The exercise is composed of multiple tasks, which will be announced on a regular basis throughout the two semesters. Each of these tasks will be completed and posted on an online platform, to which all students have access and through which they will be evaluated: friendswithanoldbook.delbeke.arch.ethz.ch.
At the beginning of the term, students will become contributors to the blog (login using ETH username and password). They will be able to see other contributions and add their own content. The outcomes of each task are posted on the blog as individual entries and collected for public use as a repository of architectural research. Each entry is tagged with two specific hashtags: student ID (#[your student number]) and number of the assigned book (#[number]). Additionally, tasks are grouped in categories (e.g. Greetings). This allows to verify the completeness of the exercise and to navigate its content. Finally, the title of each post should be formatted as [name of the task]_[number of the book] (e.g. Greetings_94).
Important: Even if the task is carried out in group, you should always produce your own content (photographs, text, drawings…) and publish it as your own posts (so, no ‘group posts’). These should then be different from the others, even if you look at the same book.
Deadline: 13 May
For the last task, you will explore the connections that exist between your book and the others in the blog. In order to do so, you will browse / search through the blog (e.g. word search) for posts that share similarities with your own. Possible points of contacts include:
- Physical and editorial characteristics (size, language, year and place of publication, author etc.)
- Topic or argument (e.g. orders, drawing, geometry, theory, fortifications, mathematics etc.)
- Same or similar books on Xenotheka that share an interest with your own book
The task consists of finding at least two books that share one or more of these or other espects with your book and write a comment of at least 100 words to the posts (one or more for each book) that describe this connection. In order to post a comment, you can click on the post and you will find the space to ‘Leave a Comment’ at the bottom of the page. In your comment, don’t forget to include the name of your book and the specific aspects that it shares with the one you found.
Deadline: 1 April
For the third task, you will explore the relationships and connections that your book holds with other books, across space and time. In order to do so, you will adopt the vast digital library of Xenotheka. You will explore this universe of connections with Alice, a special search engine of Xenotheka developed by Miro Roman and Digital Architectonics at ETH.
By adopting the knowledge on your book that you have developed in the first two tasks, you will find other books that share some of its topics and themes. By choosing different bodies of knowledge in Alice (Alice’s ‘brains’) and typing into its research engine words that describe topics and arguments in your book (e.g. fortification, orders, religion, drawing…), you will come up with many possible related books. You will have to explore these connections and choose at least two books, from any author and time, that you find particularly interesting and relevant in relation with your own book.
The post consists of a paragraph of at least 300 words where you will:
1. describe your process: write about the words you have chosen, the type of ‘brains’ you have adopted in Alice, and the stages of your search, including possible initial dead ends.
2. illustrate your findings: discuss which two (or more) books you have chosen, how and why these connect with your own book.
Deadline: 17 December
For this task, you will focus on the argument of your book and try to understand what it is about. You will write a paragraph of 250-300 words, examining the general interest and topic of the book. You do not have to read the entire book! Instead, in order understand what your book wants to say, please consider the following aspects of the book (but also find other aspects!) and use them in your writing:
- The full title of the book: what is it revealing about the content of the book? Who is it speaking to?
- List of contents: Does the book have one? If so, what kind of sections does the book include? How are the chapters organised/listed?
- Illustrations: Is the book illustrated? If so, what king of images are there? If not, why do you think that is?
- Size/format: Is the book large or small, thick or thin etc…? What does this mean in relation to the topic?
- Author: who wrote the book? What was their background and occupation? What do you think they wanted to achieve with this book?
Deadline: 12 November
For this first task, you will start by looking up and ‘meeting’ your book. The task is composed of two parts:
- You will search for a digital copy of your book. Possible online sources include E-Rara, Google Books, Archive.org etc… You will then post on the blog the images of two pages of the book (jpeg format), with one sentence explaining why you chose them (e.g. interesting images or text, strange pagination etc…).
- You will physically ‘meet’ your book by going to an ETH archive in Zurich. You will have to search for the location of your book on the library catalogue. Please always go in group to look at the same book. It’s better if you communicate and book your visit in advance by contacting the Rare Books collections or the gta Archives. On the blog, you should post two photographs of the same two pages from the online version (jpeg format). Additionally, you will add one or two more photographs that explain some physical properties of the book (e.g. thickness, size, material…), with one sentence of explanatory text underneath.