Marianna Charitonidou

Research Project

The Travelling Architect’s Eye: Photography and Automobile Vision


Marianna Charitonidou
2019-2021

Pages from from Alison Smithson, AS in DS: An Eye on the Road. Baden: Lars Muller Verlag, 2001. Original edition: AS in DS: An Eye on the Road. Delft: Delft University Press, 1983. © Smithson Family Collection in Stamford, UK.

Ziel dieses Forschungsprojektes ist es, den Stellenwert der Fotografien zu untersuchen, die Architekten auf ihren Reisen mit dem Auto machen. Es basiert auf der Hypothese, dass der Blick aus dem Auto eine neue Erkenntnistheorie über die Stadtlandschaft und das Territorium im Allgemeinen etabliert hat. Die Fokussierung auf die von den untersuchten Architekten produzierten Ansichten aus dem Auto wird uns helfen, besser zu verstehen, wie dieser epistemologische Wandel das architektonische Denken und Handeln beeinflusst hat. Das Automobil hat seit seiner Erfindung unsere Vorstellungen vom Raum etabliert, indem es die Wahrnehmung der Stadt durch Architekten revolutioniert und wesentlich zur Transformation der Beziehung zwischen Architektur und Stadt beigetragen hat. Man darf die Bedeutung des Autos selbst nicht vergessen: Tatsächlich hat kein anderer Faktor die Stadt im zwanzigsten Jahrhundert so drastisch verändert wie die allgegenwärtige Präsenz des Automobils, die nicht nur die Art und Weise, wie man die Stadt betritt, sondern auch das Verhältnis der Stadt zu ihrem Territorium sehr stark beeinflusst hat. Im Mittelpunkt des Projekts steht die eingehende Auseinandersetzung mit den Fotografien der Architekten John Lautner (1911 - 1994), Alison und Peter Smithson (1928 - 1993 & 1923 - 2003) und Aldo Rossi (1931 - 1997), die zu einem breiteren Verständnis des Prozesses der Betrachtung und Fotografie von Szenen aus dem Auto und der Ausarbeitung einer "Momentaufnahme-Ästhetik" beitragen werden, um das zeitgenössische Stadtleben in seiner Alltäglichkeit und Banalität festzuhalten. Ein Punkt der Übereinstimmung zwischen dem Ansatz dieser Architekten ist die Aufmerksamkeit, die sie der Rolle des Automobilverkehrs bei der Neuausrichtung der Wahrnehmung von Stadtlandschaften und -gebieten gewidmet haben. Dieses Projekt basiert auf der Überzeugung, dass eine Entwicklung von Taxonomien der Fotografien dieser Architekten, z.B. nach Szenografie, es ermöglichen würde, Muster in ihrer Annäherung an das Stadtdesign sowie in ihren Vorstellungen vom städtischen Gefüge zu erkennen. Parallel dazu wollen wir verstehen, wie sie die Elemente der Landschaften, die ihre Aufmerksamkeit erregten, kategorisierten.

Here you can read an article related to this project:
Marianna Charitonidou, "Autopia as new perceptual regime: mobilized gaze and architectural design", City, Territory and Architecture 8(5) (2021). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40410-021-00134-1


The View from the Car: Autopia as a New Perceptual Regime


Marianna Charitonidou
2020-2021

This exhibition project entitled “The View from the Car: Autopia as a New Perceptual Regime” is based on the hypothesis that, through the visual juxtaposition of various photographs taken by several important architects of the 20th and 21st century from the car while travelling, the exhibition will make aware people about the impact of the car on the way we perceive the city. The exhibition will examine the status of the photographs that architects take during their travels by car and is based on the hypothesis that the view from the car has established a new epistemology of the urban landscape and the territory at large. The curatorship of the display of these photographs will offer the possibility to show visually the key hypotheses on which my research is based, and its key arguments and outcomes. Bringing together and juxtapose photographs and drawings from various archives conserved in several prestigious institutes and museums in both Europe and the United States, the exhibition aims to establish a transnational dialogue among scholars and architects regarding the epistemological mutations related to the new perceptual regimes that emerged thanks to the increasing role of the automobile in our quotidian experience of the cities. It will provide an overview of the role that photographing through the car played for the reinvention of the architectural and urban design strategies during the 20th and 21st century. This project aims to produce an exhibition and a catalogue that will focus on the architects' automobile vision, bringing the results of my project to a broader international public, which should be informed about this important epistemological shift vis-à-vis the urban landscape.

