Epistemic History of Architecture

Epistemic History of Architecture

Antonio Becchi, Peter Damerow, Ernst-Wilhelm Osthues, Jürgen Renn

Other involved Scholars: 

Günther Binding (Universität zu Köln)
Claudia Bührig (Deutschen Archäologischen Institut)
Ulrike Fauerbach (Deutschen Archäologischen Institut)
Margaret Haines
Markus Hilgert (Universität Jena)
Dagmar Holste (Bibliotheca Hertziana)
Elisabeth Kieven (Bibliotheca Hertziana)
Dietmar Kurapkat (Technische Universität Berlin)
Torsten Meyer
Jens Niebaum (Bibliotheca Hertziana)
Rosel Pientka-Hinz (Philipps-Universität Marburg)
Hermann Schlimme (Bibliotheca Hertziana)

Cooperation Partners: 

Bibliotheca Hertziana - Max PLanck Institute for Art History

The project was dedicated to establishing a long-term epistemic history of architecture, a new approach which focuses on knowledge as a crucial factor for the development of the building trade, in addition to the material, logistic, financial and personal resources involved. The historic periods covered by the project start with the very beginning of stone architecture in the Neolithic era and comprise the early civilizations in the Middle East and Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome, the Medieval period in northern Europe and the Italian Renaissance. The findings of the project for the various periods investigated provide new insights into the specific qualities of practical knowledge.
The final publication comprises three major sections. In the first section, the theoretical and methodological framework is presented, which focuses—for the first time—on knowledge as a decisive resource for the history of architectural development.
The second section comprises the main contributions and opens with a basic review of the Neolithic era in South-West Asia. Others are devoted to ancient Mesopotamia: a basic overview is complemented by special contributions dealing with cuneiform sources on architecture, architectural drawings and the building trade in the older Babylonian period. A special contribution on Egypt  is followed by two basic surveys on Greece and Ancient Rome, together with an in-depth study of visual refinements in canonical architecture. Further basic reviews cover the Middle Ages in Northern Europe and the early modern period. Related specials contributions study the documents of the erection of the famous Cupola of the Florentine cathedral, the role of architects as researchers, the complex design of profiles for column shafts, and the architectural knowledge contained in German ‘Hausväterliteratur’. The final section is dedicated to the overall interpretation and discussion of the project’s findings about the long-term development of building knowledge. A collection of relevant sources on the epistemic history of architecture was made freely available via the ECHO website. Work on this subject is being continued in the context of the collaboration with the Werner Oechslin Library in Einsiedeln.