M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentShulamit Beimel
SubjectThe Ornament on the Surface of the Contemporary Building,
Herzog and de Meuron as a Case Study
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor Dr. Pliouchtch Marina


In the last decades of the 20th century mostly in Western Europe and Japan, we witness the reappearance of the ornament on the surface of contemporary buildings  that are constructed with advanced technology. The central question in this dissertation is: the ornament on the surface of contemporary building, what is the definition and character of the phenomenon, and how it is expressed in architectural theory and practice.

The research suggests characterizing this phenomenon in a broad view and suggests a typological critical analysis, an index that serves as a tool to discuss the contemporary phenomenon. Representation, technology and culture are the elements that summarize basically the main narratives of the present phenomenon. The hierarchical glossary suggests terms that contain tools, and each tool is given the means by which the discussion can be addressed.

The research examines the dialogue between theory and practice by implementation of the theoretical model analyzing contemporary buildings of the international Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. The implementation of critical analysis enables discussion on the contemporary ornament on various buildings.

The contribution of the typological model therefore is twofold: it is a theoretical critical tool of analysis, and on the other hand, enriches the forms of expression of the ornament glossary translating the architect’s ideas into materials and technologies.

The research poses that the ornament on the surface of contemporary buildings is a message of representation, technology and culture. The innovation of the ornament is in its acting as an agent, a mediator between people and architectural object.