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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Art Historiography
Page(s) 1 - 13
Title of proceedings Journal of Art Historiography

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


In drawing on Gottfried Semper’s archaeological work on the one hand and his design theory on the other this paper questions the contrasting juxtaposition of scientific practice and design practice. It argues that Semper succeeded in making the tension between historiography and design productive for both fields. The linking methodological context is hermeneutics as developed around 1800 and its adaptation in archaeology and the natural sciences. During his formation Semper was introduced into a scientific practice that was based on a combination of empirical research and poetic imagination. Semper integrated this approach into his archaeological and historiographical work, which formed the basis of his design theory. His design theory in turn combined creative with rational and scientific aspects. Semper’s historiography of architecture and his subsequent design theory are finally referred to concepts of evolutionary biology.