80 308 Architecture makes history - Rome


The course is taught in Rome and is only open for, and mandatory for students that enroll in the studio course Re-store Rome: Projections and Transformation of History taught by Bryony Roberts.

Course content

The elective course investigates how Rome’s architecture and the idea of history entwine. “Temporality”, “history”, and “past” are no abstract notions but ingredients of and in architectural practices at all times.

The course will systematically analyze how the idea of the past is framed, conveyed, invented in architecture, and in an architectural discourse, in a series of case studies, from antiquity to the present, which will include buildings, models, drawings, prints, texts. We shall look beyond the monuments and rather hunt for the collisions and cover-ups between epochs in order to learn how architecture uses history strategically and practically. A hypothesis is that materials and media as such contribute to shape the past, not the other way around, combining in a temporal chain we call history. Things that produce the past may range from a strategic use of materials like marble, concrete and plaster to signs, wires, lighting or other simple devices employed to camouflage that ancient buildings in reality have become modern. For one might say that history does not exist other than as a display of the present. By what means does Rome historicize its legacy? How can we say that a building “exist” in the past? When and how do monuments become ancient and for what purpose? Do buildings themselves – their historicity, additions, preservation, reconstructions – in some way structure temporality and the notion of time’s passing?

The course’s aim is to unravel strategies from Roman antiquity to Mussolini’s fascism, to stage, censor, and alter history through the means of building. We have classed these strategies in three groups – materials, mediations, annexations. Each group consists of case studies – one each day – which we will study in depth and that include archaeological sites, buildings, print collections, and architectural texts.

Learning outcomes

The course will give a first-hand knowledge of Rome’s architecture, from antiquity to the present, and more specifically of the various material, spatial and medial strategies with which Rome’s heritage is constructed and transmitted. The student will acquire insight into architectural history and its theoretical and methodological challenges. Investigations into the “construction of the past” in marble, concrete, plaster, and in drawing, print and text, will expand the student’s practical knowledge. With concrete examples from history, the course provides the student with a “toolbox” of references and options to consult and use in the career as an architect.

Working and learning activities

Architecture makes history consists of a combination of lectures, seminars and visits to selected monuments and other venues in Rome. The course requires active participation in seminars and the student is expected to make drawings on site, use photography, take notes, sample materials or otherwise gather data for this/her work with the assignment.

Professor in charge

Victor P. Tschudi

Mandatory work requirements

Work requirements Number Number of approved Mandatory presence Comment

The course starts on 17. August at AHO with an introduction. However, classes normally spread throughout the term is here concentrated in a successive run of nine days in Rome the period 6.–16. September. Teaching in Rome starts Tuesday 6. September. The course will be followed by a study week (“fordypningskursuke”) devoted to individual work with the assignments. The students are expected to arrange their own travel and find living quarters on their own.


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination

The elective course Architecture makes history forms a double bill with the studio course Re-store Rome: Projections and Transformation of History, led by Bryony Roberts, which runs parallel. Participation at both courses is mandatory. The assignment for the elective course consists of a hand-in in the form of drawing, model, or text that document the conflict or overlap between the past and present with an example related to the course. The hand-in will be taken up and further developed in the studio course Re-store Rome, and final assessment will be in December.