Modelling Modernity

Seminar History, Criticism and Theory in Architecture (052-0814-20)
Organizer: Chair of Prof. Stalder
Lecturers: Dr Matthew James Wells
Time: Thursdays 16.45-18.15
Location: HCP E 47.3

Modelling is a primary mechanism through which we make sense of and act upon our material lives and society at large. From the beginning of architectural culture models have had a dual function. One the one hand, they serve a creative process and allow for communication with non-specialists. On the other, models have often held a ceremonial and political function as three-dimensional testaments to the political visions of individuals, institutions, and states. Combining key features of reflexive modernity – public choice, the emergence of expert thought, and separation of knowledge from spatial experience – the model is essential in understanding the relationship of the architectural profession to the building site, the public sphere, and the construction of modern society. Through lectures and close readings of texts this seminar will critically investigate the function and form of models, their materials and methods, questions of scale and perception, experimentation and presentation, and the multiple roles played by the medium in the construction of the modern world.

Presentation guide 

2. 27.02.20 Purpose:
Reading: Margaret Morrison and Mary S. Morgan, ‘Models as Mediating Instruments' (1999) 
Reading aid 

3. 05.03.20 Authorship:
Reading: Edward Schroeder Prior, ‘Architectural Modelling’ (1895)  
Reading aid 

4. 26.03.20 Images:
Reading: Rolf Sachsse, ‘Eine kleine Geschichte der Architekturmodell-Fotografie’ (2012) 
Reading aid 

5. 02.04.20 Scale:
Reading: Mari Lending, ‘Monuments in Space and Scale' (2017) 
Reading aid 

6. 23.04.20 Materials:
Reading: Matthew Mindrup, ‘Modeling Material as Medium’ (2019) 
Reading aid 

7. 30.04.20 Guest lecture: Dr Teresa Fankhänel (TU München)
Reading: Jane Jacobs, 'The miniature boom' (1958) 

8. 07.05.20 Giulia Boller: How to Design a Shell – Models and experiments in Heinz Isler’s work
Reading: Giulia Boller and Joseph Schwartz, 'Modelling the form. Heinz Isler, Frei Otto, and their approaches to form-finding' (2020) 

Malcom Baker: 'Representing Invention, Viewing Models' (2004) 
Jas Elsner: 'The House and Museum of John Soane' (1994) 
Oliver Elser et al ed.: 'Das Architektur Modell' (2012) 
Amanda Lillie and Mauro Mussolin: 'The Wooden Models of Palazzo Strozzi' (2015) 
Henry A. Millon: 'Models in Renaissance Architecture' (1991) 
Matthew Mindrup: 'The Architectural Model' Introdution and Chapter 1 (2019) 
Matthew Mindrup: 'The Architectural Model' Chapter 2 (2019) 
Monique Mosser: ‘Französische Architekturmodelle im Zeitalter der Aufklärung / Models of French Architecture in the Age of Enlightenment‘ (1981) 
Milica Topalovic: ‘Models and Other Spaces’ (2011)  
Victor Plahte Tschudi: 'Plaster Empires' (2012) 
Simona Valeriani: 'Three-dimensional models' (2012) 
Thomas Weaver: 'Model-maker Grimm' (2016) 


Dr. Matthew James Wells