During each three-year cycle of the DFG Research Training Group ‘Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings’, a joint excursion is organised to one of the larger international research projects of the academics involved. This event is used as an interdisciplinary project workshop, and ranges from documentation and analysis to differentiated assessment and conceptual design. The first major excursion ran from 16 to 24 May 2015 and took the group to Saint Petersburg, Russia. In October 2016, the Research Training Group visited Rome/Italy and in May 2017 Santiago de Compostela/Spain. The RTG plans a 10-day field trip to Jordan in October 2018.
In addition to these excursions, which take place every three years, the Research Training Group also undertakes further one-day research and cultural visits to cooperating partners in Germany as well as to places and objects related to historic building culture in the vicinity of Cottbus. On 4 July 2014, they visited the Bauhaus building in Dessau and the nearby master houses and on 10 October 2014, the group went on an early-semester excursion to Eisenhüttenstadt and the monastery of Neuzelle. In follow-up to the Saint Petersburg excursion, the Research Training Group visited the Russian ‘Alexandrovka’ colony and the Russian Orthodox Church in Potsdam on 26 June 2015. On 23 June 2017 the group visited Görlitz where a guided tour through the historic city centre gave an insight to research on medival dwellings and to restauring measures taken in the past years. A 4-day field trip to Cologne was conducted in April 2018.
The excursion to Santiago de Compostela at the beginning of the second doctoral cohort is the result of a long-standing research cooperation of the Chair of Architectural History with local scientific partners who deal with the construction and construction history as well as with the iconography of the cathedral. Owing to the two-year stay of the art historian Prof. Dr. Miguel Tain in Cottbus (BRAIN-FELLOW at the BTU 2015/2016) could the academic programme for this excursion be prepared long in advance and thus be organised in May 2017 as the first major joint activity of the new doctoral cohort. The main focus of the scientific programme was on the history of the cathedral's construction, its historical significance for the European Middle Ages, and the extent of pilgrim-related construction in the city and its surroundings. The doctoral students prepared short essays for the reader, which were later supplemented and edited by their own views, drawings and images after the excursion. For a common architectural history exercise, the Collegiata di Santa Maria del Sar in Santiago de Compostela was measured and the causes of its precarious building construction and documented initial findings were discussed.
The second multi-day field trip led the DFG Research Training Group 1913 to Rome and the surrounding area in autumn 2016. On the one hand, the trip offered the opportunity to meet long-term research partners on site and gain direct insights into their research objects. The research by the German Archaeological Institute, namely by Ulrike Wulf-Rheidt on the Palatine Imperial Palaces, Heinz Beste on the Domus Aurea and Norbert Zimmermann on the catacombs of SS Marcellino e Pietro, gave the group exciting insights into the history of the Eternals City. Beyond ancient times, the Aula Paolo VI and the Palazetto dello Sport were also used to study icons of modernism, which Tullia Iori and Sergio Poretti from the Università di Roma Tor Vergata are studying.
In addition, the college also took the unique opportunity to visit the research object of the doctoral student Karoline Manfrecola, who conducts research in to the Domitian Palace in Castel Gandolfo and presented her results to the group on site. A day trip to Tivoli, where the group visited the Villa Adriana and the Villa D'Este with their gardens, completed the excursion of the Research Training Group. On the basis of the research of the doctoral students, who had previously assembled a reader on the objects visited, the field trip rounded off with exciting discussions on the history of construction and the significance of the sites, both for the city of Rome and for the history of architecture in general.
There is no other city that can quite demonstrate the splendor and glamour of Eastern European urban history in a more impressive manner than St. Petersburg, founded in 1703. The history of architecture and culture of this city was the focus of the visit of the college in May 2015. As the youngest European capital and Russia's ‘window on Europe’, it became one of the great laboratories of European modernity at the beginning of the twentieth century, before losing not only its capital city function, but also a large part of its urban elite through revolution, civil war and blockade. Against this backdrop, the city's particular architectural design – which has been largely preserved despite the rapid industrialisation of the late 19th century and immense destruction in the Second World War – is all the more important for the self-image of today's Saint Petersburg as a European city.
The excursion to St. Petersburg in May 2015 took the DFG Research Training Group ‘Cultural and Technological Significance of Historic Buildings’ of the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg on a journey of exploration into the cultural and architectural history of this city which is at the same time European, Russian and Soviet, and looked at the important aspects of historical urban development as well as the transfer of architectural and structural engineering knowledge that occurred there since the 18th century. It goes without saying that the timing of the trip in the 70th year of the German defeat in the Second World War and in view of the current armed conflicts in the Ukraine could by no means be insignificant for academics from a German university. But as research is not just about curiosity, but also the willingness to look and experience with one's own eyes; the journey to present-day Russia also allows a more intensive examination of the history of one's own nation. This programme also demonstrates this understanding through the inclusion of topics of ‘destruction’, ‘reconstruction’ and ‘memory culture’.
Albrecht Wiesener's Preface to the excursion reader (German).