Gabriele Bryant – The Matter of Time: On the Alchemy of History in Modern Architecture

Join us for The Living Memory of Cities, a seminar series convened in collaboration with Eric Parry Architects and the Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE), London Metropolitan University.

The Matter of Time: On the Alchemy of History in Modern Architecture

The question of how to address individual and collective memory in modern architecture without succumbing to historicist or post-modern formal referencing is central to the work of some of the most prominent modern architects, both in individual building projects and the wider urban context. Looking at the work of Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, especially his Kolumba Museum in Cologne (1997-2007), this presentation explores the "materiality of memory" and the way in which our history can be found embodied in modern culture.

As Zumthor writes in Architektur Denken: “The reality of architecture lies in its concreteness, its form, mass, space, and body. There is no idea, except in the things themselves”. The museum as memory palace, its place in modern culture and the urban context as well as the specific role ascribed by Peter Zumthor to "atmospheres" in architecture and what he calls "the magic of the real" will be addressed in terms of their potential contribution to "the living memory of cities". And whilst the Kolumba Museum can be seen as representative of many aspects of modern museum culture, it is also unique in the way it responds to its setting, the physicality and spirit of its place, and the way it integrates the ruined remains of the city's past, the fragments of its history, and the traditions and artistic heritage of its own discipline as well as European culture, into a modern secular-sacred Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art).

Gabriele Bryant is a German architectural historian with an MPhil and PhD Degree in History and Philosophy of Architecture from the University of Cambridge. She has worked as a lecturer and researcher at the University of the Arts in Berlin, the Central European University in Prague, and the University of Oxford. Her main area of interest is the history of architecture, art, and ideas in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and she has lectured and published widely on the idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk and modern German architecture.


Black and white portrait of Gabriele Bryant taking the half right side of the picture


Date/time Online: Wednesday 19 January 2022, 5pm to 6.30pm
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