8 June 2021

The History of Theory:
The Reception of Venturi and Scott Brown
at ETH Zurich 1968–1975

Accademia di Architettura di Mendrisio

Respondent: Silvia Balzan (University of Basel)

This paper takes a closer look at the reception of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown (VSB) at the ETH Zurich 1968–1975, investigating an unrealized exhibition project at the gta Institute and the dissemination of their theory and architecture by the Lecturer René Furer. The reception at the ETH is considered in the context of media publications, of the student revolt of 1968 and the later discourse on Postmodernism. The topic is a subchapter of the first part of my dissertation 'The Swiss Reception of Venturi & Scott Brown, 1970–2000' that looks into the reception of VSB in architecture education and in professional journals as well as in built production. The early reception of Venturi and Scott Brown at the ETH Zurich represents an unexplored part of recent history, that adds a new perspective to the development of Swiss architecture to this day.


A “Golden Age” of the Debate.
Criticism of Territorial Transformations on the Threshold Between High and Popular Culture

Université Rennes 2 – Politecnico di Milano

Respondent: Davide Spina (ETH Zurich, gta Institute)

The histories of architectural and urban criticism in the Western world usually consider the decades between the 1950s and the early 1980s as a “golden age”. In such countries as France and Italy, the transformations of the built environment at different scales – of buildings, cities and territories – were commented by a thriving debate, driven by specialized and non-specialized media, involving a diverse set of actors from several disciplines, and targeting different publics. Coasts, in particular, were under the spotlight for their particularly rapid and contradictory process of urbanization. Moreover, the discussion on their transformations inevitably crossed the preoccupations of other debates, for instance on the protection of the natural environment, and on the rise of mass tourism. On these basis, my research considers coasts as a relevant case study to outline the main features – in terms of media, actors and contents – of the debate on territorial transformations in France and in Italy between the 1950s and the 1980s, to achieve a deeper understanding of the commonly accepted “golden age” frame.

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