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Heinrich Helfenstein’s Photography

submitted by

Irina Davidovici Ziu Bruckmann

Peter Märkli, two single-family houses in Azmoos, photos from 2002. © gta Archives / ETH Zurich, Heinrich Helfenstein

The Swiss architectural photographer Heinrich Helfenstein (1946–2020) trained as a linguist, his approach shaped by semiology and post-structuralism. Having worked as Aldo Rossi’s assistant at ETH in the 1970s, his early photographs illustrated the latter’s Scientific Autobiography, instigating a delicate, absorbing dialogue between images and words.

Helfenstein photographed the works of architects including Diener & Diener, Peter Zumthor, Meili Peter, Gigon Guyer, Burkhalter & Sumi, Peter Märkli, and Valerio Olgiati, as well as artists such as Hans Josephsohn, Per Kirkby, and Meret Oppenheim among many others. His photography not only disseminated, but actively shaped, recent Swiss architecture discourse and its interfaces with art.

Submitted by
Irina Davidovici is the Director of the gta Archives at ETH Zürich, where she is also active as a private lecturer and senior scientist. Ziu Bruckmann is an architect who works as a scientific assistant at the gta Archives at ETH Zürich and the THEMA laboratory at EPF Lausanne.


This object is part of the TACK Exhibition “Unausgesprochenes Wissen / Unspoken Knowledge / Le (savoir) non-dit”, in the section “Horizons and References”.