5. July 2023 | Press releases:

Inaugural Lectures by Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Helga Blocksdorf and Prof. Dan Schürch On exploring the tension between design and construction and an appeal for a renaissance of beauty

Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Helga Blocksdorf, Institute for Construction, and Prof. Dan Schürch, Institute of Building Design, will give their inaugural lectures on

Wednesday, 12 July 2023, at 5:00 pm,
Grotrian Süd, Zeichensaal ZI 24.1, Zimmerstraße 24c-d, 38106 Braunschweig.

Inaugural Lecture “Über das Ausloten des Spannungsfeldes zwischen Entwurf und Konstruktion” (On exploring the field of tension between design and construction)
by Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Helga Blocksdorf

The pressing question of the ecological implications of building leads to a recalibration of the entire design and construction process. This shows how the need for a radical regeneration of the building process (Gengnagel) challenges the exploration of the field of tension between idea, construction and resource and provokes the invention of entirely new personæ on the stage of architectural qualities.

There are points in the design where the idea of building in accordance with the questions of our time—and thus questioning the state of the art—overlaps with planning law, building physics, sound and fire protection regulations and above all with structural-constructive questions. The entire complexity of the requirements condenses into a seemingly unsolvable problem.

Described by Jan Turnovsky in the “Poetik des Mauervorsprungs” as the predetermined breaking point between the concept’s moment of will and the empirical material’s moment of resistance, the targeted search for these points methodologically develops its own generative power. It expands the Miesian understanding of construction into a condensed, design-driving moment at which a project may threaten to fail and is solved precisely from there. Conceptually, the handling of contemporary works thus often leaves behind the classical understanding of “through to the detail” and shows itself to be an expandable rhizome in the sense of the living language of architecture.

About the person

Helga Blocksdorf studied architecture at the Bauhaus University Weimar and graduated from the Berlin University of the Arts. She then worked for Staab Architekten in Berlin. From 2007 to 2012, she was a research associate at the chair of Ute Frank – Department of Design and Building Construction at TU Berlin. There, Helga Blocksdorf helped establish the colloquium “EKLAT – Entwerfen und Konstruieren in Lehre, Anwendung und Theorie” (Design and Construction in Teaching, Application and Theory), which can be considered a forerunner of today’s programme Entwurfsbasierte Promotion (PEP). Since 2013 she has been a freelance architect with her office Helga Blocksdorf/Architecture. From October 2020 to March 2021, she was assistant professor for Constructive Design and Testing at the Bauhaus University Weimar. Since April 2021, she has headed the Institute for Construction at TU Braunschweig.

Inaugural Lecture “Plädoyer für eine Renaissance des Schönen” (Appeal for a Renaissance of Beauty)
by Prof. Dan Schürch

Until the 18th century, the beautiful, the good and the true were key concepts from the knowledge of idealist theories. Only with the Enlightenment and the modern subject was the beautiful relegated to a lower level of knowledge. In 1757, David Hume wrote that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and no one has the right to impose his idea of taste on another.

So is beauty subjective or is there such a thing as objective beauty? Can beauty be regulated? Does beauty only have to be functional and ethically correct or does it even have to be scientifically derived? Should we justify and dogmatically teach beauty?

Beauty hardly features in the current architectural discussion. Beautiful, just a layman’s term that the expert is reluctant to utter. As professionals, we like to avoid the term, preferring to use words like aesthetics, design and architectural attitude.

But perhaps the concept of beauty could experience a renaissance and become a kind of key concept for the design of the future.

About the person

Dan Schürch did an apprenticeship as a structural draughtsman, then studied architecture at the ZHAW Winterthur. This was followed by an internship at DRFTWD in Amsterdam. He then worked for Meili, Peter Architekten Zurich. He was also a research associate with Prof. Markus Peter and Prof. Peter Märkli in the field of construction and design at the ETH Zurich. Together with Anne Kaestle, he founded the architectural practice Duplex Architekten in Zurich in 2007. In 2011, Studio Duplex was added, with offices in Düsseldorf and Hamburg. Since April 2020, Professor Dan Schürch has been head of the Institute of Building Design.