Teaching Profile

  Photo of students at a project in Scherpenheuvel Copyright: Tim Scheuer  

Design-oriented teaching of architectural history

Teaching at the Chair of Architectural History is explicitly directed at the requirements of practicing architects. Its primary objective is to introduce the students to historical architecture as a fully exploitable source of inspiration for their own creative work. Attention is therefore drawn first and foremost to the historical building itself, its creative disposition, composition, construction, and iconology. Only in a second stage teaching proceeds to an further examination of its social and historical relativity and importance.

In keeping with the Aachen approach to architectural history the Chair regards its teaching as a central component of architectural training. It shows the students that the act of designing is not a creative mystery that defies all rational explanations and that has to always be re-discovered. Instead, to a large extend it is based on the knowledge and understanding of the internal laws of architecture and on the application of fundamental architectural principles that remain constant through the ages and therefore can be studied in outstanding structures from all eras.

Interplay between research and teaching

At the Chair of Architectural History teaching and scientific research are closely linked. Interested students are included in the Chair's current building research projects. During the approximately four surveying and documentation campaigns each year, they get the opportunity to experience outstanding architecture in a holistic, hands-on manner outside of the boundaries of specialized classes and to trace back the construction process from its end result to its conceptual idea. At the same time, current research projects and their results are reintroduced into regular courses where they are inform lectures, seminars, and design projects.

Combination of scientific and artistic approaches

The Chair for Architectural History sees one of its important tasks in introducing the students the principles of the scientific method, which is usually valued less in the design and construction courses of architecture studies. The Chair's emphasis on the scientific approach, however, is often reunited with the artistic approach architecture students are already familiar with. On the one hand the ability of switching between the various methods is fostered by exhibition projecs on topics of architectural history, on the other hand the same dual approach is also encouraged by the briefs of the Chair's design projects which either require a thorough understanding of the historical context of the proposed buildings or directly relate to current research projects. And finally, the Chair in all its courses particularly encourages and promotes the use of the hand-drawn sketch – for centuries an important tool for every practicing architects – as a medium both for the scientific analysis and the artistic appropriatiion of existing architecture.