25 June 2020

When and How Danes Became Architects:
a Genealogy on the Origin of Professionalism in Denmark

DIS Copenhagen

This chapter is extracted from the PhD dissertation “The Labourification of Work: the contemporary modes of architectural production under the Danish Welfare State” (Gigliotti, 2020 Aarhus School of Architecture). It aims to trace back the origins of architectural professionalism in Denmark, acknowledging that “being an architect,” as commonly meant today in the discipline, is a recent condition achieved in different historical moments according to what we would call the “lifeworld”[1] of a specific investigated context. To support this claim, the chapter roots in two key figures that have been crucial in the definition of the role of the architect: Leon Battista Alberti (Italy, XV cent.) and Karl Friedrich Schinkel (Prussia, first half XIX cent.). Starting from a dialogue between the two, the chapter addresses the Danish case. It aims to build a genealogy of those Danish architects that fervently debated the relationship between kunst (art-architecture), haandværk(craftsmanship) and industri (mass production) within the byggeri(construction sector). The timespan covers the late XVIII cent. until the first half of XX cent., following the establishment of a recognized education for architects, with the opening of the Royal Danish Academy of Portraiture, Sculpture, and Construction (1754). Together with the genealogy, the chapter builds a map of understanding to interpret how some reforms in the education and the professed appraisals by those architects, were crucial in determining some shifts in their roles as architects and in their use of the drawing. The argument is that those shifts led to the birth of two figures, educated in separate institutions. On one side an architect infused with artistic knowledge, akademisk arkitekt, while on the other a building architect, bygningskonstruktør, gifted to technical knowledge. Both of them differ from the actual construction site builders whose expertise has been lost in the centuries. The aim of the chapter is, then, to explicit the moments that lead to the establishment of this specific hierarchy in the profession whose legacy is still affecting the contemporary modes of architectural production in Denmark.

[1] The definition of the “time of the lifeworld of architecture: that is, the high speed of contextual change, to which architecture has a tendency to respond”. (Trachtenberg, 2010, p. XII) and “The temporal mode is the time of the lifeworld of the building: every building is created for and by its particular lifeworld. (…) These factors comprise everything from patronage and politics to economics and religious and ideological practices, and of course, the living world of architecture culture itself (…).” (Trachtenberg, 2010, p. XI)

Architecture Worlds at ETH Zurich:
Transferring Collective Tacit Knowledge in Architectural Pedagogy

gta, ETH Zurich

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