259.650 Wahlseminar Topos in architectural theory
Diese Lehrveranstaltung ist in allen zugeordneten Curricula Teil der STEOP.
Diese Lehrveranstaltung ist in mindestens einem zugeordneten Curriculum Teil der STEOP.

2022S, SE, 3.5h, 5.0EC



  • Semesterwochenstunden: 3.5
  • ECTS: 5.0
  • Typ: SE Seminar
  • Format der Abhaltung: Hybrid



Nach positiver Absolvierung der Lehrveranstaltung sind Studierende in der Lage...

(Concerning) Matter

  • Get familiar with the topic of the course and its main axes
  • Gain empowerment from being introduced to rhetorical format and philological method

(Concerning) Reasoning

  • Look at a building in accordance to the method of close reading in architecture
  • Distinguish a formal close reading from a textual one

(Concerning) Gesture

  • Think, talk and write canonically about a building
  • Compose a canonical chapter, both textual (with words) and formal (with drawings)

Inhalt der Lehrveranstaltung



(…) the idea of canon would refer to an operative dogma in a religious context: an orthodoxy, as in canon law. In science, a canonic pattern—such as canonical coordinates or canonical conjugates—contains an uncertainty. A canonical pattern in music is contrapuntal, repeating but also constantly changing. In the context of this book, the term canonical encompasses the potential heretical and transgressive nature of ways of close reading architecture.

(…) the idea of the canonical informs my interest in reading architecture, and also explains the inclusion of each building in this book, which lays out their roles in defining today’s particular historical moment in architecture.


The course will be ON and OF(F) Peter Eisenman’s Ten Canonical Buildings (2008); it will mostly spin around the notion of canon and the method of close reading in architecture, both being at the centre of Eisenman’s book.

Going through and beyond the reading of Ten Canonical Buildings, we will think about the canon as “canon of principles”: as an act of learning to think, talk, write and draw (about) architecture. In this sense, we will look at canon not in a historical way, nor will be important for us to define a series of “masterpieces” that can be called canonical; on the contrary, we will consider the canon for its capacity to articulate in manifold ways something invariant.

Taking on the strict structure of the book, we will understand, put into question and enlarge what Eisenman calls canonical by studying the meaning of “working within the canon” of the ten buildings discussed in the book. In parallel, we will embrace the exercise put forward by Eisenman and we will extend the number of canonical buildings -and its chapters-like schema- in a compendium.

Formal and textual (close) readings will accompany us throughout the entire semester both as an approach to see the spatial idea that constitutes a building’s formal quality, its sense-making attempt and the architectonic principles at its core as well as a method to eventually conceive an architectural idea.


The course will have a hybrid seminar approach and it will be structured around two main axes:  

  • From week to week, there will be pre-recorded lectures to be watched before each weekly meeting. These lectures will depict a spectrum of Eisenman’s intellectual and theoretical approach to architecture from his very first work -The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture- to Ten Canonical Buildings and they will respect the structure of Ten Canonical Buildings by addressing chapter by chapter week after week.
  • In presence, we will close read and comment students’ weekly exercises through singular small presentations and convivial critiques. Each student will chose and work on one singular building  in order to canonize it: week by week, through close readings and discussions, we will compose a compendium of other possible canonical buildings. Each student will “embrace”  Eisenman’s gestuality and the exercise put forward by Ten Canonical Buildings.

First Month Detailed Schedule:

09.03.2022-Week 1: Introduction to Eisenman's Ten Canonical Buildings

-(in class) Introduction to Ten Canonical Buildings with a general presentation of the key themes of research of the course; overview on the structure of the book and of the course; instalment of the seminar-like attitude of the course, presentation of the weekly exercises and presentation of the purpose of the final seminar “canonical” paper.

16.03.2022-Week 2: Canon, Canonics, Canonical

-(before class): watch the pre-recorded lecture, read Ten Canonical Buildings Foreword and Introduction and write a short text (ca. 1500 characters) in which you, on the one hand, make an Apology in favour of Eisenman’s argument (tell what you resonate with), while on the other, you make an Accusation against it (tell what you challenge). Chose a building (either from the given list, or as a spontaneous proposal) that you think can be canonized.

