Geschichte und Theorie der Landschaft / History and Theory of Landscapes

Karin Raith
Architecture, Building Construction
2018S, Vorlesungen (VO), 4.0 semester hours, course number S01527


The course deals with the phenomenon of landscape and in particular with the forces behind the visual appearance of individual landscapes. What exactly is “landscape”? How do landscapes evolve? Why do certain cultural landscapes have certain characteristics - or in other words, why do they look the way they look? What natural conditions are they based on and what economic, social and political circumstances and developments have shaped them? These and other questions are intended to draw attention to processes that cause and drive the change of cultural landscapes.

The aspect of intentionality is particularly interesting: Landscapes are created on the one hand as "by-products" of cultivating or exploiting territories for the needs of human existence, on the other hand they are deliberately designed as works of art and communication media.

The course focuses on a cultural history of European landscapes (with digressions to the history and theory of non-European landscapes). It offers both a general overview and a basis for further in-depth studies in this field of research. Using significant examples, selected periods of the distant and recent past and present are described and analysed. In this way, different attitudes and approaches to the environment (as space and “raw material” for the creation of habitats) are identified. Interactions between socio-economic, political and technical developments and the transformation of landscapes are pointed out selectively and connections between scientific achievements, landscape and garden art and the other arts of the respective epochs are discussed. Special attention is paid to the transformation of spaces through building and the relationship between architecture and landscape.

Theories of space and landscape are embedded in these considerations: Together with the history of the selected landscapes, the approaches, i. e. various theoretical frameworks and perspectives, are also reflected upon.

Examination Modalities

The exam consists of 2 parts:
1) A landscape area or a place is to be analysed with methods and under aspects which were discussed in the lecture (group work). The analysis is presented in class.
2) A short written exam about the course contents.


The cultural history of European landscapes was supplemented in the past semesters by the following special topics:

Special places: Biographies of particular landscapes and the question of difference in the age of global information flows. (W2003)
Natürlich künstlich! Aspects of progressive dissolution of the boundaries between nature and artifact. (S2004)
National parks. (S2005)
Expansion_Contraction_Transformation: On the problem of suburbanisation, urban exodus and shrinking cities. (W2006)
Reuse_restore_reshape: Controversies and developments in dealing with historical buildings and landscapes. (S2007)
The geometry of water: Landscape, architecture and garden art in Islamic culture. (S2014)
Precarious landscapes. (W2015)
Landscapes of modernism. (S2016)


08 March 2018, 10:00–12:00 Seminar Room Site-Specific Art and Sculpture and Space (preliminary discussion)
12 March 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
19 March 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
09 April 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
16 April 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
23 April 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
30 April 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
07 May 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
14 May 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
28 May 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
04 June 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
11 June 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14
18 June 2018, 10:15–13:30 Seminar Room 14

Course Enrolment

via email:

Architecture (Master): Theory of Living Spaces (4.0 ECTS)

Fine Arts (2. Section): Media Theory,Art&Knowledge Transfer,Th. of Architecture,Th. and Hist. of Design (4.0 ECTS)

co-registration: possible (4.0 ECTS)

Individual courses: possible (4.0 ECTS)