«Zauberland des Sichtbaren». Architecture in the Transformation of Vision around 1900

Yue Zhao

The study investigates the role of architecture in the growth of the notion of “subjective vision” under the radical social, cultural and epistemological reform in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. The theoretical and practical works of August Endell (1871–1925), which anchored the notion in architecture, serve as a pivot to depict this transformation.
The research asserts that architecture forms knowledge, instead of merely formalising it. Following this assertion, three main hypothesis are developed: first, that architecture is at the same time a force and an instrument in constructing the knowledge of “subjective vision”; second, that the techniques of architectural production have an impact on the formal reification of the notion; and third, that the knowledge and practice of “subjective vision” are utilised in the construction of “modern architecture” for the precise control of the subject.
The objective of the research is to understand the haunted desire for an intuitive and universal knowledge of seeing in architecture, for which the reflective formation of the notions of “subjective vision” and “modern architecture” at the turn of the century is considered as a crucial moment.