Architecture and Failure
31st seminar on architectural history


Even more than painting and sculpture, architecture involves some important extraneous factors: time, continuity, and money. Large-scale works are conditioned by political decisions or changing long-term visions, and so are often jeopardized by lengthy construction times. 

For this reason, many bold and visionary large projects were not built and remained on paper, or were interrupted by the changing fortunes of individuals, families, or institutions, or by politics. The reasons were often traumatic, such as the death of the architect or patron, natural disasters, or the onset of war. They were sometimes precipitated by economics, or due to a misalignment with the course of history, either becoming obsolete or, by contrast, being too far ahead of their time. They were sometimes too complicated or overly ambitious to be fully realized. Occasionally, however, a failure was the impetus for subsequent successfully realized projects. 

Beginning with mythical constructions like the Tower of Babel, the seminar will explore interrupted or unbuilt architectural projects from ancient times to the present, from the great medieval cathedrals to the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome and projects on an urban scale, and from the reconstruction of London in 1666 to Le Corbusier and the Algeri project.  

Christof Thoenes conceived the original idea for the seminar, which is being developed by Guido Beltramini (CISA Andrea Palladio) and Howard Burns (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa).  


[20’ lectures followed by 10’ of discussion; each session will end with a final comment by the chairman]

Thursday, June 7th 
/ morning
9:30 Kurt W. Forster (MIT Architecture, Cambridge MA), Successful Failures – Failures of Success? 
10:00 Micòl Di Teodoro (University College London), Frozen moments: unfinished buildings in Pharaonic Egypt. 
10:30 Pierre Gros (Institut de France, Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Paris), La Rome de César et du Haut Empire. Les grands travaux comme l’expression d’une puissance démiurgique : arrogance du pouvoir et limites techniques. 
(coffee break)
11:30 Fernando Rigon Forte (Padua), San Tommaso e i palazzi del Cielo. 
12:00 Klaus Tragbar (Universität Innsbruck), Il Duomo Nuovo di Siena o il fallimento di un grande progetto. 
12:30 Giovanni Santucci (Università degli Studi di Pisa), I progetti per il completamento del Duomo Nuovo di Siena di Baldassarre Peruzzi. Un’utopia possibile.

Thursday, June 7th / afternoon 
14:30 Christof Thoenes (Bibliotheca Hertziana, Rome), San Pietro.
15:00 Hubertus Günther (Universität Zürich), Progettazione e costruzione di San Giovanni dei Fiorentini a Roma. Concorrenza tra idealismo principesco e pragmatismo commerciale.
15:30 Vitale Zanchettin (Musei Vaticani, Rome), Un fallimento programmato: Michelangelo, San Giovanni dei Fiorentini e il tamburo della cupola di San Pietro.
(coffee break)
16:30 Pier Nicola Pagliara (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), Il progetto di Bramante per i Tribunali di Giulio II.
17:00 Jean Guillaume (Centre d'Etudes Supérieures de la Renaissance, Université de Tours), Il sogno di Carlo IX: lo château reale di Charleval. 
17:30 Dimitry Shivdkovskj (Moscow Architectural Institute), Renaissance Moscow: Survived and Destroyed.

Friday, June 8th / morning 
9:30 Howard Burns (Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa), Lord Burlington sorpreso: ville e palazzi palladiani incompiuti. 
10:00 Guido Beltramini (CISA Andrea Palladio, Vicenza), Giocondo, Palladio e i progetti per Rialto: fallimento o manifesto? 
10:30 Antonio Foscari (Università IUAV, Venice), Il progetto di Palladio per la ricostruzione del Palazzo Ducale di Venezia. 
(coffee break)
11:30 Fulvio Lenzo (Università IUAV, Venice), Il fallimento di un trionfo. Borromini e le pietre di Sant'Agnese. 
12:00 Gordon Higgott (Society of Antiquaries of London), Sir Christopher Wren’s failed project for a crossing tower and spire at Westminster Abbey, 1713-1725. 
12:30 Federica Rossi (Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz - MPI / Archivio del Moderno - USI), Fallimenti, distruzioni e identità: il caso di Mosca.

Friday, June 8th /afternoon 
14:30 Susanna Pasquali (Università La Sapienza, Rome), Più grandi le aspettative, maggiore il fallimento: per un elenco delle poste in gioco nei progetti di architettura del secondo Settecento. 
15:00 Marco Rosario Nobile, Domenica Sutera (Università degli Studi di Palermo), Alcuni casi di facciate “interrotte” nella Sicilia del Settecento: storie di fallimenti e di conflitti. 
15:30 Fernando Marías, José Riello (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), Una nuova Madrid per José I Bonaparte.
(coffee break)
16:30 Werner Oechslin (ETH Zürich), “Babylonisch-ungeheuer” e “orientalisch-kolossal”: Josef Ponten e l’architettura mai costruita. 
17:00 Mirko Zardini (Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal), Great Expectations: A Story of Post-war Architecture.
17:30 Conclusions