This article looks into the productive potential of photography in the architectural design processes of the 1950s. How did photography, essentially intended to reproduce and confirm, bring creative potential of its own to the design process of the pre-digital era, and so contribute to the emergence of something new? The German archival material that forms the basis of this essay is subjected to the hypothesis that analysis of the “gaps” between the image and the object represented is crucial to any examination of photography as design medium and practice. Four concepts defining the “skills” needed to address photography – recapitulate, isolate, perpetuate, sketch – are gone into as means of grasping photography’s real contribution to architectural practice.
Art and architecture historian Ralf Liptau specialises in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. After studying in Berlin and Paris and a doctoral dissertation on models in modern age design processes at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, he worked as a scientific assistant in Berlin and Vienna. He is deputy spokesman for the Deutsche-Forschungs-Gesellschaft network “Lens on! Fotografieren in architektonischen Entwurfsprozessen der Moderne” and, since 2020, curator of Historical Monuments in the Rhineland.
Keywords: photography, sketch, process, architecture, modern era, Germany