Space -art: The dialectic between the concepts of Raum and Bekleidung

Tonkao Panin, University of Pennsylvania


I propose to examine the close relationship between the concepts of Raum and Bekleidung, the two fundamental terms of architectural discourse formulated during the Nineteenth century. Translated as “space” and “cladding,” the parameter of their relationship resides within the theories and practices of Gottfried Semper, August Schmarsow, Camillo Sitte, Otto Wagner and Adolf Loos. Both concepts of Raum and Bekleidung are studied in relation to the architectural culture of Vienna during the last twenty-five years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, from the first phase of the Ringstrasse development to the third. This dissertation argue that space (Raum) came to be regarded as an architectural concept under the pretext of the discourse on cladding (Bekleidung). The interrelated concepts of enclosure and cladding are the antecedents of architectural space. August Schmarsow stated that architecture is the creatress of space, while Camillo Sitte affirmed that space belongs not only to the inside but also the outside of architecture. Adolf Loos, on the other hand, claimed, with the authority of Gottfried Semper, that the first task of architecture was cladding. Schmarsow, Sitte, Wagner and Loos, all formulated their theories with the work of Gottfried Semper as their base. Along with the platform-earthwork, the roof and the hearth, Semper recognized the wall and its motive to bind and to delimit. Recognizing both the architectural enclosure as well as its symbolic value, Semper derived the subsequent Bekleidung theory. Semper's acknowledgement of enclosure preceded Schmarsow's recognition of space as the essence of architectural creation. Through the recognition of boundary, architecture is acknowledged as a self-contained spatial body. In this way, architecture was considered as a manifold of the both space and cladding. The result we arrive at is architectural spatiality.

Subject Area

Architecture|Art History

Recommended Citation

Panin, Tonkao, "Space -art: The dialectic between the concepts of Raum and Bekleidung" (2003). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3087446.