-(in class) close reading on few passages from other texts (Eisenman and others) inherent to the course. Individual presentation and convivial discussion about each student’s text and building: we will try to highlight groups of arguments in order to start to build a Glossary of the canon.

23.03.2022-Week 3: Profiles of Text: Luigi Moretti’s Casa il Girasole

-(before class): watch the pre-recorded lecture and read Ten Canonical Buildings chapter I on Luigi Moretti’s Casa il Girasole. Chose a drawing (plan, section, … ) that, according to you, better express the idea of the building you selected. Write a short text (ca. 1500 characters) that tells why, according to you and in dialogue with Eisenman, the building you chose can be canonized and that describes the idea of the building you selected.

-(in class) convivial discussion on the topic of the lecture and the readings: we will try to highlight groups of arguments in order to keep building a Glossary of the canon. Close reading on few passages from other texts (Eisenman and others) inherent to the course. Individual presentation and convivial discussion about each student’s text and building.

30.03.2022-Week 4: The Umbrella Diagram: Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House

(before class): watch the pre-recorded lecture and read Ten Canonical Buildings chapter II on Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House. Write a short text (ca. 1500 characters) in which you make an Apology and an Accusation about chapters I and II. Keep reflecting on your case study and expand the previous argument by coupling a close reading drawing and a very short descriptive text (ca. 400 characters).

(in class): convivial discussion on the topic of the lecture and the readings: we will keep building a Glossary of the canon by focusing on the first groups of arguments. Close reading on few passages from other texts (Eisenman and others) inherent to the course. Individual presentation and convivial discussion about each student’s text and building.



Schriftlich und Mündlich

Weitere Informationen


Generic subjectivity of the architectural idea

Form generating/Sense-making/Space Experience

Intrinsic/Extrinsic - Autonomous/Heteronomous

Matter, Light, Proportion ... Stimmung





Beachten Sie beim Verfassen der Ausarbeitung bitte die Richtlinie der TU Wien zum Umgang mit Plagiaten: Leitfaden zum Umgang mit Plagiaten (PDF)

Vortragende Personen



Evaluation will take into account:

  • Active participation to convivial discussions about the recorded lectures and capacity to discuss inventively about concepts and contents of the seminar
  • Completion of weekly exercises and participation to the common project (compendium)
  • Capacity to develop through the semester a singular research line (one building)
  • Quality of the final paper: this will be about one building that each student will canonize and it will be part of a compendium (common project of the entire class) that will extend the canon proposed by Eisenman. During the semester we will discuss and canonize together the one building chose by each student through convivial meetings and weekly exercises in order to build little by little the foundations of the final paper.


Wahlseminare14.02.2022 09:0021.02.2022 23:59


033 243 Architektur 6. SemesterSTEOP
Lehrveranstaltung erfordert die Erfüllung der Studieneingangs- und Orientierungsphase STEOP




Breidschmidt, M. (2008) The Significance of the Idea in the Architecture of Valerio Olgiati, Zurich, Verlag Niggli AG (chapter II)

Eco, U. (1999), Kant and the Platypus, Essays on Language and Cognition, New York, A Harvest Book Inc. (chapter V)

Eisenman, P. (1984), The End of the Classical: The End of the Beginning, the End of the End, Perspecta, 21, 155–173

Eisenman, P. (2006), The Formal Basis of Modern Architecture, Zurich, Lars Muller Publisher (chapters I-II-III)

Eisenman, P. (2008), Ten Canonical Buildings: 1950-2000, New York, Rizzoli

Eisenman, P. (2014), Aspects of Modernism: Maison Dom-ino and the Self-Referential Sign, Log, 30, 139–151

Foucalut, M. (1969), What is an Author? in Textual Strategies: Perspectives in Post-Structuralist Criticism, Cornell University Press

Neumeyer, F. (1991), The Artless Word, Mies van der Rohe on the Building Art, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (chapters IV-V-VI)

Olgiati, V., Breidschmidt, M. (2018) Non-Referential Architecture, Basel, Simonett & Baer

Summerson, J. (1980), The Classical Language of Architecture, London, Thames & Hudson (chapter VI)

Venturi, R. (1977), Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, New York, The Museum of Modern Art (chapter X)

Wittkower, R. (1988), Architectural Principles in the Age of Humanism, London, Academy Editions (chapters II and IV)



Weitere Informationen