Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture

Istituto di storia e teoria dell'arte e dell'architettura, USI

The Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture (ISA), recently founded at the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, is by and large inspired by similar institutions such as History, Theory and Criticism of Architecture and Art (HTC) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Boston or the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture (gta) at the Federal Polytechnic of Zurich, both of them still operative after decades of successful activity.

The various disciplines represented at the Institute for the History and Theory of Art and Architecture – among them the history of art and architecture, philosophy or political thought or film and photographic studies (to cite but a few of the feasible options) – attempt to develop and implement open disciplinary concepts and tools in order to improve our understanding of the physical and social context of artistic and architectural design and production. Without limiting any of the potential fields of research to a specific period or geographical area in particular, it is one of the important aims of the institute to work towards a better comprehension of the complex processes in artistic and architectural creation. At the same time the institute wishes to encourage the exchange with and increasing integration of the historical and theoretical disciplines into the didactic life and the design process at the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture. 
Amongst the key activities of the institute feature the coordination at Bachelor’s and Masters’ level of all the theoretical disciplines and the history of art and architecture in particular, the development and supervision of research projects, with a special emphasis on doctoral studies which will eventually lead to the PhD (Dr. phil.); the organization of thematic lectures, lecture cycles and conferences, all designed to further enrich the intellectual life of the Academy and other institutes within the Università della Svizzera italiana; the institution of an endowed guest professorship for the duration of two semesters, the so-called Cattedra Borromini, intended for established representatives of their respective disciplines; furthermore the creation of a platform for competitive research; and last but not least the publication of monographs and collective volumes on any related question.
These various activities and initiatives will render the institute a precious instrument for integrating research and teaching in history and theory as vital components of contemporary architectural culture and its transmission to wider audiences.


Board Assistants, Scientific collaborators, ​Phd students Lectures  
  • Prof. Dr. Christoph Frank
  • Prof. Dr. Sonja Hildebrand
  • Prof. Dr. Carla Mazzarelli
  • Prof. Dr. Daniela Mondini
  • Prof. Dr. Sascha Roesler
  • Anna Bernardi
  • Elena Chestnova
  • Federica Chiappetta
  • Marco Di Nallo
  • Irina Emelianova
  • Elena Gargaglia
  • Lorenzo Gatta
  • Raphael Germann
  • Michael Gnehm
  • Frida Grahn
  • Almuth Klein
  • Bénédicte Maronnie
  • Bernhard Metz
  • Mirko Moizi
  • Lucia Pennati
  • Giorgia Pollio-Rossi
  • Julian Raffetseder
  • Dieter Weidmann
  • Angela Windholz
  • Sergio Bettini
  • Tobia Bezzola
  • André Bideau
  • Peter Fornaro
  • Vladimir Ivanovici
  • Pavel Kuznetsov
  • Simona Martinoli
  • Gabriele Neri
  • Bruno Pedretti
  • Vega Tescari

With the establishment of the Cattedra Borromini, an annual high-level teaching post in the field of the humanities, assigned every two years, the University of Italian Switzerland, the Academy of Architecture and its Institute of History and Theory of Art and Architecture seek to emphasise their commitment to the human sciences, understood in the fullest sense, and support for the integrating role that they have always played in artistic and architectural creation. The Cattedra Borromini usually schedules two cycles of university lectures at the MSc level and a series of public lectures on a specific topic, the Borromini Lectures.

Go the Cattedra page