Fundamentals of the History and Theory of Architecture I+II

Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete
Dr. Hans Teerds

Within the framework of the general first-year GTA introductory course, ‘Grundlagen der Geschichte und Theorie der Architektur I & II’, the Chair of the History and Theory of Urban Design offers an assignment in which students go into the city to research and analyse a particular urban element. The aim of this assignment is twofold. First, by analysing particular elements, the student will unlock their unconscious knowledge and experience with the city and with architecture. The assignment helps students to look closely at particular elements of urban architecture and helps students understand and evaluate these elements. Second, the assignment explores the specific characteristics of the urban fabric of the city of Zurich through on-site research of its constituent urban and architectural elements. Cities are composed of a multiplicity of concrete and physical artefacts, ranging from streets and pavements to facades and entrances, from balconies and windows to street corners and stairs, terraces and bus stops. Some of these elements are generic, others are place specific. In a city like Zurich, particular urban elements negotiate the topography or offer access to the lake or the river. Elements such as monuments celebrate the community, while others, such as the city’s numerous fountains, serve it. At the end of the year, the various analytical drawings and texts produced by students are collected and brought together in a so-called ‘Lexicon of Urban Elements’. In 2018-2019, students composed an overview of different elements, with the street corner, the balcony, and the urban entrance investigated in subsequent years.

Each academic year, students’ work is collected and presented as a lexicon in an exhibition in the foyer of the HIL building, as well as in a booklet.

Image: Balcon Additionnel by Julien Berthier “Service for installing a platic Haussmannian-style balcony on all kinds of buildings”


Prof. Dr. Tom AvermaeteSara FrikechSanna KattenbeckNicole de LalouvièreHamish LonerganDr. Hans TeerdsMaxime Zaugg

Online exhibition: Student work
Publication: Balconies – A Zürich Lexicon (HS20/FS21)
Publication: Street Corners – A Zürich Lexicon (HS19/FS20)
Publication: Zürich Urban Elements, A Lexicon (HS18/FS19)