The Beauty of Architectural Surfaces

An introduction to technical aspects


SS 2022


The BA Project "The Beauty of Architectural Surfaces. An introduction to historical and technical aspects" is aiming at providing students with basic knowledge of the different manufacturing processes especially for the execution of architectural surfaces from Ancient times to Modern Eras.
The different styles in plastering will be taught and their importance with respect to political and iconographic aspects will be stressed. Deterioration patterns and restoration techniques especially for architectural surfaces will be illustrated.

Only the understanding of their manufacturing processes beyond history and appearance will provide the freedom of revisiting surfaces and reinventing their role in a novel idea of reuse and colours.

Deterioration patterns due to discoloration and deposit will be highlighted focusing on differences between coloration, staining and patina stressing the idea of natural Patina as a value as well as the concept of Patination in restoration.

Classes are designed in a dual form of frontal lectures and review meetings spinning around an applicative case study: the historic center of Sermoneta (Latina, Italy). According to expertise, the lecturers involved will introduce the different manufacturing techniques of surfaces starting from Stone Works to Roman rendering fresco works and sgraffito decorations.
Students will be asked to reproduce different types of surfaces in their ornamental compositions and aesthetic features by pencil drawing (design from models), and all the while conceiving novel solutions for the missing stones of the external surfaces.

Further, upon successful completion of this module, students are expected to be able to have a basic understanding of interventions needed to preserve surfaces while envisioning choices for novel solutions based on awareness.
Students are, then, expected to remember and applying restoration techniques and their practical applications on surfaces aiming at re-creating architectural elements, which are characterizing spaces.

In a nutshell, students will acquire the skill of distinguishing historical surfaces and their characteristic manufacturing processes as well as their failures occurrences, aging phenomena, patina of time and all the while understanding the effects of restorations and, at times, their undesired outcomes.

Concluding, students are encouraged to revisit the past for reinventing the future by “developing their own architectural languages” based on a deep understanding of materials and their practical manufacturing processes of surfaces while redeveloping ritual spaces of the historic center of Sermoneta (Latina, Italy).

This will include a “repurposing idea” for the historic center of Sermoneta as a whole – including the Castle which is dominating the built at its peak, and individual solutions for the case study of an abandon dwelling typical of peak settlements. Especially: (i.) the missing external staircase (profferlo) originally located at the entrance of each building so to overcome differences in height due to the typical structure of peak settlements, (ii.) the missing roof, (iii.) the lacking parts of the stone architecture of the external surfaces and (iv.) the issue of plastering.

The historic center, now largely underused, is located in a prominent position dominating the Via Appia over the flat land of Latina where the Ninfa garden is located, along with its twins fortress of the Caetani’s Family – thus, inserted in a protected natural landscape in the vicinity of Rome. Because of this, the historic built has been traditionally used by the Caetani’s family (i.e. Pope Boniface VIII) to dominate over the Papal State and as a check point between North and South. Nowadays, it is mainly used as a touristic attraction discussion around this will be stressed to revitalize heritage all the while let people to experience culture.


Lecturer Thomas Danzl, Roberta Fonti
(Contributors) Nadia Thalguter
Type/ Credits Project + Excursion / 6 SWS, 9 ECTS
Semester Summer semester 2022
Language English (learning materials in German/English, individual review meetings in English)
Dates Kick off 26.04.2022, 13:30 - 19:00
Every Tuesday 13:30 - 19:00
Excursion to Sermoneta
Final Presentation 02.08.2022, 13:30 - 19:00
Links TUMonline


WS 2021/22

Case Study: Church of Sacred Heart of Christ the King by Marcello Piacentini


Guest critic Prof. Arch. Giovanni Carbonara, Emeritus, University of Rome, La Sapienza
Download General presentation of the course and case study
Links TUMonline


SS 2021

Case Study: The Monastic Complex of San Pietro al Monte in Civate, Italy

“Certainly, St Benedict was adorned by a decoration which was illustrating a liturgical theme. And we can confidently state this, because of the traces of this remained, and because Christian thought has never allowed the mere research of beauty for the sake of its aesthetic enjoyment. Rather, Christians sought beautiful and persuasive forms to talk to believers. The house of God was intended to be made, not a Monument. On the contrary, today, churches are restored to be monuments, not to serve the worship of God. A mistaken and laical mentality that does not conform to the thinking of the Holy Church.”

Original: “Certamente il S. Benedetto é stato vestito a sua volta da una decorazione che illustrava un tema liturgico. E ció possiamo attestare con sicurezza perché ne rimangono le vestigia e perché il pensiero cristiano non ha mai ammesso la ricerca della pura bellezza per il godimento estetico ma ricercava forme belle e persuasive per parlare ai fedeli. Si faceva la casa di Dio e non il Monumento: ora invece si restaurano le chiese per farne monumenti, non perché abbiamo a servire il culto di Dio. Mentalità laica e sbagliata non conforme al pensiero della S. Chiesa.”

Giuseppe Polvara, 1942


Guest critic Father Umberto Bordoni
Download General presentation of the course and case study
Links TUMonline