Gebaute Unfälle

Seminar History, Criticism and Theory in Architecture (052-0814-22)
Organizer: Chair of Prof. Stalder
Lecturers: Carla Peca
Time: Thursdays, 17:45 - 19:30
Location: HCP E 47.3


The built environment in Europe (and beyond) has undergone major changes in the course of industrialisation. Rationalised production processes, scientific expertise, targeted materials research and technological as well as infrastructural developments, testify to the attempt to regulate the environment in a targeted manner through a series of systems, devices and techniques. Not only do technical objects move into the architecture, the buildings themselves become technological ensembles that are connected to infrastructure networks via lines, cables and electromagnetic waves and are thus interconnected.

Building on the seminars and lectures on the "things of modernity", this course asks about the consequences and concatenations of unfortunate circumstances when these "things" fail and refuse to serve. As the technical complexity and infrastructural interconnectedness of the built environment increases, so does the vulnerability of these technological ensembles. The unforeseen accident runs counter to the purposefully planned technology and manifests itself in a long list of industrial accidents, technological disasters and major accidents to be assumed (GAU). Together we trace the shift within modernity from calculating and regulating potential hazards of the environment to anticipating and safeguarding against the hazards of technology.

In this course, we work both with investigative reports that seek to reconstruct, on a factual level, how an accident occurred, and with literary and cinematic works that construct explanations for the unpredictable events on a narrative level.



1. «Akzidens»
AGAMBEN: «Irreparabel» , BLOCK: «Accident» , Gebr. GRIMM: «Fall», «Akzident» , MEYER: «Akzidens, akzidentiell» , PERROW: «Accident Definitions» 

2. «Technische Unfälle, Geschwindigkeit und Risiko»
BECK: Auf dem zivilisatorischen Vulkan. Die Konturen der Risikogesellschaft , PETROSKI: «Accidents Waiting to Happen» , VIRILIO: Der eigentliche Unfall 

3. «Gebaute Unfälle»
HENN: Die Bauwesenversicherung , STALDER: «Warum die Architektur den Unfall braucht» , REINMUTH: «Impractical genius» 

4. «Unfallerfahrung»
HORN: «Die Zukunft der Dinge» , SONTAG: «The Imagination of Disasters» , STIEGLER: «Katastrophen und ihre Bilder»


BECK, Ulrich: «Auf dem zivilisatorischen Vulkan. Die Konturen der Risikogesellschaft», in ders.: Risikogesellschaft. Auf dem Weg in eine andere Moderne, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1986, S. 25–66.
DELEUZE, Gilles: «Postskriptum über die Kontrollgesellschaften», in ders.: Unterhandlungen 1972–1990, Frankfurt a.M.: Suhrkamp, 1993, S. 254–262.
GODALL, Mark et al.: Crash Cinema: Representation in Film, New Castle: Cambridge Scholar Publishing, 2007, S. 36–51.
HAMPE, Michael: Die Macht des Zufalls. Vom Umgang mit dem Risiko, Berlin: wjs Verlag, 2007.
HORN, Eva: «Die Zukunft der Dinge. Unfall und technische Sicherheit», in dies.: Zukunft als Katastrophe, Frankfurt a. M.: S. Fischer Wissenschaft, 2011, S. 249-256, 262-282.
KRÜCKEN, Georg und Wolfgang KROHN: Riskante Technologien. Reflexion und Regulation. Einführung in die sozialwissenschaftliche Risikoforschung, Frankfurt a. M.: Suhrkamp, 1993.
PERROW, Charles: «Complexity, Coupling, and Catastrophe», in ders.: Normal Accidents, New York: Basic Books, 1984, S. 62–100.
PETROSKI, Henry: « Accidents waiting to happen», in ders.: To Engineer Is Human. The Role of Failure in Successful Design, New York: Vintage Books, 1992, S. 85–97.
STIEGLER, Bernd: «Katastrophen und ihre Bilder», in ders.: Montagen des Realen. Photographie als Reflexionsmedium und Kulturtechnik. Paderborn: Fink, 2009, S. 211–230.
REINMUTH, Gerard: «Impractical genius», The Architectural Review. Form follows Failure (2019), S. 16–25.
STALDER, Laurent: «Warum die Architektur den Unfall braucht», Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30.10.2021.
VIRILIO, Paul und Peter ENGELMANN: Der eigentliche Unfall, Wien: Passagen Verlag, 2009, S. 15–28.


Carla Peca