A1 –  Managing, Building, Archiving: Corporate Architecture at the Roman Curia during the Early Modern Period
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, Vedute di Roma: Piazza di S. Pietro (ca. 1748), copperplate engraving, Public Domain.

SECTION A – Order as Control

A1 – Managing, Building, Archiving: Corporate Architecture at the Roman Curia during the Early Modern Period

Cecilia Cristellon, Birgit Emich, Sebastian Glunz

Institute of History at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main


Using the example of the Roman Curia of the early modern period, this subproject examines the connection between the architectural framing of state rule and its bureaucratic function of imposing order. The present research project is based on the basic assumption that the architectural configuration of administrative and social spaces (i.e. urban, public spaces in which social life unfolds) and the ordering activities and structures that develop within them are in a constantly interdependent relationship. In terms of time, the project focuses on the early modern period, a central thrust phase in the history of state power, during which clear consolidation processes of state rule can be observed. These processes are particularly reflected by the expansion of authorities and their archives. In a figurative sense, the development of state power from premodern times to the present day can always be described as an unfolding of the administrative and archival landscapes. However, authorities and archives have also experienced an expansion in the literal sense: both the institutions and their archives required physical premises. It is well known that their structural design combines functional considerations with representative needs. The consequences that architectural framing could have on the activities and self-image of authorities and archives, and how the interrelationship between the orders of architecture and the ordering activities of authorities and archives can be described, however, have hardly been addressed until now. This subproject focuses on the dialectical control of architectural and bureaucratic order. In order to get to the bottom of the interrelationship between managing, building, and archiving, as well as possible processes of differentiation, the present subproject will not only analyze selected authorities and their archives from the various fields of activity of the spiritual-worldly dual rule of the Roman Curia, but will also, among other things, use an investigation of the Patriarchate of Venice and its struggle for its own autonomy vis-à-vis the Holy See and the Serenissima to ask about the relationship between different centers and peripheries.

As part of this project, an international workshop is planned for the summer of 2021 that will focus on the relationship between rule, administration, archiving, and their spatial order in the empires of the early modern era.

A 2 – Corporate Architecture: Legal Structures and Built Spaces as Ordering Regimes of Corporate Modernity
Gotthard Müller, Structure, 1962, Pushpins, oil on canvas, Private collection, Bad Homburg.

SECTION A – Order as Control

A 2 – Corporate Architecture: Legal Structures and Built Spaces as Ordering Regimes of Corporate Modernity

Pietro Cesari, Daniel Damler

Max Planck Institute for European Legal History Frankfurt am Main


The rise of the corporation to become the world’s most important private-sector actor marks a deep turning point in modern history. This development, which began at the end of the 19th century, seems irreversible today, because corporations are essential to modern economies. It was not least the formation of corporate groups, i.e. the acquisition of shares and the consequent control of one company by another, that opened up completely new legal and economic perspectives. The architectural implications of this institutional revolution remain insufficiently investigated.

The first research project by Pietro Cesari addresses the managerial system of control and coordination and the relative models. They find their spatial and functional declination and characterization in the buildings of headquarters and the relative subsidiaries, in their intersected services of managerial training and R&D centres. The focus is on three case studies of large corporations from the USA, Italy and Germany.

The second research project deals with the architectures of fictional corporations as they appear in films, comics, computer games and other forms of visual narrative.