Through the display of clusters of photographs that share the same epistemological concerns and their juxtaposition with drawings of projects on which the architects were working during the same periods they took the photographs that will be displayed in the exhibition it will become possible to render explicit visually the influence that the automobile vision had on the understanding of architecture and urban design as practice. The main objective of the exhibition is to communicate in a tangible and concrete way how the epistemological shifts related to the car are apparent in the ways the architects and urban designers conceived their projects. The exhibition, instead of including exclusively photographs by John Lautner, Alison and Peter Smithson, and Aldo Rossi – which are the main material resources under study in my postdoctoral project – will also include photographs taken during travelling by car by architects such as Le Corbusier, and Alvar Aalto, educators such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, and art historians such as Sigfried Giedion in the framework of their travels for the well- known CIAM (Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne), conserved at the gta archives at ETH Zürich, and also an ensemble of photographs taken during travelling by car by certain architects of the Team 10, such as Jaap Bakema and Aldo van Eyck, also conserved at the gta archives at ETH Zürich. The possibility to include in the exhibition photographs by other architects as well apart from the three cases on which my postdoctoral research project is focused will render explicit the epistemological shifts related to the intensified impact of the car on the perception of the city and on the ways one transverses the city.

For more information please visit the following website: https://viewfromcarexhibition.gta.arch.ethz.ch

Research Project

Tracing the Virus: The Balcony


Tom Avermaete, Fatina, Abreek-Zubiedat, Marianna Charitonidou, Irina Davidovici, Nicole de Lalouvière, Janina Gosseye, Hamish Lonergan, Cathelijne Nuijsink, Hans Teerds, Maxime Zaugg

On 20 May 2020, Dr. Marianna Charitonidou delivered a lecture entitled “The Balcony as An Urban Element:Threshold, Common World and Rythmanalysis” in the framework of the SToA Stuttgart Talks on Architecture: Facing Covid-19 – (Politics of) Elements of Architecture
Link to the event

Stuttgart Talks on Architecture (SToA) is an event series organized by the IGmA Institute for Principles of Modern Architecture (Design and Theory), University of Stuttgart. Concept developed by Prof. Dr. Stephan Trüby & M.A. Philipp Krüpe (IGmA)

Research Project

Constantinos A. Doxiadis and Adriano Olivetti’s Post-war Reconstruction Agendas in Greece and in Italy: Centralising and Decentralising the Political Apparatus


Marianna Charitonidou

This project could be placed within a network of studies that aim to shed light on the complex relationships between the Cold War policies including the European Recovery Program (ERP), known as Marshall Plan, on the one hand, and architecture and urbanism, on the other hand. Its main objective is to provide a precise and deep understanding of how architecture and urban planning, which are related to the Marshall plan politics, contributed to the formation of national identity in both Greece and Italy. Within this context, the study places much importance on the interplay between urban planning and politics. In other words, this research is built upon the general understanding that the Marshall Plan played a crucial role in the reconstruction of Europe after the Second World War. Architecture and urbanism were very important in this respect. A starting point for the project is the identification of certain key players regarding the connection between the politics of the Marshall Plan and agendas for urban design, such as the Greek architect and town planner Constantinos A. Doxiadis (1913-1975) and the Italian industrialist Adriano Olivetti (1901-1960). In parallel, the project springs from the observation that a couple of monographic studies related to similar research topics have been conducted, but that there are as yet no comparative studies providing a clear understanding of how certain key players in both politics and urban planning, like Doxiadis and Olivetti, contributed to the formation of national identity in different national contexts. Both Doxiadis and Olivetti were agents within the Cold War and Marshall Plan policies and contributed to the different respective trajectories in which Greece and Italy respectively ended up, while using the Marshall Plan for their reconstruction after the Second World War.

Contact: Dr. ir. Marianna Charitonidou