Sonja Hildebrand is an art historian who studied at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and at Freie Universität Berlin. She received her PhD from Technische Universität München in 1997 with a prize winning dissertation on Egon Eiermann. In 2008 she habilitated for art history at the same university. She conducted research projects and taught at the Technische Universität München, at Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg, at ETH Zürich and at Universität Zürich. In 2010 she was substitute professor at ETH Zurich (former chair of Werner Oechslin). In 2011 she was appointed Professor for the History of Modern and Contemporary Architecture at the Università della Svizzera italiana.
Since 2021 she is Pro-Rector for Research in the Humanities and Equal Opportunities. Before that she served her faculty and USI in various functions, amongst others as Vice Dean for Research at the Accademia di architettura, as co-president of the Accademia’s Doctoral board, member of the Accademia’s Teaching commission and USI Research commission.
Her research focusses on the history of architectural culture and theory of the 19th and 20th centuries. She specialises in the theoretical and practical work of Gottfried Semper, German and Swiss modern and contemporary architecture, architecture in Nazi Germany, the history of architectural training and the historiography of architecture history and urbanisation theory. She was responsible for various research projects at TU München, ETH Zürich and USI funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and other Swiss and German research agencies. Currently she leads a SNSF project on Gottfried Semper’s main theoretical work „Der Stil“ (with Philip Ursprung, ETH Zurich). She published widely on the history of modern architecture and urbanism, architectural theory and education. Her publications include two monographs and ten edited volumes.
Sonja curated exhibitions amongst others at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich (Gottfried Semper 2003, Haefeli Moser Steiger 2007) and the Kunsthaus Zürich (Karl Moser 2010). Currently she is preparing an exhibition on André Corboz (together with André Bideau) to be shown at Teatro dell’architettura in Mendrisio in 2022.
History and theory of modern and contemporary architecture (19th century until today)
Architecture and politics
Historiography of architectural history
History of architecture studies, design theory
Gottfried Semper (architectural theory and epistemology, built work)
Modern and contemporary Swiss architecture, urban and regional planning
Architecture and politics in Nazi Germany
Bavarian architecture in the 19th century
Joseph Wright of Derby