The Architectural Textbook


22-23 February 2016, Dr. Petra Brouwer at the University of Amsterdam organized a two-day workshop on the architectural textbook in the nineteenth century. The workshop took place at the Netherland’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) in Wassenaar. Mari Hvattum participated from the Printed & Built project.

Brouwer describes the workshop thus: “The publication of the first architectural history books, halfway through the nineteenth century, marked the beginning of architectural history as a discipline. Within the space of two years the first volumes of James Fergusson,The illustrated handbook of architecture (1855), Wilhelm Lübke, Geschichte der Architektur (1855) and Franz Kugler, Geschichte der Baukunst (1856-1873, 5 vol.) were published to narrate a world history of architecture. Although it took decades before architectural history was a well-established field of knowledge within both architectural and academic art historical education, these first surveys were written to establish the methods and framework for the young discipline.

The NIAS workshop examined the genre of the architectural history survey text from the premise that these first surveys

  1. were of vital importance for the formation and consolidation of the discipline of architectural history;
  2. defined our modern concept of the architectural monument both as an aesthetic and historical object that mirrors a historical culture;
  3. strongly influenced the process of canonization of the built environment by designating a small selection of buildings as monuments, while marginalizing the major part of architecture.

The workshop brought together scholars researching the origins of architectural history in the long nineteenth century, and aspired to exchange and critically discuss historiographical insights.”


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