3 May 2012 - 5 May 2012 All day Department of Architecture, 1 Scroope Terrace and CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge


A University of Cambridge Department of Architecture Centenary Event


Dr Marco Iuliano (Architecture, University of Cambridge)
Dr François Penz (Architecture, University of Cambridge)


Conference summary


“We have an architecture still”, wrote Philip Johnson in 1932. Eighty years later we could say that we have a ‘still architecture’: too often, our first encounter with a building comes from looking at an image, usually a photograph. However, despite its importance in shaping our perception of the reality, the study of architectural photography is underestimated. The conference analyzes the potentialities of photography as a source of creative imagination and as a tool for spatial knowledge, aiming to develop a novel interpretation of architecture from avant-garde movements to present. The following four themes are key to this challenge:



Visual information often replaces the real experience: what is the impact on architecture? Our knowledge and spatial imagination about architectures have often been shaped by a photographic vision that preconditions not only our perception of an object, but also our conception of it and our relationship to it. An interdisciplinary panel of scholars will explore the issue.  



architects and photography
The legacy of the Maestri, from the 1920’s onwards, is fundamental: all were aware of the role of photographic media and were sometimes in control of it. A comparative reading of the role of the architect as photographer and the relationship between architects and photographers is crucial to an understanding of contemporary architectural discourse.



Photographic archives play a central role in the accurate reconstruction of the architectural object. The documents they preserve are not nostalgic images but dynamic ones: while every photograph has its own historical integrity, it can be re-interpreted through new connections and juxtapositions emerging from meticulous archival research.  



cultural transmission, translatability 
At every moment, either directly or through the medium of newspaper and reviews, we are presented with objects of an arresting novelty. All these objects of modern life create, in the long run, a modern state of mind’. Le Corbusier’s statement, still valid today, outlines the challenge: are we able to understand the real trajectory of a representation from its reproduction in another medium to its expression in different contexts and cultures?





Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH), University of Cambridge, and the EU-FP7 Marie Curie Actions. Printing and mounting for the exhibition 'Cambridge in Concrete' by Spectrum.


Institutional partners

The conference will be held in collaboration with the RIBA Photographs Collection;

the Architectural Association, MA in History and Critical Thinking; and MAXXI, Museo Nazionale delle Arti del XXI secolo (Rome).



Secretariat Building at Chandigarh © J Paul Getty Trust, The Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2002.R.41). The conference conveners are very grateful for the generous support of the Getty Research Institute.



Accommodation for non-paper giving delegates

We are unable to arrange accommodation, however, the following websites may be of help.

Visit Cambridge
Cambridge Rooms
University of Cambridge accommodation webpage

NB. CRASSH is not able to help with the booking of accommodation.


Administrative assistance: Helga Brandt (Conference Programme Manager, CRASSH)


Tel: +44 1223 766886
Email enquiries@crassh.cam.ac.uk