Die Idee der Großform: Eine neue Sicht auf das Werk des Architekten Oswald Mathias Ungers und die Frage nach einem möglichen Entwurfswerkzeug

Translated title of the contribution: The Idea of Grossform.: New insights on the work of the architect Oswald Mathias Ungers and the question of a potential design tool

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Oswald Mathias Ungers was one of the most important post-war German architects. In addition to his realized projects he is known for his conceptual designs and theoretical considerations. This work provides a new interpretation of his work by examining and analyzing his texts and projects from the 1960s and 1970s with regard to his idea of Grossform. This work combines historical research with methods of design research aiming at making the results applicable not only to theory but also to design practice and teaching.
The historical investigation on the term Grossform provides an overview of the most important aspects of the notion of Greatness in architecture - which does not always refer to large scale - and proves on the one hand that the concept of Grossform is dazzling and contradictory in itself and demonstrates on the other hand that it is the current practice of using the term unnecessarily shortened exclusively to describe large-scale buildings.
The analysis of key texts about Grossform by Oswald Mathias Ungers from the 1960s and the connection between Ungers’ theories with texts and projects by his contemporaries – foremost with members of Team 10 – enables a new reading of his oeuvre. The idea behind the concept of Grossform is thus clarified and its meaning for Ungers as a tool for designing is revealed. The result is a well-grounded analysis of the concepts form and structure: established termini within the discipline of architecture which describe two completely different architectural traditions and cultures but meet nontheless within the idea of Großform.
By breaking down Ungers’ idea of Grossform into its conceptual individual parts, its potential for contemporary design and design teaching can be shown. The analysis of selected projects by Ungers illustrates how the previously described theoretical concepts can be found in his designs. The results are gathered by methods of architectural analysis and are presented with diagrams and axonometric drawings.
The research shows the great potential of historical analysis for current architectural practice. By specifying the vague concept of Grossform design instruments have been developed which can support the decision-making processes during designing. Furthermore this work demonstrates how research can be done in architecture with employing its own methods and tools.
Original languageGerman
QualificationDoctor of Technology
Awarding Institution
  • Graz University of Technology (90000)
  • Gangoly, Hans, Supervisor
  • Hnilica, Sonja, Supervisor, External person
Award date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2020

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