Sigfried Giedion

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Sigfried Giedion (partly also written Siegfried ; born April 14, 1888 in Prague ; † April 9, 1968 in Zurich ; entitled to live in Lengnau ) was a Swiss architectural historian.


Sigfried Giedion was the son of a weaving manufacturer from Lake Zug. He first studied mechanical engineering in Vienna. Apparently because he did not want to join his parents' business, he wrote poems and plays, one of which was performed by Max Reinhardt at the Kammerspiele. He heard art history from Heinrich Wölfflin , with whom he received his doctorate in 1922 on late baroque and romantic classicism . Because of this work AE Brinckmann wanted to bring him to Cologne, but he refused to go into the academic field. In 1923 he visited the Bauhaus and met Walter Gropius there . Since this encounter he has increasingly dealt professionally with the Bauhaus and its protagonists and has himself become a pioneer of modernity .

In 1928, together with Le Corbusier and Hélène de Mandrot, he co- initiated the founding of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM), of which he became the first general secretary. In the same year he got involved in the initiative group for the Werkbundsiedlung Neubühl , of which he was a member of the board until 1939. He was also involved as the builder of the Doldertal houses , which he wanted to make a manifesto of New Building in Switzerland, and as the founder of Wohnbedarf AG - as in countless publications in international specialist journals, the prelude of which was his commitment to Le Corbusier's design for the League of Nations building in Geneva was 1927.

Sigfried Giedion: Building in France (1930). Dust jacket by László Moholy-Nagy

His publication Building in France, Building in Iron, Building in Reinforced Concrete with a cover by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy had an enormous influence on the way modern architects view their own history. In addition, the work was quoted extensively by the philosopher Walter Benjamin in his passage work .

1938/39 Giedion taught at Harvard University . His Charles Eliot Norton Lectures there found their expression in 1941 in his main work, the standard history of modern architecture, Space, Time and Architecture (Eng. Space, Time, Architecture ). In 1946 he received his first teaching position at the ETH Zurich . He taught in the following period until the 1960s, alternating between Switzerland and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States. During this time he wrote in regular succession as editor at CIAM or in sole authorship his findings of the second modernity, such as the culturally pessimistic Mechanization Takes Command of 1948 (Eng. The rule of mechanization ). In 1966 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .

Giedion was married to the art historian Carola Giedion-Welcker .


  • Late baroque and romantic classicism. Bruckmann, Munich 1922.
  • Building in France, building in iron, building in reinforced concrete. Klinkhardt & Biermann, Leipzig 1928; Reprint: Gebr. Mann, Berlin 2000.
  • Liberated living. Show books . Orell Füssli, Zurich 1929.
  • Space, Time and Architecture. The Growth of a New Tradition. Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1941; German: space, time, architecture. The emergence of a new tradition. Maier, Ravensburg 1965; last: 6th, unchanged reprint. Birkhäuser, Basel 2007, ISBN 978-3-7643-5407-7 .
  • Mechanization Takes Command. A Contribution to Anonymous History. Oxford University Press, New York 1948; German: The rule of mechanization. A contribution to anonymous history. European Publishing House, Frankfurt am Main 1982, ISBN 978-3-43400711-1 , 843 pp.
  • Architecture and community. Diary of a development. Rowohlt, Hamburg 1956.
  • Le Corbusier and the architectural means of expression of that time. In: Le Corbusier - architecture, painting, sculpture, tapestries. House of German Crafts , Frankfurt am Main, June 26 to August 7, 1958. House of German Crafts, Frankfurt am Main 1958.
  • The Eternal Present. A Contribution on Constancy and Change. 2 volumes. Oxford University Press, London 1962/1963; German: Eternal Presence. A contribution to Konstanz u. Change. 2 volumes. DuMont Schauberg, Cologne 1964/1965.
  • Architecture and the phenomenon of change. The 3 spatial concepts in architecture. Wasmuth, Tübingen 1969.


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