Dr Anna Ulrikke Andersen

Ten Windows Following Christian Norberg-Schulz: Framing, Mobility and Self-Reflection Explored through the Fenestral Essay Film (2019) 

Second supervisor(s)
Professor Claire Thomson

This thesis investigates the window in the life and work of Christian Norberg-Schulz, aiming at finding new nuances and ambiguities within his existing oeuvre, and questioning my own position as a ‘follower’ of Norberg-Schulz. Taking the window as both literal and figurative, I ask in what ways the window can become a tool for investigating Norberg-Schulz’s concept of mobility and his theory of place through the fenestral essay film – specifically through mobility, framing and self-reflection. 

Norberg-Schulz’s theory of genius loci – the spirit of the place – has been widely discussed and critiqued (Loevland et.al. 2009; Otero-Pailos, 2010; Wilken 2013). Yet, no one has yet looked at the role of the windows in his life and work, and specifically in his theory of genius loci: which is surprising because he describes the window as the place where “the genius loci is focused and ‘explained’”(Norberg-Schulz, 1980: 179). I argue therefore that the window plays a vital role both in Norberg-Schulz’s life and work, particularly related to his reading of the work of the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. 

Through oral history, site-visits, close-readings of texts, archival research, film-making and essay writing I follow Norberg-Schulz’s window on a return journey between Norway and Italy. Building upon existing methodologies of Jane Rendell’s site-writing as a critical spatial practice (Rendell: 2010) combined with the genre of the essay film (Corrigan: 2011; Rascaroli: 2017) and architecture essay film (Haralambidou: 2016) I consider how the window features both literally and figuratively in a series of fenestral essay films which explore mobility, framing and self-reflection conceptually, visually and spatially. Introduced through an itinerary, and concluding with a framework and reflections, this thesis is located at the junction between film-making and architectural history, presented through 10 Windows, each one comprising an essay and a practice-led project.



Title page
Impact statement
Table of contents
List of illustrations
List of archives
Window 1: Trondheim
Window 2: Oslo
Window 3: Journey
Window 4: Hamburg & Basel
Window 5: Rome
Window 6: Piazza Navona
Window 7: Calcata
Window 8: Sierre
Window 9: Oslo
Window 10: Trondheim
USB with films

Related publications

Anna Ulrikke Andersen, “The Norwegian Institute in Rome,” in Screenworks, 10:1 (2019)


Anna Ulrikke Andersen is a Norwegian architectural historian and filmmaker, currently a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford. Her PhD in Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, explored the window in the life and work of Christian Norberg-Schulz through filmmaking and essay writing. In 2018/2019 she was a Fellow at Harvard Film Study Center, where she began exploring filmmaking, sculpture, and essay writing as methods to investigate architecture experienced by people living with chronic illness. She is a Fellow of Future Architecture 2021, the European Architecture Programme, where she will curate an exhibition for the Lisbon Architecture Triennale, based on her work of architecture and chronic illness. In 2021 she was the recipient of the prestigious Work Grant for Young Artists from the Norwegian Arts Council. Her first book, Christian Norberg-Schulz: An Architectural History through the Essay Film, will be published by Bloomsbury in 2022.