Beauty in Architecture

International Workshop co-organized by Nele De Raedt (UCLouvain) and Maarten Delbeke (ETH Zurich)

Nele De Raedt

This workshops brings together architects, architectural historians, critics and theorists, as well as a legal scholar together to discuss beauty in architecture today. Despite its recent resurgence in public debates about the built environment, the notion of beauty remains problematic and contested in critical discourse about architecture. When the topic is addressed, it is either treated with suspicion, historicized or contextualised, or substituted with other – often equally problematic – terms, such as order,legibility, atmosphere, or character. This workshop starts from the premise that a conversation about beauty in architecture is necessary. Not only because the general public speaks easily and frequently about beauty in architecture, but also because we believe that much can be gained by taking it seriously.

The workshop takes up the challenge of (re)initiating a conversation about beauty in architecture, and posits this should be done by reflecting on the themes, categories, and concepts used in such a conversation. Talking about beauty engages reflections on its ontology and what it involves: values, communities, collectives and (shared) histories, as well as political or legal mechanisms and institutions. The workshop aims to initiate a conversation on beauty in architecture, and questions how such a conversation should take shape. 

This workshop is made possible thanks to the financial support of the ETH Zürich and the Research Institute for Landscape, Architecture and Built Environment (LAB, UCLouvain).

The closed workshop takes place at the Villa Hatt, Zürich on 16 September 2022.


Morning session

Brigitte Sölch “Architecture, Beauty and Spheres of Democracy. Public architecture =City Halls as example”

Stéphanie De Somer “The Place of Beauty in the Law on the Built Environment: a Flemish Perspective”

SaarMeganck “The pink-fingered dawn”

Daniel Sik “Formal Beauty, Conceptual Beauty, Stylistic Beauty: Using the affectivesciences to create language for discussing architectural beauty”

Afternoon session

Christophe Van Gerrewey “Heartbreaking, Tremendous, Terrifying”

Willem Jan Neutelings “How reductionism cancelled beauty”

Hong Wan Chan “For a measured beauty. Reading late-imperial regulations andlocal materialisations in the Pearl River Delta”

Adam Caruso “Beauty Framed”

Branko Mitrovic “Beauty and Aesthetic Formalism in Architectural Theory”



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