The Images of Housing

Vorlesung (052-0819)
Veranstalter: Professur Ursprung
Dozierende: Dr. Irina Davidovici
Zeit: 15-17h
Ort: HIL E8

At the intersection of architectural and art history, this course examines the processes through which the visual depictions of housing feed into cycles of cultural and economic consumption. The lectures draw upon diagnostic episodes from the history of urban housing, using the comparative analysis of buildings and visual artefacts to arrive at a synthetic conceptualisation of housing. Specifically, we will explore the relation between image and ideology in the representations of housing. Whether affirmative or critical, the images of housing have routinely been used to shape public opinion and drive political action, significantly impacting on the built, social and cultural landscape.

Housing policies and standardised dwellings reflect societal and market values, and their mass production has the capacity to alter prevalent conceptions of privacy and commonality. The representations of housing are inevitably driven by a matrix of ideologies and operative agendas, ranging from autonomous aesthetic intentions, to the interests of various political, civic and economic actors. The course will examine how architectural, documentary and artistic depictions of residential environments use the apparent ordinariness of their subject-matter to construct social critiques, reinforce political propagandas, or pursue autonomous artistic agendas.

The course offers insights into the motivations, purposes and ideologies driving the production of housing, as well as its representation in the visual arts. The students will acquire skills of visual analysis and interpretation necessary to investigate the relations between the medium of images and their message.

The weekly class will comprise a lecture, followed by structured discussions and group exercises. Over the course of the semester, there will be multiple inputs by guest speakers and a field trip to an art exhibition. All lectures (except one in German, please see programme) will be delivered in English. Attendance to the weekly lectures and discussions is obligatory, as they will form the basis of the written examination.

The two-part assessment consists of an essay and a graded examination in the January session. Essays and examination may be written in English or German. Before starting work on the essay, it is necessary to first confirm with the lecturer – by email or in person – your choice of topic. Tutorials for essay preparation must be prearranged by email and depend on time availability.

Course Readings (weekly readings will be added throughout the semester)
Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing about Art, 7th ed., Longman, 2002
Roland Barthes, “Studium and Punctum” (1980) - excerpts, in Camera Lucida, London, 2000
Eve Blau, “Isotype and Architecture in Red Vienna: The Modern Projects of Otto Neurath and Josef Frank,” in Austrian Studies, vol. 14, 2006, pp. 227–259. JSTOR,
Reto Geiser, “Introduction”, in Siegfried Giedion, Liberated Dwelling: Facsimile edition, Zurich, 2019
Dan Graham, “Homes for America” (1968), in The Suburban City, ed. Theodora Vischer, Basel, 1997 (in English and German)
David Madden and Peter Marcuse, “Introduction” and “Conclusion”, in In Defense of Housing, 2016
Claire Zimmerman, Photographic Architecture in the Twentieth Century, U of Minnesota, 2014. Also available as online resource:


20.09.2019 Lecture 1.
Irina Davidovici and Philip Ursprung
Introduction. Housing as concept and representation / Methods of visual analysis

Useful readings:
- Roland Barthes, “Studium and Punctum” (1980) - excerpts, in Camera Lucida, London, 2000 
- Jonathan Glancey, “Campaigns”, in Architectural Review 120, December/January 2016-17 

27.09.2019 Lecture 2.
Irina Davidovici
Architecture. Codes and conventions in Zurich housing

Useful readings:
- Caspar Schärer, “From the Disciplining of the City to the Urban Archipelago” (pp. 23-27) 

- Irina Davidovici, “Ideology and Collective Life” (pp. 203-206) in: Dominique Boudet (ed.), New Housing in Zurich: Typologies for a Changing Society, 2017 

04.10.2019 Lecture 3.
Irina Davidovici
Architectural drawing. Ramifications of reform

Useful readings:
- Robin Evans, “Rookeries and Model Dwellings”, in Translation from Drawing to Building and Other Essays, pp. 93-118. 

