Marianna Charitonidou

Dr. Marianna Charitonidou



Contact Data
ORCID: 0000-0003-1083-4861


ETH Zürich
Marianna Charitonidou
Geschichte u.Theorie d. Städtebaus
HIL  D 75.1
Stefano-Franscini-Platz 5
8093 Zürich

Organisations Lecturer at the Department of Architecture
Research Field

The Travelling Architect’s Eye: Photography and Automobile Vision (Postdoctoral Project)

Marianna Charitonidou's postdoctoral research project aims to investigate the status of the photographs that architects take during their travels by car.It is based on the hypothesis that the view from the car has established a new epistemology of the urban landscape and the territory at large. Focusing on the views from the car produced by the architects under study will help us to better understand how this epistemological shift influenced architectural thinking and practice. The automobile, since its invention, has reshaped our conceptions of space, revolutionizing the way architects perceive the city and contributing significantly to the transformation of the relationship between architecture and the city. One must not forget the importance of the car itself: indeed, no other factor changed the city so drastically during the twentieth century as the pervasive presence of the automobile, which had a very important impact not only on the ways one accesses the city, but also on the city's own relation to its territory. The project will focus on the close examination of photographs taken by architects John Lautner (1911 – 1994), Alison and Peter Smithson (1928 – 1993 & 1923 – 2003) and Aldo Rossi (1931 – 1997), which will contribute to a broader understanding of the process of viewing and photographing scenes from the car, and of its elaboration of a “snapshot aesthetics” to capture contemporary urban life in its ordinariness and banality. A point of convergence between these architects’ approach is the attention they paid to the role played by automobile transport in the reorientation of how we perceive urban landscapes and territories. This project is based upon the conviction that a development of taxonomies of the photographs of these architects, according to scenography and subject matter, for instance, would permit to discern patterns in their approach to urban design, as well as in their conceptions of urban fabric. In parallel, it would help us comprehend how they categorized the elements of the landscapes that captured their attention.

The View from the Car: Autopia as a New Perceptual Regime (Exhibition Project)

The exhibition aims to render explicit the impact of the car on the the way we perceive architecture and the city. The view from the car changed architecture fundamentally. Despite the fact that the visions around the automobile has been fundamental to western culture, especially during the modernist and postmodernist era, nowadays, within the context of the debates around the sustainable future of cities, its role is questioned or at least transformed. This makes the questions addressed through the exhibition even more topical given that the current situation could be characterized as a turning point in regards how we perceive the “car”. Through the visual juxtaposition of photographs taken throughout the 20th century from the car while travelling or in relation to the car, it provides an overview of the role of car-based photography in the reinvention of architectural and urban design strategies. Through the display of photographs taken by architects such as Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi, Alison and Peter Smithson, Sigfried Giedion, Heinrich Helfenstein, Erling Mandelmann, and André Muelhaupt-Buehler among other, the exhibition presents how the perception of urban and non-urban landscapes from the car triggered new representational regimes. Apart from photographs, the exhibition also includes diagrams and drawings that aimed to address the role of automobile for our understanding of architectural and urban artefacts. 

Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Dr. Ir. Marianna Charitonidou is a Lecturer and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Chair for the History and Theory of Urban Design Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) ETH Zürich, where she works on her project entitled “The Travelling Architect's Eye: Photography and the Automobile Vision”. This research project investigates the status of the photographs that architects take during their travels by car. It is based on the hypothesis that the view from the car has established a new epistemology of the urban landscape and the territory at large. Focusing on the views from the car produced by John Lautner, Alison and Peter Smithson and Aldo Rossi, it examines how the epistemological shift related to automobile vision influenced architectural thinking and practice. In parallel, Dr. Charitonidou is curating an exhibition project entitled “The View from the Car: Autopia as a New Perceptual Regime” to be displayed at the Department of Architecture of ETH Zürich based on the hypothesis that, through the visual juxtaposition of various photographs taken by several important architects of the 20th and 21st century from the car while travelling, the exhibition will make aware people about the impact of the car on the way we perceive the city. Currently, she is a co-lecturer for the courses “Fundamentals of the History and Theory of Architecture I” (Fall Semester) and “Fundamentals of the History and Theory of Architecture II” (Spring Semester). Dr. Ir. Charitonidou has taught in various schools in Europe – especially in Paris and Greece. She was an Adjunct Lecturer in History and Theory of Architecture at the Department of Architecture of the University of Ioannina, the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens, the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais. École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-la-Villette and the École Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Versailles. She is also conducting a postdoctoral project entitled “The Fictional Addressee of Architecture as a Device for Exploring Post-colonial Culture: The Transformations of the Helleno-centric Approaches" at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens and a postdoctoral project entitled “Constantinos A. Doxiadis and Adriano Olivetti’s Post-war Reconstruction Agendas in Greece and in Italy: Centralising and Decentralising Political Apparatus” at the Department of Art Theory and History of Athens School of Fine Arts. 

