of Architecture
Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture


Mendrisio Academy Press


Gottfried Semper’s years of exile in London (1850-55) were a time of highly inspiring experiences. The London of the Great Exhibition offered the German architect an immense trove of objects for study and an intellectual environment that provided seminal impulses for his innovative cultural-historical theory of architecture. The present volume, resulting from a collaborative SNSF research project of the Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture, Università della Svizzera italiana, and the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture, ETH Zurich, positions Semper as both an observer and actor in this period. It goes beyond focusing on Semper as an individual person and considers his work as a designer, teacher, and writer of architecture against the backdrop of the historical, architectural, and disciplinary surroundings.

Texts by: Elena Chestnova, Murray Fraser, Michael Gnehm, Sonja Hildebrand, Mari Hvattum, Claudio Leoni, Kate Nichols, Alina Payne, Philip Ursprung, Caroline van Eck, Dieter Weidmann, Beat Wyss.

Architectural History and Globalized Knowledge. Gottfried Semper in London

edited by Michael Gnehm, Sonja Hildebrand
Mendrisio: Mendrisio Academy Press and Zurich: gta Verlag, 2021

19 x 24,5 cm

216 pp.

88 ill. col., 24 ill. b/w


ISBN 9783856764098

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3929/ethz-b-000501065

CHF 35.00 /  € 35.00

Open Access

Through an analysis of the artistic and social dynamics underlying the organisation and direction of the important construction site of Como cathedral, on which painters, master glass-makers, goldsmiths and sculptors were active, and by retracing the historiography of the four brothers Rodari, the volume reconstructs the work of Tommaso and his workshop, reordering the chronology of some works and proposing a linear path from his early to his late activity.

Preface by Giovanni Agosti.

Tommaso Rodari

e il Rinascimento comasco

Mirko Moizi
19 x 24,5 cm

340 pp.

196 ill. b/w, 8 ill. col.



Silvana Editoriale

ISBN 9788836644759

40 € / 40.‒ frs

Architecture and Knowledge, as the volume’s title effectively anticipates, presents numerous essays exploring the multiple forms of knowledge involved in architectural art. The contributions speak of the relations between architecture and technology, political thought, planning, philosophy, history, hermeneutics, anthropology, psychology and aesthetics. This, however, does not take the form of an encroachment on other disciplinary fields, but confirms the “holistic” structure of architecture, an art that in its exercise must inevitably draw on a broad range of cultural and scientific instruments.

Architecture as an open art, enriched by the dialogue with multiple forms of knowledge, is, moreover, the most precious legacy we receive from the great architectural works of history, from both the remote past and modernity.


Texts by: Tim Benton, Silvia Berselli, Veronica Biermann, Matthias Brunner, Howard Burns, Jasper Cepl, Elena Chestnova, Michael Gnehm, Roberta Grignolo, Natalie Heger, Sonja Hildebrand, Daniela Mondini, Sascha Roesler, Angelika Schnell

Architettura e saperi

Architecture and Knowledge

a cura di / edited by

Sonja Hildebrand, Daniela Mondini,
Roberta Grignolo

19 x 24.5 cm, 248 pp.

97 ill. col., 55 ill. b/w


italian, english

Silvana Editoriale

ISBN 9788836639748

30 € / 35.‒ frs

This collection of studies investigates the works and cultural context of Giovanni Battista Mola and his son Pier Francesco, who hailed from Coldrerio (Canton Ticino, Switzerland) but were mainly active in Rome and the Papal States. Both were inquiring and many-sided, like their art. The former expressed his talent through architecture and historiographic writings; the latter, after an early training with his father, turned to painting, drawing and caricature, playing an important part on the Roman scene, where he was imitated by his pupils and colleagues as the highly appreciated inventor of new iconographic themes inspired by the ancient world.

Preface by Christoph Frank.


Texts by: Adriano Amendola, Sonja Brink, Patrizia Cavazzini, Valeria Di Giuseppe Di Paolo, Federico Fischetti, Axel Christoph Gampp, Carla Mazzarelli, Elisabeth Oy-Marra, Simonetta Prosperi Valenti Rodinò, Antonio Russo, Giovanni Santucci, Cinzia Maria Sicca, Yuri Strozzieri, Caterina Volpi, Jörg Zutter.

I Mola da Coldrerio tra dissenso e accademia nella Roma Barocca

edited by

Adriano Amendola, Jörg Zutter

19 x 24,5 cm, 328 pp.

190 ill. b/w, 18 ill. col.



Silvana Editoriale

ISBN 9788836638567

€ 35 / frs. 40.‒

During the last twenty years, the topic of form has become one of the most controversial issues in public and professional discussions about architecture. Hardly anyone reflected on this as intensely as the 2015 Pritzker Prize winner Frei Otto, whose concept of Form-Finding is aimed at preventing any processes of designing or shaping.

This book aims to re-examine the issue by expanding on the exemplary case of Frei Otto. The subject is approached from varyingly wide perspectives, ranging from pathways to form in engineering research and in experimental model-making to the ideological-critical reflections on form by Oswald Mathias Ungers and Rem Koolhaas.


Texts by Elisabeth Bergmann, Daniela Fabricius, Roberta Grignolo, Sonja Hildebrand, Sean Keller, Kurt Möser, Gabriele Neri, Stefan Neuhäuser with Martin Weickgenannt, Christoph Witte, Walter Haase, Oliver Sawodny and Werner Sobek, Lara Schrijver.

Form-Finding, Form-Shaping, Designing Architecture

Experimental, Aesthetical, and Ethical Approaches to Form

in Recent and Postwar Architecture

edited by

Sonja Hildebrand,

Elisabeth Bergmann

19 x 24,5 cm, 180 pp.