- Eve Blau, “Patterns of Fact: Photography and the Transformation of the Early Industrial City”, in Eve Blau and Edward Kauffman (eds.), Architecture and Its Image, pp. 36-57 

11.10.2019 Lecture 4.
Irina Davidovici
Inhabiting the diagram. Iconographies for the New Dwelling

Useful readings:
- Christoph Lueder, "Evaluator, Choreographer, Ideologue, Catalyst: The Disparate Reception Histories of Alexander Klein's Graphical Method", in Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 76.1 (2017), pp. 82-106 

- Karel Teige, “Towards New Forms of Dwelling”, in The Minimum Dwelling, 1932, 2002, pp. 323-393. 

- Reto Geiser, “Introduction”, in Siegfried Giedion, Befreites Wohnung / Liberated Dwelling, Facsimile Edition, 2019, pp. 4-36.

18.10.2019 Lecture 5.
Guest lecture Vanessa Grossman / discussion with Irina Davidovici
Housing as Political Representation: Villeneuve, Grenoble, 1965–1985, by the Atelier d’urbanisme et d’architecture (AUA)

Useful readings:
- Chaljub, Bénédicte. “Grenoble démantèle sa Villeneuve,” AMC 222 (2013). 

- Cupers, Kenny. “The Expertise of Participation,” in The Social Project: Housing Postwar France. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2014,  pp. 137-182. 

- Parent, Jean-François and Eva Radwan. “Le quartier de l’Arlequin à Grenoble.” Espaces et Sociétés, no. 16 (1975): 85-108 

- Violeau, Jean-Louis.“Grenoble, Dubedout et la Villeneuve: fatalité de la culture, limites de la contre-culture,”in Jean-Louis Cohen and Vanessa - - -Grossman, eds., AUA: Une architecture de l’engagement, 1960–1985, Paris: Éditions Dominique Carré/Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, 2015, pp. 196-203. 

- Le Vot, Sibylle.“Quand la ville fait peau neuve: les années grenobloises de l’AUA,” in Jean-Louis Cohen and Vanessa Grossman, eds., AUA: Une architecture de l’engagement, 1960–1985, Paris: Éditions Dominique Carré/Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, 2015, pp. 179-193.

25.10.2019 NO LECTURE Seminar Woche

01.11.2019 Lecture 6.
Guest lecture Philip Ursprung / discussion with Irina Davidovici
Title: TBC / Visit to ETH Graphische Sammlung

08.11.2019 Lecture 7.
Guest lecture Cathelijne Nuijsink / discussion with Irina Davidovici
Popular media: The single-family house in Japan, 1950–2000

Useful readings:
- YamamotoEtAl-StateofContemporaryHousingJapan-2003 

15.11.2019 Lecture 8.
Irina Davidovici / discussion with Fredi Fischli and Niels Olsen
Art: Housing as object

Useful readings:
- Rachel Whiteread _ about the house 


- VIDLER-WarpedSpace2000 

- WHITEREAD-House1995 

- WIGLEY-CuttingMatta-Clark-2018 

22.11.2019 Lecture 9.
Guest lecture Fabian Furter / discussion with Torsten Lange
Industrielles Bauen, Industrielles Wohnen. Massenwohnungsbau in der Schweiz, 1945 bis 1975
This lecture and discussion will take place in German

Useful readings:
- FURTER-LODERER-Goehner-Wohnen-2017 

29.11.2019 Lecture 10.
Guest lecture Susanne Hefti / discussion with Irina Davidovici
Art Photography and film: Pruitt-Igoe Falls

Useful readings:
- NIESZCZERZEWSKA-DerelictArchitecture-2015 

- POPESCU-ThreeTenses-MassHousinginContemporaryArt-2012 

- URSPRUNG-PhotographyofBlasting-Spector2014 

06.12.2019 Lecture 11.
Motifs and Conclusions

Useful readings:
- BARNET-AShortGuideToWritingAboutArt-2-Essay 



PD Dr. Irina Davidovici