Resemblance: Processes and Forms

Mimetic Practices in Recent Architecture

Einsiedeln, Switzerland, Werner Oechslin Library Foundation, 17 – 19 March 2016
Deadline: 01 Oct 2015

Conference organised by the subproject “Mimetic Practices in Recent Architecture” of the DFG research group „Media and Mimesis“ In cooperation with Werner Oechslin Library Foundation

Prof. Dr. Hans-Rudolf Meier; Dr. Eva von Engelberg, Bauhaus-University Weimar
Prof. Dr. Carsten Ruhl; Frederike Lausch, M. Sc., Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main
Prof. Dr. Markus Krajewski, University Basel

Mimetic techniques and practices are found throughout architecture and its discourses. Vitruvius himself explained the emergence of architecture as a mimetic process. Later, the Vitruvianism of the 15th to 18th centuries witnessed broad development of mimetic concepts, in which as a rule the imitation of nature took place as an appropriation of models from antiquity. Recourse to models found in nature is to this day a preferred strategy among architects when called upon to explain their own design processes.

While practices of allusion, copying, and montage, of the remake as of mimicry, are all common aspects of today’s architectural scene, originality remains the dominant evaluative paradigm to the extent that it obscures our awareness of the mimetic phenomena. This despite the fact that, where ideas of resemantization and identity construction are ascendant, phenomena such as reconstructions, copies, or new construction in historicizing forms are everywhere to be found. Moreover, it has all but escaped mention that the way architectural imitatio naturae are understood has shifted since the 18th and 19th centuries from a focus on motifs to one on processes. If instead of existing objects (natura naturata) algorithms themselves (cultura culturans) serve as models and determinants, then what is the design process referring to? In this light, it is symptomatic of more recent western architecture that it expands the classical spectrum of analogy types to include concepts such as natural history, morphing, folding, and autopoiesis. The concepts of architectural mimesis thereby described could be assigned their place on a greater horizon under the following headings: Anthropometry and Vitruvianism, the rejection of mimesis and the crisis of representation, algorithm or parametric design, history of architecture as natural history, or the imitation of technology and the technologies of imitation.

The conference arises from the awareness of these historically overlapping paradigms to investigate mimetic strategies in both the theory and practice of architecture in the 20th and 21st century. The spectrum extends from reconstructions or historicised new buildings and the integration of spolia to the imitation of natural processes of change or the interpretation of an architectural body as a cybernetic organism.

The conference is conceived as a focused workshop aiming to an intensive exchange. Requested are lecture proposals which address the mentioned as well as other mimetic strategies in recent architecture. Lectures can be held in German or English; the conference language is German. A publication of the contributions is projected.

Please send abstracts in German or English (approx. 2.500 characters) for a 30 minute lecture and brief biographical notes to the organising team by 01 Oct 2015.
Email for abstracts:

Reference / Quellennachweis:
CFP: Ähnlichkeit: Prozesse und Formen (Einsiedeln, 17.-19. Mar 16). In: 
H-ArtHist, Jul 15, 2015. <>.