56 ill. col., 51 ill. b/w


english, italian

Silvana Editoriale

ISBN 9788836632657

€ 32 / frs 35.–
Open Access


Compelled to leave Bucharest in 1948, Ionel Schein (1927-2004) found political asylum in Paris, where his biography is entwined with that of some leading figures on the architectural scene of the time, such as Georges-Henri Pingusson, Le Corbusier, Jean Prouvé and Bruno Zevi, with whom he developed enduring relationships ranging from intellectual affiliation to professional collaboration. His projects are notable for a unified design embodying light prefabricated elements and a distribution system capable of evolving over time together with the needs of the inhabitants. This program would include futuristic prototypes, such as the first plastic house, a lightweight knockdown single-family residence, built entirely using synthetic materials in pop colours. This volume offers a reading of Schein’s work drawing directly on the architect’s archive, to date almost entirely unexplored.

Preface by Carlo Olmo. Afterword by Claude Parent.


Silvia Berselli

Ionel Schein. Dall’habitat evolutivo

all’architecture populaire

19 x 24,5 cm, 232 pp.

209 ill. b/w



Silvana Editoriale

ISBN 9788836631438

€ 29 / frs 29.–

«Hélène Binet’s photographs pose intriguing questions about the relations of the viewed subject and the artistic intention, entity and detail, space and atmosphere, materiality and illumination. … Buildings turn into landscapes, while landscapes become intimate tactile surfaces as if they were the aged leather of a living creature. Even air tends to take on characteristics of solid matter; the sky is no longer a void, as it projects a sense of gravity and opacity. Her images accentuate materiality, as if they were intended to be experienced through the skin rather than the eyes» (Juhani Pallasmaa).

Forty Eight Pages:

Hélène Binet

edited by

Daniela Mondini

14,5 × 19 cm, 68 pp.

22 ill. b/w, 1 ill. col.


english / italian

Silvana Editoriale


€ 10 / frs 12.–

«L’architecture est le jeu savant, correct et magnifique des volumes assemblés sous la

lumière». Alluding to Le Corbusier’s famous statement of 1923, this collection of essays solicits critical reflection on the relationship between light and architecture, on both theoretical and practical levels. Beginning with a discussion of the problem of how to represent light and its effects within architectural space in different media (drawing, photography, film), it then examines the relationship between planning and hygiene-theories, focusing in particular on those which exercised their influence on the choice of orientation and exposure of buildings to the sun. On the technological front, finally, attention is turned to projects making use of the various devices, and then new, for the modulation of natural light, as well as to the many possibilities offered to designers by new technologies of artificial illumination.


Texts by Katrin Albrecht, Charlotte Ashby, Marcel Bächtiger, Daniel A. Barber, Silvia Berselli, Matthias Brunner, Marco Di Nallo, Valeria Farinati, Ruth Hommelen, Margaret Maile Petty, Éric Monin, Dietrich Neumann, Mary Reid Brunstrom, Lutz Robbers, Giuliana Scuderi, Nathalie Simonnot, Daniel Siret, Marie Theres Stauffer, Simona Talenti, Annarita Teodosio.

«Le jeu savant»

Luce e oscurità nell’architettura

del XX secolo

Light and Darkness in 20th Century Architecture

edited by

Silvia Berselli

Matthias Brunner

Daniela Mondini

19 x 24.5 cm, 280 pp.
130 ill. b/w

italian, english, french

Silvana Editoriale
ISBN 9788836629817
€ 32 / frs 40.–


Light is the essential medium across which space, forms, and colors become perceivable to the human eye. This collection of studies investigates the use of light – natural and artificial – in Christian architecture and art from late antiquity to the Baroque, revealing its complex symbolism and the modes in which it comes to be enacted. Thus, the following are analyzed: the architectonic dispositions that regulate daylight, the material culture that produces artificial illumination, the understandings of and reflections on the effects of light and shadow observed in literary, theological, and philosophical texts, as well as works of art, be they illuminated manuscripts, mosaics, frescos, or stained glass windows.


Texts by Sergio Bettini, Anna Bülau, Elena Castelli De Angelis, Fabio Fernetti, Francesca Galli, Iuliana Gavril, Vladimir Ivanovici, Brigitte Kurmann-Schwarz, Frank Martin, Mira Mocan, Daniela Mondini, Bettina Preiswerk, Nicolas Reveyron, Barbara Schellewald, Nadine Schibille, Angela Schiffhauer, Sophie Schweinfurth, Xenia Stolzenburg.

Manipolare la luce in epoca premoderna

Manipulating Light in Premodern Times

edited by

Daniela Mondini

Vladimir Ivanovici

19 x 24.5 cm, 332 pp.
100 ill. col., 35 ill. b/w

italian, english, french, german

Silvana Editoriale
ISBN 9788836627219
€ 49 / frs 59.–


Pier Luigi Nervi (1891-1979), last century’s most famous Italian engineer, devised many of his architectural works by using sophisticated scale models which provided a preview of their stability. The result of elevated scientific knowledge and craft skills, these models accurately reflect Nervi’s ideas, always convinced of the necessary synthesis between engineering and architecture, science and art. The book is the result of lengthy historical archival research, enriched by a very full iconographic apparatus that reveals the exceptional nature of these “miniature masterpieces”.

Capolavori in miniatura.

Pier Luigi Nervi e la modellazione strutturale
Gabriele Neri

19 x 24.5 cm, 344 pp.

320 ill. b/w



Silvana Editoriale

ISBN 9788836627233

€ 32 / frs 40.–