20th International Seminar on the History of Architecture
Guarino Guarini (1624-1683)

Turin-Vicenza, May 19-24, 2002
coordinated by Giuseppe Dardanello, Susan Klaiber, Henry A. Millon, Werner Oechslin

Guarino Guarini, born in Modena, arrived at architecture by a most uncommon route: a member of the Teatino religious order, as well as philosopher, mathematician, and theorist without design experience, Guarini came to the practice of building on one hand through books and reading, and on the other through travels and sojourns in the convents of his order which from Modena took him to Rome, Venice, Sicily, Paris and other parts of France, and finally to Turin for an extended period, with brief trips to the Veneto and Emilia regions and Milan.

The objective of this seminar – which will allow participants a first-hand look at the entire body of Guarini’s architectural and graphic work – is to examine by direct analysis the existing buildings and drawings by the Teatino architect. Particular attention will be dedicated to the analysis of Guarini’s design process, from the moment in which he laid pencil to paper to the study of the techniques used to translate each project into a built work: the systematic use of geometry in the construction of the project in plan and elevation; the use of building techniques foreign to contemporary Italian experience, such as stereotomy and ribbed structures of Gothic origin; the geometric definition of the static-structural system and the ambivalent relationship between form and structure; the determining importance accorded to visual perception and the light-space relationship. 

The seminar will begin in Turin, where the majority of the architect’s built works and drawings are found, and will then move to Modena, Verona and Vicenza, the other cities where Guarini was active, and where buildings and project drawings still exist. The concluding days in Vicenza will be dedicated to a synthetic reading of the literature regarding the intellectual and professional aspects of Guarini’s life, as well as his interaction with the architectural culture of Seventeenth-century Europe. 

The seminar will take place both through lectures and inside the Guarinian buildings, in actual “on-site” lectures, in which various specialists will offer participants a concise introduction (including a history of the critical literature, patronage, design process, reconstruction of the original state of works, typology, formal and iconographic analysis) and coordinate the discussion. Participants will receive a dossier with graphic reference materials (including Guarinian drawings, surveys or reconstruction drawings), a chronological grid detailing the building phases and bibliographic information. In this way it will be possible to realise the true scope of the seminar: a group analysis and interpretation of each historical building.

The seminar has been organised by a group of specialists coordinated by Giuseppe Dardanello (Università di Torino), Susan Klaiber (Columbia University), Henry A. Millon (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Werner Oechslin (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich).