and TEN

Books and


2–10 September

Programme Summary

In this intensive 8-day international summer school hosted by the IUAV University in Venice, our goal is to interrogate the relationship between the building and the book in architectural culture, with the aim of collectively constructing our own book in response to our findings: A Design Brief for a Library. This book will form the basis of a hands-on construction project to take place in the future years of our ongoing summer programme. This year, our research will begin by delving into the library as a space for the experimental production of new forms and arrangements of knowledge. We will examine the notion of architectural literacy, question and challenge traditional spatial definitions of the ‘library’ typology, and seek to better understand the close exchange between the building and the book in the history of architecture.

The workshop is directed as a collaboration between Professor Maarten Delbeke and the Chair for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta, D-ARCH, ETH Zurich); and TEN, an independent association of practising architects and researchers based in Zurich. We will cooperate with the IUAV University Library in Venice, working directly with their collection and operating at the intersection between history and the present, between architectural book making and architectural design.

Our Approach

Books and buildings act as fundamental repositories of architectural knowledge, each with their own pedagogical potential. Both have received varying degrees of focus throughout the history of architectural education. Yet since the early modern period, it has been books – not buildings – that have established primacy as the main transmitters of architectural ideas in wider culture. Positioning ourselves at the collision of two ubiquitous forms of architectural output, we practice a methodology of reading buildings through books, and books through buildings. By dissecting and reconstructing the intersections and tensions between these two mediums, this summer workshop seeks to understand whether buildings can again establish their own forms of literacy: Becoming once more the repositories and transmitters of culture, as accessible and understandable to everyone as the language of the printed page.

We are concerned with questions such as: How is knowledge made accessible in space? How do knowledge structures and spatial structures combine? How can books be structured as spaces in themselves? And how should a 21st century library be organised?

Tutors & Guests

The course will be taught by Maarten Delbeke and TEN, with the participation of invited guests for critiques and lectures. Guests include:


The school will take place at the IUAV University, Venice, with site visits to local libraries both ancient and modern, secluded and popular; local printers; and other locations of interest around the city.


The 'Brief for a Library' developed by the students will be compiled into an architectural book made collectively by all members of the student team. This will be the first volume in a series of books that will chronicle each year of our ongoing summer workshop, providing the basis of a construction project to be launched in the following years of the programme. The aim of this book volume is to re-establish a continuity with the historic practice of architectural treatise-writing, and to re-affirm the book as a legitimate working design tool and as part of a living, on-going tradition.

The form and content of the book will be developed out of the careful study of key published treatises from the history of architectural ideas. Visiting celebrated libraries in Venice, students will begin to collect knowledge from the canonical architectural books they find there, while at the same time interrogating the structural patterns of these publications in terms of type, technics and content. Through the process of analysing and re-editing the treatises they discover, students will then produce their Design Brief for the construction of a new library, to eventually house the books of their study. The brief should above all respond to the question: what is the architecture of a library today? This means that alongside the preservation of physical books, students must also begin to consider the 21st-century trend towards the mass-digitisation of knowledge in online platforms.

The Brief will be assessed at the conclusion of the workshop in a public exhibition and critique. It will then be compiled into a published volume.

We aim to

  1. Develop and apply design research methods to analyse and produce book/s with a focus on library typologies.
  2. Investigate the relationship between buildings and books in order to interpret a collective language of architecture.
  3. Re-work key treatises on architecture to demonstrate how written history can be harnessed as a model for contemporary architectural thinking and making.
  4. Offer new models of the library, as a space for the experimental production of new knowledge.
  5. Offer new models of integrating history and theory with architectural design in the teaching and building of architecture.
  6. Design a Brief for a new form of public library forming the basis for a future building project. Present the brief in the form of a collectively created architectural book.

Programme Details

The course schedule will consist of a series of visits to important Venetian libraries and other associated sites of relevance, complemented by an intensive workshop at the library of the IUAV University, in which architectural books from the collection will be analysed and reworked to create the new Library Brief. The resulting Brief will be reviewed in a live-printing event and critique, creating the basis for a potential building project beginning in the following year.

A detailed itinerary will be announced soon.


€380 per person. This fee covers accommodation, tuition and all excursions arranged by the organisers as part of the programme. The fee does not cover meals (apart from some communal dinner events), travel costs to and from Venice, or the cost of local transport around Venice for the duration of the workshop.

Students can claim 2 ECTS credits, or their home university equivalent, for their successful completion of the programme.

Language of Instruction

English. However some knowledge of German, Italian or French is beneficial.

Who can apply?

Students of art, architecture or history, worldwide. Application is via an online form and document upload (see below).

Students will be accepted based on a short cover letter of motivation, a portfolio (of either written research or design work) and a one-page CV. These documents should be combined into a single PDF of no more than ten pages and uploaded onto the website. No email applications will be accepted.

Deadline for applications HAS BEEN EXTENDED TO 29 JUNE 2018

Successful applicants will be notified no later than 6 July 2018.

About & Contact

TEN is a group of individuals made up of architectural historians, architects, designers, writers and makers from leading international research institutions based in Zurich, Switzerland. We come together outside the frame of our institutional research on a voluntary basis to develop interdependent and collaborative projects across the broad spectrum of cultural production, with a specific focus on self-initiated and non-profit design by research. Our research output includes public events, teaching programs resulting in publications and exhibitions, and a socially engaged architecture and design practice encompassing both theory and making. We strive as a collective to connect architectural research, pedagogy and public engagement. TEN has recently been nominated as a finalist in the architecture category for the Swiss Art Award of 2018.

The Maarten Delbeke Chair for the History and Theory of Architecture, gta, D-ARCH, ETH Zurich, is responsible for teaching and research in the history and theory of art and architecture before ca. 1850, in close consultation with the other Chairs of the gta. More in particular, we examine and test the relevance of this history in the context of a Department of Architecture, not with the aim of sustaining a narrowly defined operative view of history, nor of understanding the present merely as the result of a long history, but of complicating the understanding of architecture and its meaning, agency and legitimacy by means of an intricate reading of its past. Historical architecture inspires enthusiasm about the built environment precisely when historical distance is at once recognized and overcome in the close encounter with the various artefacts that populate our present or were present in our past. Given the multi-faceted relationship of buildings with time and history, an engagement with historical architecture seems indispensable to develop a balanced reading of the built environment, to grasp the formal and material elements that constitute architecture, and to grasp what constitutes the very domain of architecture.

For further enquiries please contact us.


Re:public 2018 Feed

Nemanja Zimonjic

Jul 07, 2018

Richard Macksey Library, An Ideal Library from St Gallen Kloster, Underneath NY Public Library

Richard Macksey Library
St Gallen Library Brief For Republic
Underneath The New York Public Library

Début Début

May 10, 2018

Stills from Alain Resnais, "Toute la mémoire du monde", 1956

Alain Resnais Fillmstill 1
Alain Resnais Fillmstill 2
Alain Resnais Fillmstill 3
Alain Resnais Fillmstill 4