Organisation of Public Scientific Events

Colloquium “Writing Automobile Histories”, 5 March 2021

Convenors

Dr. ir. Charitonidou and Prof. Dr. Tom Avermaete

Chair of the History and Theory of Urban Design at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at ETH Zürich

This colloquium is based upon the postdoctoral research that Marianna Charitonidou is undertaking at the Chair of the History and Theory of Urban Design, since September 2019.  This postdoctoral project entitled “The Travelling Architect’s Eye: Photography and Automobile Vision”, is based on the hypothesis that the view from the car has established a new epistemology of the urban landscape and the territory at large. It explores the views from the car produced by architects and tries to better understand how this epistemological shift influenced architectural thinking and practice. It wants to comprehend how the automobile, since its invention, has reshaped our conceptions of space, revolutionizing the way architects perceive the city and contributing significantly to the transformation of the relationship between architecture and the city.

Theme of the colloquium

The automobile reshaped our conceptions of space revolutionizing the way architects perceive the urban environment and contributing significantly to the transformation of the relationship between architecture and the city. No other factor changed the city so drastically during the twentieth century. Many architects and architectural critics and theorists have been attracted to ‘automobile vision’.

This colloquium aims to untie the specificity of car travel as a new episteme, addressing issues related to the emergence of the new perceptual regimes that emerged thanks to the automobile. Iain Borden (The Bartlett School of Architecture – UCL), Jae Emerling (College of Arts + Architecture University of North Carolina), and Martino Stierli (The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design The Museum of Modern Art) are invited to share approaches that can trigger new theoretical frameworks for tackling the automobile vision of architects and urban designers.

To fully grasp the multiple effects of the car on the way that architects approach the city, new historical perspectives and theoretical concepts seem to be required. In our Colloquium “Writing Automobile Histories” we want to explore such an alternative historiographic and theoretical vantage points.

Speakers

Iain Borden, The Bartlett School of Architecture – UCL

Jae Emerling, College of Arts + Architecture University of North Carolina

Martino Stierli, The Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture and Design The Museum of Modern Art

After the colloquium we will organize a workshop during which the speakers are invited to give a 10 mins feedback to the methodology that is employed in the postdoctoral project. At this occasion, we intend to have a more informal discussion on the challenges of writing automobile histories.