Inaugural Lecture - Prof. Alfredo Thiermann / ENAC


Event details

Date 13.06.2023
Hour 17:1518:40
Speaker Prof. Alfredo Thiermann
Location Online
Category Inaugural lectures - Honorary Lecture
Event Language English
Date: 13 June 2023
Time: 17:15 – 18:40
Introductions by the Dean, lectures by Prof. Pier Vittorio Aureli and Prof. Alfredo Thiermann. Followed by an Apero.
Place: CO 2
Zoom link

Inhabiting Technical Media

Jorge Luis Borges’s story “On Rigor in Science” imagines a science of cartography so exact that only a map equal in size to the mapped territory itself is sufficient to describe it. Today, even such a fictional degree of resolution has fallen short. Large amounts of continuously harvested and disseminated digital data have penetrated almost every aspect of our daily lives, and we can hardly imagine ourselves outside of this new media ecology. This lecture will examine the spatial and architectural implications of this broader and entangled political, technological, and cultural transformation. As Borges’s story pointedly reminds us, we do not simply use technical media, we inhabit them, and therefore they should be a central preoccupation for architecture. 

Looking for the presence of the past in the present, in this lecture, I will visit seven episodes—from the Acheulean industry, passing through broadcasting houses, and culminating in server farms—that illustrate how architecture has closely interacted with both analogue and digital technical media. Tracing the agency and relevance of buildings within seemingly immaterial phenomena, I will discuss how, in a longue durée, forms of recording, storing, and transmitting information have modified the natural and built environment. Anything but immaterial and far from being new, such processes are inevitably grounded in matter, producing specific kinds of buildings, constructing and modifying cities, and even transforming the planet at a geographical scale. With observational distance, this lecture will reconstruct this entangled condition discussing the technical, political, environmental—and therefore architectural—challenges and opportunities inherent to the so-called digital turn.

About the speaker
Alfredo Thiermann is an architect and Assistant Professor for History and Theory of Architecture at the École polytechnique fédérale in Lausanne. Through his practice and theoretical research, he explores the intersection between architecture and different media, from sound installations and film scenography to single-family houses, public buildings, and large-scale infrastructures. He has taught and lectured at Harvard University, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, and other institutions. Alfredo’s work has been published in A+U, Revista ARQ, TRACE magazine, Zeppelin, Potlatch, Real Review, Thresholds, Archithese, gta Papers, and BauNetz. It has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Santiago, the Istanbul Design Biennial, gta exhibitions in Zurich, and the Venice Art Biennale, among other institutions. He received the Rome Prize awarded by the German Academy in Rome.

Alfredo studied architecture, receiving his professional degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica in Chile and a Masters's degree from Princeton University. He received his doctoral degree from the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) in Zurich. He has been a fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal, and the Collegium Helveticum in Zurich. He is the author of the forthcoming book titled Radio-Activities: Architecture and Broadcasting in Cold War Berlin. He lives, works, and takes care of Pedro Tristán and Juan Nataniel between Lausanne and Berlin.


Practical information

  • Informed public
  • Registration required


  • SAR - Gesualdo Casciana

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