Doing Research on Women Architects – Problems and Potentials: Flora Ruchat-Roncati at ETH

Organizer: Visiting Lectureship of the Theory of Architecture Dr. Torsten Lange
Date: Monday, 27 November 2017
Time: 10.00 to 11.00
Location: HIL H 40.9 (Foyer), ETH Zurich, Hönggerberg

“So wie das Kompositkapitell einer tuskanischen Säule ist meine Dimension vielteilig, zerschnitten, wie zerschnitten und vielteilig diejenige der privilegierten Frauen ist. Frauen, die auf nichts verzichten, nicht einmal auf Ausdrucksräume, die allerdings Kompromisse akzeptieren und sich in die Lücken hineinfügen, unruhig bleiben und wie Chamäleons die Farben zu ändern lernen, um sich den lokalen Talebanen entziehen zu können.”
(Flora Ruchat-Roncati, opening speech at the exhibition of her work at the Institute for History and Theory of Architecture at ETH Zürich in December 1997)

Doing research on women architects is often a challenging task, not least for pragmatic reasons such as a lack of documentation. It also requires a careful choice and development of method. In this talk, we will introduce our ongoing SNF-funded research-project “Flora Ruchat-Roncati at ETH 1985–2002. Professor, Planner, Theoretician” and share some first outcomes. In particular we aim to address the use of different techniques to identify new sources through biography, career-telling, life-cycle approach, and oral history, in order to gain deeper insights. Starting from the gaps in Flora Ruchat-Roncati’s professional curriculum, we apply these more recent tools of historical research in combination with traditional instruments like the architectural archive. Our presentation asks about potentials and pitfalls of combining new and established methods.


Dr. Torsten Lange
Dr. Gabrielle Schaad