If there is no theoretical framework, no grand narrative, no normative system of values that offers architects orientation today as there might have been fifty years ago, there is a chance to learn from the mistakes of the past, map out new horizons, and work towards more inclusive, global futures. For we should not take for granted the ways in which architecture has been, is, and can be brought into history. It is essential to recognize the fact that the canon of architectural knowledge, which is still largely treated as the basis of the discipline and its pedagogy, is founded upon inherited practices that all too often contradict the very principles put forward by the institutions themselves. Knowledge is produced through a plurality of forms and in a multitude of sites, and not just those sanctioned by privileged traditions.

The task that stands before us today very well might require unlearning what we know and treat to be history and theory in the first place. We need to rethink how it is formed, who it is for, what role it plays, and how it relates to architectural praxis and its cultural field more widely. It is not that architecture is currently in an a-theoretical or a-historical phase, but that it remains frustratingly irrelevant. It has become an academic discipline shaped by academic carriers for academics and not by or for architecture and its challenges. This is why history and theory has never been needed more than it is today, and in its most radical and nuanced forms.

History/Theory is a collaboration between the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zürich and e-flux Architecture.

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21 essays
Spyros Papapetros
(or, histories and theories of the prearchitectonic condition ) During discussions of “history/theory,” the term “architecture” often...
“History, Theory, and Criticism,” the title of many courses and even departments in academic schools of architecture, attests to the easy way in...
Meredith TenHoor
Many have claimed that we are witnessing an end of architectural theory, the replacement of theory with history, or simply an era of disunified...
There is a minor, slightly ragged tradition among historians that speaks of the quest for a “usable past.” The expression, which was coined around...
The frame of reference for the vast majority of architectural histories and theories is central Europe and northern America, which often exclude...
The question of the current state of “history/theory” is, of course, now a fully historiographic issue. One has to remember that there was no such...
A "modern" man has nothing to add to modernism, if only because he has nothing to oppose it with. —Elias Canetti (1989) The...
Architecture is perhaps the most complex cultural technology that humanity has produced. Nowhere else—from literature to theater and the fine...
Vittoria di Palma
What do we mean when we talk about “history” in an architectural context? Or, to ask the question in a slightly different way, what can “history”...
Brigitte Sölch
During the eighth International Conference of Modern Architecture (CIAM) in 1951, Sigfried Giedion drew from Ancient Greece and Roman Antiquity to...
Sonja Hildebrand
Reflections about the relationship between architecture and history are as old as reflections about architecture itself. In Vitruvius’s...
Laurent Stalder
“Elements” have always numbered among the fixed topoi of any conceptual preoccupation of architectural theory. They have long proven to be a...
Peter Eisenman, Kurt W. Forster, Jacques Herzog, and Philip Ursprung
Peter Eisenman: The end of theory, even as a question, is not a neutral statement. And as a person who's been faced with the end of theory for...
What is, or should be, the role of architectural history within architectural culture, education, and practice? It feels as though architectural...
Andreas Beyer
The question what “history” means and why it should be studied is a periodic topic. Ever since Friedrich Schiller treated it in an exemplary way...
Since the turn of the millennium, writing about architecture and its praxis have drifted apart; a distance that discourse has thrived off of....
Christophe van Gerrewey
All of architecture took on the same utopian idea, where each new building became a blueprint for utopia in the future, but ultimately was in...
Richard Anderson
It is, by now, commonplace to refer to the practices of reading, writing, and thinking about architectural production as the “history and theory...
Joan Ockman
Who put the slash in history/theory? It was a consequential stroke, although its origin is hard to pinpoint. It seems first to have appeared in...
Philip Ursprung
This year, the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at ETH Zurich is celebrating its 50th birthday. Founded in 1967, the...
Nick Axel, Maarten Delbeke, Ita Heinze-Greenberg, Nikolaus Hirsch, Laurent Stalder, Philip Ursprung, and Anton Vidokle
History/Theory is a collaboration between the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zürich and e-flux Architecture,...
Category
Architecture
Subject
Historicity & Historiography, Knowledge Production, Academia, Time, Publishing

History/Theory is a collaboration between the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta), ETH Zürich and e-flux Architecture.

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