C 1 – Parallel Projection as ‘Symbolic Form’
monadnock, axonometrische Ansicht des Nationalen Historischen Museums, Berlage Institut (Studie), 2010-11.

SECTION C – Order as Design

C 1 – Parallel Projection as ‘Symbolic Form’

Chris Dähne, Sara Hillnhütter, Barbara Wittmann

Art History Institute at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Institute for Art History, Art Theory and Aesthetics at the Berlin University of the Arts


Since Erwin Panofsky’s famous essay on perspective as ‘symbolic form’ (Panofsky 1927), the history of central perspective has received some attention both within and outside of art history. In recent decades in particular, art historians and philosophers have discussed extensively, following Panofsky’s thesis, the ways in which and the effects with which central perspective could gain the status of a binding model of visual perception, consciousness, or subjectivity. What remained largely underexposed in this debate was the fact that the use of imaging rays converging on one point could by no means establish itself in all areas of the arts and sciences as a privileged medium of planning. Perspective primarily established itself in the visual arts as the (supposed) equivalent of the one-eyed perception of space; in the sciences, the engineering arts and architecture, various forms of parallel projection already dominated in early modern times (and continue to do so today).

This subproject aims to conduct a historically broad, comparative investigation into the different forms of parallel projection in architecture, the arts, and the (engineering) sciences. Orthogonal projections, isometrics and all other methods of parallel projection shift the vanishing point of the rays into infinity, so that the projection rays are nearly parallel. The images generated in this way ensure a greater fidelity of form by eliminating the dimensionally distorting depth defects of the vanishing point perspective resulting from the convergence of the projection beams. Parallel projections therefore offer more or less abstract spatial representations from which dimensions can be taken directly. They are thus operative images that both enable and challenge our sight, thoughts and actions.

The research project of Chris Dähne investigates axonometry as a graphical method of spatial planning between analog and digital media. Contemporary architecture also makes use of this traditional procedure, and its role in the production of architecture must be questioned, especially against the backdrop of digitalization. To what extent is axonometry generatively involved in the design process and what role does the computer play in this?


Publications on the project topic (selection):

Werkzeuge des Entwerfens, Ed. by Barbara Wittmann, Schriften des Internationalen Kollegs für Kulturtechnikforschung und Medienphilosophie, Bd. 30, Zürich: diaphanes, 2018.

Planbilder. Medien der Architekturgestaltung, Ed. by Sara Hillnhütter, Bildwelten des Wissens, Bd. 11, Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015.

Dähne, Chris: „Die analogen Bilder digital entworfener Architektur“, in: Wolkenkuckucksheim|Cloud-Cuckoo-Land, Zeitschrift zur Theorie der Architektur: Mediale Praktiken des architektonischen Entwerfens, Heft Nr. 40, 2020 (in print).

C 2 – Contentious Urban Order: Contemporary Reconstruction Processes
Baroque staging at the Dresden Neumarkt, Photo: Leonie Plänkers.

SECTION C – Order as Design

C 2 – Contentious Urban Order: Contemporary Reconstruction Processes

Nina Gribat, Leonie Plänkers

Department of Urban Planning at the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus – Senftenberg, Department of Architecture at the Technical University of Darmstadt


The topic of this subproject is the analysis of urban planning approaches to order in contemporary reconstruction processes. Since the early 1980s, the concept of “critical reconstruction” in urban planning has been the subject of a lively debate in the context of the International Building Exhibition in Berlin about the relationship with historical forms and urban layouts (Burg 1994, Hoffmann-Axthelm 1994, Klein/Sigel 2006). However, previous discourses since the end of the 1960s (Berndt et al. 1969, Helms/Janssen 1971) and more recent debates in the 2010s (Hassler/Nerdinger 2010, BMVBS 2010, von Buttlar et al. 2010) also take a look at this issue, which ultimately concerns the relationship between architecture and society. In contrast to designs that develop a new urban configuration, reconstructions historically refer to earlier ideas of urban order. Building ensembles or districts are reconstructed according to historical urban ground plans that were either demolished in the course of an earlier urban reorganization or destroyed in a war – often with substantial changes.

