Iron. Its early rise in architectural history

  Iron Copyright: © Art history


Andreas Gormans © Copyright: Art history


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Please register for the exam in good time!

The exam will take place on 19.08.2021.



Iron - to this day a material with unique qualities and of immense importance: first and foremost heavy, initially rusty and only castable, then later - refined into steel - largely weather-resistant, plastically deformable, capable of withstanding not only pressure but also tension; in terms of cultural history it is even so important that an entire age has been named after it. In architecture, on the other hand, it experienced an unprecedented boom in the middle of the 19th century, because iron, with its abundance of advantages, advanced to solve numerous new building tasks, which could now be mastered in an impressively short time due to the possibility of serial prefabrication.

The aim of the seminar is to turn to the first chapter in the history of the use of iron in European architecture. The starting point of this unique success story is therefore England and the Industrial Revolution; at the beginning there are bridges and greenhouses. This was followed in Paris, the city that Walter Benjamin could just as well have called the "capital of iron", by arcades, department stores, warehouses, exhibition and market halls, train stations and libraries, churches and towers, among which the one built by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 World's Fair is certainly the most prominent.

Since for two millennia prior to the appearance of these building tasks, construction was almost exclusively in stone, questions about the acceptance and legitimacy of this material will also be considered; likewise, the relationship between architect and engineer, between artistic creation and serial production will be inquired into. Where appropriate, voices of the time will also be heard in order to learn how the new architectures were perceived at the time of their creation.


Online event

Iron. Its early rise in architectural history

B. Sc. // all semesters // Elective course



Fridays, 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

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