Het Nieuwe Instituut and The Berlage Center for Advanced Studies in Architecture and Urban Design organised a joint symposium on 20 March on the renewed attention for Gottfried Sempers’ theory on Bekleidung.
This symposium formed part of the programme running parallel to the exhibition 1:1 Sets for Erwin Olaf & Bekleidung, which was on display in Het Nieuwe Instituut until 30 March.This symposium with Ákos Moravánszky, Harry Mallgrave and Dirk van den Heuvel looked at the classical theory of Gottfried Semper from a contemporary point of view. Semper emphasized the distinction between a building’s construction and its wall dressing or cladding (Bekleidung) and defines architecture’s function and the architect’s role on the basis of it. The critical potential of a theory of Bekleidung is important for contemporary forms of transparency and the construction of identity.
Living in Dioramas
„You cannot build a house out of carpet“, warned Adolf Loos, but proposed the creation of atmospheric “effects” by textiles and veneers as the primary task of architecture. In his various journal contributions he gave advice on ladies’ fashion, men’s underwear and table manners, based on his perception of the modern city and its impact on nervous life. He saw the modern dwelling as the „background created for the small pleasures and great tragedies of life“, and he designed his houses as stages for role-playing urban types and scenes of domestic dramas. Loos’ Prinzip der Bekleidung (Principle of Clothing) seems to echo Gottfried Semper’s Bekleidungstheorie, but instead of Semper’s insistence on the cultural relevance of the correct mask he insisted on its function to protect the man with modern nerves. The consequence was a continuous reduction of complex identities and transparent, multi-layered masks to an all-encompassing interiority - built of carpet.
Ákos Moravánszky has been Titular Professor of the Theory of Architecture a the Institute gta (Institute of the History and Theory of Architecture) of ETH Zurich since 2005. Born in 1950 in Székesfehérvár, Hungary, Ákos Moravánszky studied architecture at the Technical University in Budapest, Hungary, between 1969 and 1974 and then worked as an architectural designer in Budapest. From 1977 on he studied art history and historic preservation with a Herder scholarship at the Technical University in Vienna, Austria, where he received his doctorate in 1980. In 1996 he was invited to teach the Theory of Architecture at the Institut gta of the ETH Zurich. During the academic term 2003/2004 he was appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Applied Art in Budapest, Hungary as a Szent-Györgyi Fellow.
Harry Francis Mallgrave
Harry Francis Mallgrave has enjoyed a career as an architect, scholar, translator, and editor, and is presently a Distinguished Professor of Architectural History and Theory at Illinois Institute of Technology. He won the prestigious Alice Davis Hitchcock Award for his intellectual biography Gottfried Semper: Architect of the Nineteenth Century. Among his other books are Empathy, Form, and Space: Problems in German Aesthetics; Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey 1673-1968; The Architect’s Brain: Neuroscience, Creativity, and Architecture, and Architecture and Embodiment:The Implications of the New Sciences and Humanities for Design.
Dirk van den Heuvel
Dirk van den Heuvel is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Architecture, TU Delft. He is the head of the recently established Jaap Bakema Study Centre at The New Institute in Rotterdam, a collaborative research initiative between TU Delft and The New Institute. Together with Max Risselada he authored Team 10—In Search of a Utopia of the Present (NAi, 2005) and Alison and Peter Smithson. From the House of the Future to a House of Today (010, 2004). Together with Mark Swenarton and Tom Avermaete, he is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Architecture and the Welfare State (Routledge, 2014). He is an editor of the online journal for architectural theory Footprint and of DASH—Del! Architectural Studies on Housing. He was also an editor of the journal OASE.