International Symposium
December 6-7, 2021
Scientific Committee: Roberto Zancan, Javier Fernández Contreras, Vera Sacchetti, Youri Kravtchenko
HEAD — Genève, Geneva

For centuries, architectural theory, discourse, and agency have been rooted in day and solar paradigms. References to the night in Vitruvius’ De architectura, largely considered the founding text of Western architectural theory, are residual, and a similar scarcity can be identified in the Renaissance treatises by Leon Battista Alberti or Andrea Palladio. It was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that the successive invention and institutionalization of electric lighting in private and public spaces gradually transformed the role of the night in the architectural discipline.

By analyzing and studying "night scenes," the international symposium Nocturnal History of Architecture aims to reveal neglected areas of scholarship and provide a laboratory for the development of alternative forms of architectural historiography. It traces a path from ancient to early modern times and from modernity to the present, using the nocturnal spaces that have shaped current notions of architecture to question those same concepts. Over the course of four sessions, the symposium will generate productive frictions and offer opportunities to expand our understanding of what architecture at night was like across a wide range of historical periods and what it can be in the near future.

Download program

Javier Fernández Contreras, HEAD – Genève
Welcome Address and Conference Kick-off
Link to video

Vera Sacchetti, Youri Kravtchenko, Roberto Zancan, HEAD – Genève
Theoretical Overview
Link to video

Efrosyni Boutsikas, Interdisciplinary Centre for Spatial Studies, University of Kent
Through the Gates of Darkness: Discovering the Nocturnal Power of Ancient Greek Religious Architecture
Link to video

Alexandra Sumorok, Akademia Sztuk Pięknych Łodz
Toward Happiness and Emotions: The Role of Light in Socialist Realist Interiors in Poland (1949–1956)
Link to video

Maarten Delbeke, ETH Zürich
Chasing Darkness: Night and Shadow in the Ephemeral Apparati of Baroque Rome
Link to video

Léa-Catherine Szacka, University of Manchester
The Space of MTV: From Inner-city Clubbing to Basement Suburbia

Lucía Jalón Oyarzun, EPFL, Lausanne
Our Encryption is the Real World: Clandestinity as a Form of Minor Architecture
Link to video

Sébastien Grosset, HEAD – Genève
L’origine obscure : Esquisse d’une histoire de l’habitat à l’ombre de l’architecture

Muriel Hladik, RWTH-Aachen University
A Fascination for the Moon in Japanese Aesthetics and Architecture
Link to video

Carlotta Darò, Yan Rocher, École Nationale Superieur d’Architecture – Malaquais, Paris
“Illusion is the thing”: Simulating Night at the Atmospheric Cinema
Link to video

Nick Dunn, Imagination Research Lab, Lancaster University
Nocturnal Spaces: Rediscovering an Architecture of Darkness
Link to video

Hilary Orange, Swansea University
Using Artificial Light to Shape Industrial Landscape: A Nocturnal View of the Ruhrgebiet
Link to video

Javier Fernández Contreras, Youri Kravtchenko, Manon Portera, HEAD – Genève
Presentation of the Research Project and Book Scènes de Nuit.
Link to video

Scientific Committee:  Roberto Zancan, Javier Fernández Contreras, Vera Sacchetti, Youri Kravtchenko
Organization: Department of Interior Architecture, HEAD — Genève
Valentina De Luigi, Valentin Dubois, Inès Salih
With the financial support of:  The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF)