Nobody can reliably estimate today what entering a post-fossil energy generation will mean for the architecture and urban development in the future. Yet, as Michel Serres suggests, research has a key role to play in exploring and testing the feasible ways that it might take us on (Serres: 1980). The Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship for Architecture and Theory conducts a theory-driven, empirically- and historically-informed comparative research on global forms of urbanization, in order to provide an evolutionary approach to architecture and urban design. By integrating the perspectives of both “high” architecture and popular forms of construction, the Professorship fosters cross-cultural understanding of architecture (as a discipline) and low-tech methods of building.
The city, with its real-life problems and profile, is the centre of gravity in the Professorship’s research interests. In order to foster sustainability in the built urban environment, both the real complexity of the contemporary city, and the concepts that are currently available to improve it, are scrutinized. The Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship for Architecture and Theory addresses the conflict-laden goals of sustainable development – in short, to provide at the same time for a green city, a growing city, and a just city (Campbell: 1996) – while exploring innovative sustainable concepts in theory and practice.
Relying on basic research and with a particular emphasis of “wicked problems” in design methodology (Rittel/Webber: 1973), the Professorship conceptualizes broad problem areas, such as the relationship between “architecture and urban climates”, “architecture and relocation” and “architecture and anthropology”. Methodologically, research and teaching are conducted with multiscalar approaches and at the intersection of architecture, ethnography, and science and technology studies.
Sascha Roesler, Mendrisio (Switzerland), Dec. 2019