7th International Conference on the History of Architecture

The city is like a big house …
The façade as an urban narrative and decoration

Santiago de Compostela, Faculty of Geography and History (Main Hall) and Faculty of Philosophy (Auditorium)
19, 20, 21 and 22 February 2019

The 7th International Conference on the History of Architecture, a joint project of the universities of Porto and Santiago de Compostela, will be held in February 2019 at the Faculty of Geography and History of the University of Santiago de Compostela.

A central theme was chosen for each of the conferences to promote a historical, artistic and heritage reflection and to help understand the relations between society, the individual, the city and the built objects. Given the relevance of the theme and its complex analysis, the chosen object of study for this conference is the façade.

The objectives of this 7th International Conference are the same as those of the six previous editions at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto. The appreciation of the study and research are essential for the dissemination of the architectural heritage and for the preservation and protection of the built objects. Moreover, understanding and teaching the meaning of architecture is essential to its preservation.

With the support of CITCEM – Centro de Investigação Transdisciplinar Cultura, Espaço, Memória and of the Research Group Iacobus – Projectos y Estudios sobre Património Cultural, our aim is to feed on the good practice of relations between researchers and students of Portuguese, Italian and Spanish universities with the purpose of analysing the role of architectural façades in our cities.

Under the general title La cita è come una grande casa…, a phrase taken from the text De re aedeficatoria by León Battista Alberti, we propose to address the study of the façade as a unique phenomenon of architecture and of the city. This ever-present theme in the history of architecture has become an essential object of architects, urban planners and citizens.

There will be a broad discussion of the forms and functions of the façade, regarded as a unique element of architecture and of the building, or as a key element of the urban environment in which every building stands.

We will provide for the possibility of analysing and studying cases in which the façade, once the construction principles have been overcome, have been transformed into an imagery element in gardens, altarpieces or books. In addition to exploring the core values of the function of the façade, we aim to also explore other symbolic values brought by architects and patrons to building façades, which have transformed them into clear manifestos of the principles and desires that feed them, turning them into visual and referential landmarks for those who inhabit the city. The current society that maintains a particularly close relationship with the visual has removed the façade from the built contexts and turned them into an iconic and publicity product.

Following the teachings of Alberti, “the city is like a big house, and the dwelling is a small city”, and the building façades also play the role of ‘neighbour’. They are important spaces in the daily relations for those who live the city. They are places of memory and of the identity of the “House”.