The focus of Leonie Plänkers’ dissertation project is to investigate the effects that urban planning reconstruction projects of the so-called “postmodern reconstruction wave” have on the city and urban society during their utilization phase. The heated debates leading up to realization, in which multifaceted expectations of the effects of reconstruction projects became clear, are countered by an empirical survey. It asks about which of the assumptions can be confirmed today and which new everyday practices, orders, and narratives the reconstruction projects produce. The development of an adapted methodological approach is intended to achieve interdisciplinary methodological progress in researching these effects. The dissertation project aims not only to contribute to qualifying the debates on reconstructive and historical planning, but also to gain insights into the effects of architecture in urban space in general.

C 3 – Architectural Concepts of Order in long-term Artistic Projects since 1980
Looking at architecture through art: Art students are working off the CalArts Campus, 1971, Courtesy of the California Institute of the Arts Library Archives.

SECTION C – Order as Design

C 3 – Architectural Concepts of Order in long-term Artistic Projects since 1980

Sina Brückner-Amin, Rembert Hüser

Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt am Main


The seemingly obvious certainties of architecture have always been accompanied by its fundamental criticism via the medium of art. The fact that artists deconstruct built environments and build counter-worlds that do not follow the rules at the moment, but rather test and subvert their bearing and reach in alternative scenarios, opens up the possibilities of a dialogue that is not always acknowledged. The mutually influential fields of art and architecture often run next to each other in a conceptually carefully separated manner.

Now, since the 2010s at the latest, it is evident that the sciences are catching up more conceptually with what had already been tackled in a whole series of artistic works in the 1960s and 1970s: namely, to keep the respective fields of practice co-present to such a high degree that it is no longer possible to clearly determine in which area the respective use is carried out. Not only is art on site increasingly approached from the perspective of architecture, art also sees itself and acts explicitly as a part of architecture in these works (Wallace/Wendl 2013). The fact that order is to be understood more as a combination of different media, institutions and practices as opposed to their differences is the current state of affairs in the field of expanded media debates (Schüttpelz/Gießmann 2015, Michell 2017). Theoretical explorations of the relationship between, for example, architecture and science (Galison/Thompson 1999) or architecture and comic strips (van der Hoorn 2012) are designed as collaborations.

Against this background, long-term artistic projects since the 1980s and 1990s appear particularly revealing. These projects do not only take into account the radical media upheavals during those years, the social popularization of computer technology and the commercial use of the Internet, and the incipient digitalization of all areas of life, but also position themselves simultaneously in various fields of practice with moving inventories. Can these long-term projects themselves be understood as a history of ongoing collisions and renegotiations of architectural and non-architectural narratives of order?

Rembert Hüser’s project explores, as examples, the drawings and films of Heinz Emigholz (Architecture as Autobiography, The Basis of Make Up), the drawings and architectural models of Mike Kelley (Educational Complex, Candor), and the drawings of Richard McGuire (Here, The New Yorker Magazine), and examines how and at what points these three long-term projects newly accentuate previous artistic projects that had dealt with the breaking through of the orthogonal, the ordered layers (floors) of the building or the problematization of the demarcation of a territory through architecture.

The dissertation project of Sina Brückner-Amin is interested in the bureaucratization of art practice within the university system of Los Angeles between 1945-1970. By developing concepts of “master planning” in the legislative, architectural, and pedagogical fields, the project ties cybernetic theory formation and rationalization tendencies of the post-war period back to their material traces and contrasts the discourse on “experimental” and “radical” art education in California with the Radical of order. The tripartite structure is the result of the material under study: the Master Plan for Higher Education (1945-1960), the built architectures of the art departments of UCLA and the California Institute of the Arts, and the art education practiced – and thus influenced – by them.