Research Seminar: Artifacts of Swiss Infrastructure

Seminar History, Criticism and Theory of Architecture (051-0172)
Organizer: Chair Prof. Stalder
Lecturers: Laurent Stalder, Anne Kockelkorn, Georg Vrachliotis
Time: Thur 17:00-19:00
Location: HIL E5

Switzerland’s infrastructure is one of the most concentrated in the world. The networks that constitute it are spatial forms of organization used to produce, distribute, and communicate objects both material and symbolic. Yet the structure of many of these networks—be they transport systems, communication systems, or supply systems—eludes conscious perception, remaining invisible for all intents and purposes. Only at the places where multiple networks intersect do we become aware of them. These areas of densification and transfer—so-called nodal points—give rise to hybrid artifacts containing elements of architecture, of organization, and of infrastructure: rest stops, gas stations, motels, tram stops, parking garages, bicycle parking, interchanges, power plants, road tunnels, water towers, sewer systems, overpasses. What effect do these nodal points and their artifacts have on us? What are their architectural and functional properties? What political, technical, and aesthetic roles do they play in Switzerland?

This course is a research seminar. Students will devote most of their time to preparing a lecture on a particular nodal point in Swiss infrastructure. They will also be assigned readings on the architectural and cultural history of Switzerland and will be expected to participate in class discussions.