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The “degree zero of architectural writing” in Bruno Zevi’s historiographical and critical work: overcoming the antagonism between “high” and “low” architecture.

Units : hortence | ULB736

Description :

From the 1960s to the 1980s on an international scale, architects studied the recent developments in the field of semiology to
seek a way out of the  crisis of modern architecture. Bruno Zevi (1918-2000), a leading 20th century Italian architect, historian and
critic, proclaimed that the search for a "zero degree of architectural writing" was the only way for architects to
overcome this ideological and stylistic impasse. He continued to defend this idea from 1973 to 1997 and borrowed the theory of the
degré zéro de l’écriture, also known as "neutral" or "white" writing, from Roland Barthes, a French
philosopher and semiologist, who had a major influence throughout the intellectual world during this time. This new form of writing, as
envisioned by Roland Barthes, was to be devoid of all external meaning, free of the weight of language and style, and to have the
ability to transcend the conflicts embedded in the history of language between popular and literary language. 
Based on the work of
Bruno Zevi, this project aims to investigate the ways in which the notion of a "degree zero" of writing influenced the
historiography of modern and postmodern architecture. It will address a gap in the existing literature on the last three decades
of Zevi’s career which have  received very little attention in comparison to his early work. Of central importance in this phase
of his career was his  argument for a "degree zero" in architecture - understood as an architecture free of all dogmas
and questioning the status quo -  in response to the important debate on the conflict between high and low architecture in the
second half of the twentieth century.
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List of persons in charge :


  • VAN ACKER Wouter

List of lessors :

  • F.R.S.-FNRS et Fonds associés (hors FRIA)