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Online-Workshop // Matthew Wells: Dinge der Moderne / Things of Modernity



von 10:00 bis 11:00

Termin übernehmen

Dr. Matthew Wells, Preisträger des Theodor-Fischer-Preises 2019

The aim of this collaborative research project at ETH Zurich is to propose a new history of modern architecture (ca.1850-ca.1970), beginning not with the ever-changing heroes or canonical pioneers, nor the key buildings, but with a constellation of ‘Things’ that shaped modern life. From the clock and the light bulb, the toilet and the radiator, to carpet and the revolving door. The common tropes of modern architecture will not be ignored, for instance, the concrete frame or the curtain wall. Instead they will be studied in their historical contexts and considered alongside new examples from a wide range of sources (technical patents, visual art, and literature) to help explain their role in the construction of the modern condition.
From agriculture to architecture, from household appliances to the metropolis, the beginnings of the broad reconfiguration of the built environment in Europe (understood in its trans-regional context) can be traced back to various industrial developments and their outcomes in the nineteenth century. The factors that widely transformed society at this time were less a set of formal accomplishments in the shape of auteur architecture, but rather a set of new fields of scientific expertise (e.g. hygiene), processes (e.g. electrification), and expert knowledge (e.g. the professionalisation of architects, engineers, and urban planners). These new fields allowed for the regulation of the environment through a series of systems, devices, and techniques. In turn these reconfigurations brought a comprehensive reorganisation of architecture and urban planning: how it was constructed, how it was controlled, and how it was understood amongst the various practitioners and users of the built environment.

To analyse these objects only from a technical perspective or see them simply as representations (of taste, desire, progress), does not allow for satisfactory analysis into the complex networks involved in their development, design, or regulation. Instead, having shaped our environment in the last 200 years, the research project places these objects, the “Things of Modernity”, at the centre of its study.
Project team: Laurent Stalder, Andreas Kalpakci, Matthew Wells


Diese Veranstaltung findet als internes Zoom-Meeting statt / This event takes place as an internal Zoom meeting.

[Bildnachweis:  S. Hellyer. ‘A Dangerous Water Closet’, The Plumber and Sanitary Houses, 1887]