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Announcing the university: the use of ornament in the Ghent Aula Academica

Pieter-Jan Cierkens UGent (2016) Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts.
abstract
Constructed between 1819 and 1826 by Ghent city architect, Louis Roelandt (1786-1864), the Ghent Aula Academica was immediately recognised as an example of tasteful, neoclassical architecture. The university complex was quickly included in the canon of Belgian nineteenth-century architectural historiography, and has since been thoroughly documented in historical literature. However, from an architectural perspective, the focus has been primarily on describing the lavish interior of the complex and tracing sources of inspiration for its architectural compositions and decoration. The Aula has mostly been interpreted as a purely aesthetic composition, of which the scale and decoration had the sole purpose of producing an overwhelming visual effect on the visitor. This focus on morphology has not only prevented an analysis based on conceptual notions, but the mere existence of such a conceptual basis was even firmly denied by, for example, Geert Bekaert. This paper proposes an allegorical reading of the Aula based on original intentions rather than on the built result. The focus is on the use of ornament and how it relates to the architectural framing. It is argued that the design is structured around an allegory of wisdom and additional lines of ornament running throughout the complex. It is further stated that the resulting architectural compositions not only explicate the program of the building to the visitor, they also inscribe the building in a national discourse and give shape to a rite of passage for university students.
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
organization
year
type
conference
publication status
published
subject
keyword
Louis Roelandt, 19th-century architecture, architectural history, Aula Academica, Ghent university
in
Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts
conference name
Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture
conference location
UCL, Brussels
conference start
2016-02-18
conference end
2016-02-18
language
English
UGent publication?
yes
classification
C3
id
7093681
handle
http://hdl.handle.net/1854/LU-7093681
date created
2016-02-21 17:23:04
date last changed
2016-12-19 15:37:14
@inproceedings{7093681,
  abstract     = {Constructed between 1819 and 1826 by Ghent city architect, Louis Roelandt (1786-1864), the Ghent Aula Academica was immediately recognised as an example of tasteful, neoclassical architecture. The university complex was quickly included in the canon of Belgian nineteenth-century architectural historiography, and has since been thoroughly documented in historical literature. However, from an architectural perspective, the focus has been primarily on describing the lavish interior of the complex and tracing sources of inspiration for its architectural compositions and decoration. The Aula has mostly been interpreted as a purely aesthetic composition, of which the scale and decoration had the sole purpose of producing an overwhelming visual effect on the visitor.  This focus on morphology has not only prevented an analysis based on conceptual notions, but the mere existence of such a conceptual basis was even firmly denied by, for example, Geert Bekaert. 

This paper proposes an allegorical reading of the Aula based on original intentions rather than on the built result. The focus is on the use of ornament and how it relates to the architectural framing. It is argued that the design is structured around an allegory of wisdom and additional lines of ornament running throughout the complex. It is further stated that the resulting architectural compositions not only explicate the program of the building to the visitor, they also
inscribe the building in a national discourse and give shape to a rite of passage for university students.},
  author       = {Cierkens, Pieter-Jan},
  booktitle    = {Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts},
  keyword      = {Louis Roelandt,19th-century architecture,architectural history,Aula Academica,Ghent university},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {UCL, Brussels},
  title        = {Announcing the university: the use of ornament in the Ghent Aula Academica},
  year         = {2016},
}

Chicago
Cierkens, Pieter-Jan. 2016. “Announcing the University: The Use of Ornament in the Ghent Aula Academica.” In Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts.
APA
Cierkens, P.-J. (2016). Announcing the university: the use of ornament in the Ghent Aula Academica. Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts. Presented at the Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture.
Vancouver
1.
Cierkens P-J. Announcing the university: the use of ornament in the Ghent Aula Academica. Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts. 2016.
MLA
Cierkens, Pieter-Jan. “Announcing the University: The Use of Ornament in the Ghent Aula Academica.” Joint Doctoral Seminar 28 : Theory and History of Architecture, Abstracts. 2016. Print.