In September 2018, she was awarded a Doctoral Degree all'unanimità from the National Technical University of Athens. Her PhD dissertation "The Relationship between Interpretation and Elaboration of Architectural Form: Investigating the Mutations of Architecture's Scope", which she is currently editing into a book, examined the mutations of the modes of representation in contemporary architecture in relation to the transformation of the status of the addressee of architecture. After having benefited from an Erasmus Scholarship for her studies in the Master’s program of the École Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris-Malaquais (2007-2008), she obtained a Master in Architectural Engineering at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (2010), a Master in Sustainable Environmental Design at the Architectural Association in London (2011) (MSc Dissertation Project: "Sustainable Housing Design in Mykonos: Vernacular vs. Contemporary"), and a MPhil in History and Theory of Architecture (Inter-Departmental Postgraduate Program "Design - Space - Culture") at the School of Architecture of the National Technical University of Athens (2013). In 2010, Marianna Charitonidou founded the practice THINK THROUGH DESIGN. She is a registered Architect Engineer at the Technical Chamber of Greece since October 2010. She was awarded Research Grants from the Getty Research Institute, the Académie Française, the Cité Universitaire Internationale de Paris, the State Scholarships Foundation (IKY), the Université Paris Nanterre, and Leventis Foundation. In parallel, she was a Visiting Research Scholar at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (invited by Prof. Bernard Tschumi, 2016-2017 & 2017-2018) and the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University (invited by Prof. Jean-Louis Cohen, 2014-2015 & 2016-2017), the École française de Rome (2016-2017 & 2017-2018), and resident at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) for her project "The modes of representation of Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, Aldo Rossi and Bernard Tschumi: the ‘observer’ vis-à-vis the strategies of de-codification” (Doctoral Students Grant Program 2018). She has presented her research at many international conferences (more than 50) and has published several articles in scientific peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes focused on architectural theory and history. Among her publications are: Among her publications are: "The Immediacy of Urban Reality in Postwar Italy: Between Neorealism and Tendenza’s Instrumentalization of Ugliness", in Architecture and Ugliness: Anti-Aesthetics and the Ugly in Postmodern Architecture (eds. Wouter Van Acker, Thomas Mical, Bloomsbury Press, 2020), "Music as a Reservoir of Thought’s Materialization: Between ‘Metastasis’ and ‘Modulor’", in Aberrant Nuptials: Deleuze and Artistic Research 2 (eds. Paulo de Assis, Paolo Giudici, Leuven University Press, 2019), "Le récit autobiographique d’Aldo Rossi: Introspection ou rétrospection?", in L'Homme & la Société 208 (2018), "Between Urban Renewal and Nuova Dimensione: The 68 Effects vis-à-vis the Real", in Histories of Postwar Architecture 2 (2018), "Archives of Architecture Museums: The Effects of Digitisation", in OASE 99 (2017), "Réinventer la posture historique : les débats théoriques à propos de la comparaison et des transferts", in Espaces et Sociétés 167 (2016), "L’AUA entre le Team 10 et le postmodernisme", in Une architecture de l’engagement: l’AUA 1960-1985 (eds. Jean-Louis Cohen, Vanessa Grossman, La Découverte/Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine, 2015). She will be the editor of the theme issue “Writing Automobile Histories” (volume 31, no. 1) of Fabrications: The Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand.

Curriculum Vitae (CV) as PDFDownload
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February 2021
Recipient of Bruno Zevi Prize
13. July 2020
Honourable mention by the Fondazione Zevi for my essay “Simultaneously Space and Event: Bernard Tschumi’s Conception of Architecture”
Collection Research Grant, Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles, CA
Collection Research Grant, Académie Française
Publications inResearch Collection – Publication platform of ETH Zurich
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