EM | The First Moderns

  “Coup d’oeil du théâtre de Besançon” Copyright: © Claude-Nicolas Ledoux  

International Architectural Discourses of the Enlightenment (1750-1800)

By the middle of the eighteenth century the use of classical forms had lost its dominant role in architectural thought, thus departing from Renaissance and Baroque traditions. In the eighteenth century, architects increasingly felt that the rules and orders of antiquity were well established and known. Books on Eastern Mediterranean antiquities likewise provided a basis upon which architects questioned traditional Vitruvian doctrines. Despite decorating their designs with classical forms, architects now showed a great interest in genuine architectural qualities such as functionality and generating a strong sensory impact on the beholder's sentiments.

Attempting an unmistakeable expression for their buildings' purposes, architects met new requirements which emerged from an increasingly diverse field of building tasks. By examining eighteenth-century writings, designs and buildings from Britain, France and Italy, the block course will explore this crucial turn in European architectural thought. Students will thus trace the development in European architecture from the mid-century works of international students at Rome to the iconic designs of Ledoux and Boulleé. The architects' intellectual and "modern" distancing from designs based on tradition and typology will serve as a guiding subject for the course's discussions.



Elective Module
B. Sc. and M.Sc. | all semesters


Introduction, assignments, scheduling: Friday, May 17, 2019, AGes Library
Mentorings: Fridays, June 21, 2019 and July 5, 2019 (both preliminary)
Presentations: July 23 to 24, 2019 and July 30 to 31, 2019 (both preliminary)
Submission of the papers: Monday, August 19, 2019


Felix Martin, M.Sc. RWTH