The international conference will address the changes in values taking place in western countries before and after the economic crisis of 1973, and discuss the crisis' influence on housing production, urban planning, and architectural discourse to this day.
The conference will take place at ETH Zurich on Thursday, October 11 and Friday, October 12, 2012. It is free to the public, registration is not required. Papers will be presented in French, German or English, discussions will be held in English.
1972 was a pivotal year for architectural education at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, or ETH, in Zurich. Despite significant student opposition, the university president and department directors cancelled the contracts of three planners who had been teaching at the department of architecture in an immediate reaction to their critical studies of the large-scale housing estates developed by the Ernst Göhner corporation. To calm further student protest, the university brought in the Italian architect Aldo Rossi as a visiting professor, who was at this time a member of the communist party, but whose architectural position also helped to institutionalize the shift from an architectural pedagogy grounded in the social sciences toward one that privileged design. In the following years, this approach was further institutionalized and is referred to today as «autonomous architecture».
This episode serves as the point of departure for the conference «The Göhner Case. On the crisis of large-scale housing production in the 1970s». How did the housing needs of western societies change in the early 1970s? How was this structural change addressed in the architectural discipline? Which media and which scientific research contributed to altering the general and disciplinary perception of large-scale housing so fundamentally within less than a decade?
Presentations will be held in French or German, panel discussions in English.
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