About Us

The Department of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture (Italian acronym DSDRA) was established on July 1, 2010 following the merger of two pre-existent Departments, the Dept. of History of Architecture, Restoration and Conservation of Architectural Heritage, and the Dept. of Survey, Analysis and Representation of the Environment and Architecture. The new Department DSDRA was created as part of the structural reorganisation of “Sapienza” – University of Rome

The research objectives of the Department deal with the activities of the two former Departments. They focus on: History of Architecture, including the study of historiographic theories and methods, single historical buildings, cities, smaller towns and the landscape; Drawing, including representation methods, the history of representation, the latest architectural and territorial representation and survey techniques, graphics, and design; Restoration, including the theories and methods of conservative repair, the elaboration of conservation and restoration projects, the consolidation of surfaces, and structural consolidation.

Thanks to the collaboration of the many talented teachers and researchers now working in the Department our research and design objectives focusing on architectural, urban and landscape heritage have not only increased in number, but have also become more multifaceted. Using the latest state-of-the-art study techniques we aim is to find answers to the increasingly complex questions posed by our clients as well as convey and disseminate knowledge not only in Italy, but worldwide.

Studies and researches have been performed in collaboration with public institutions, academies and foreign research institutes in Rome, Europe, and further afield. The results of this work reflect the Department’s ability to make key contributions in its own fields of research and didactic activities. The Department provides basic courses in first and second cycle degree programmes at the Faculty of Architecture and Faculty of Engineering and also offers third cycle degree courses (Second Level Master Courses; Doctorates in History, Representationand Restoration of Architecture). The Department works closely with the School of Specialisation in Architectural Heritage and the Landscape on issues involving the study and restoration of buildings at the “Sapienza”.

History and activities of the two Departments merged in the Department of History, Representation and Restoration of Architecture

The former Department of History of Architecture, Restoration and Conservation of Architectural Heritage opened its doors in 1983 (D. R. 30/12/1982) and was initially chaired by Prof. Renato Bonelli (1983 - 1984). Many of its teachers came from two former university institutes: the Institute of History of Architecture (initially chaired by Prof. Vincenzo Fasolo, then by Prof. Guglielmo De Angelis d'Ossat and finally by Prof. Arnaldo Bruschi), and the Institute of the Fundamentals of Architecture (chaired by Prof. Renato Bonelli from 1969 to 1982). Some teachers came into the Department from other institutes of the Faculty of Architecture, in particular the defunct Institute of Operational Critique (chaired by Prof. Bruno Zevi from 1977 to 1979), as well as from other faculties such as the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy (History of Art) and the Faculty of Engineering.

Other Department Chairs include: Prof. Claudio Tiberi (1984 - 1987), Prof. Arnaldo Bruschi (1987 - 1993), Prof. Gianfranco Cimbolli Spagnesi (1993 - 1999), Prof. Vittorio Franchetti Pardo (1999 - 2003), Prof. Corrado Bozzoni (2003-2009), and Prof. Francesco Paolo Fiore (2009-2010, the year it became the Department of History, Representationand Restoration of Architecture).

Although each staff member at the Department had their own personality and culture, cohesion and continuity was ensured by the shared feeling of belonging to the “Roman school”, founded and promoted by Gustavo Giovannoni in the early twentieth century. At the school History of Architecture was considered a special discipline and to some extent separate from History of Art.

The scientific subjects taught at the Department focused in particular on the History of Architecture and Restoration, from the study of problems relating to historiographical theories and methods and conservative repair, to research in the field of architectural literature, treatises, history of critique, art and its relationship with architecture, documentation tools, representation, design and execution. Study and research topics also included parks and gardens, urban and territorial transformation, structures and technologies, types, architectural languages, and the design of restoration projects including structural consolidation.

The Department has organised symposiums, conferences, seminars and study meetings. It collaborates with other university departments, research institutes and agencies active in the field of History of Architecture, such as the Centre for Studies of History of Architecture (founded by Gustavo Giovannoni), the Bibliotheca Hertziana in Rome, the Andrea Palladio International Centre for Studies of Architecture in Vicenza, and the Centre d'études supérieurs de la Renaissance in Tours. It has welcomed and invited foreign professors and researchers participating in study and research visits in Rome. It has collaborated in didactic activities by providing teachers for several degree courses at the First Faculty of Architecture "Ludovico Quaroni", the Faculty of Architecture "Valle Giulia", the Faculty of Engineering, and the post graduate School of Specialisation in Architectural and Landscape Heritage (formerly the School of Specialisation in Restoration of Monuments), founded and initially chaired by Prof. Guglielmo De Angelis d'Ossat, and then by Prof. Renato Bonelli, Prof. Gaetano Miarelli Mariani, and Prof. Giovanni Carbonara. The current chair is Prof. Daniela Esposito.

From 1983 to 2003 the Department held three-year research doctorate courses in History of Architecture and Conservation of Architectural Heritage. Since 2003 the research doctorate now renamed History and Restoration of Architecture has been taught with the support of the "Guglielmo De Angelis d'Ossat" Library, the Materials Analysis Laboratory, the Drawing Archives and Photographic Library.

The former Department of Survey, Analysis and Representation of the Environment and Architecture (RADAAR), initially known as the Department of Representation and Survey, opened its doors on December 30, 1982. It was established to bring together the teachers of all drawing disciplines active at “La Sapienza” University, but primarily those who taught at the faculties of Architecture and Engineering. Teachers of this discipline had previously taught in several different institutes, in particular the Institute of the Fundamentals of Architecture, the Institute of Architectural Methodology at the Faculty of Architecture, and the Institute of Architecture, Construction and Town-planning Technique at the Faculty of Engineering. Research requirements, especially the need for more teachers to set up new laboratories, led to this union of teachers who, each with their own backgrounds, created an interesting unity of intent which quickly bore fruit: three different laboratories leading to numerous studies in their specific field of competence.

In almost thirty years the Department has produced important theoretical results and developed novel techniques which have made it a front runner in the field of graphic analysis and representation of architectural heritage, a guiding light for those involved with drawing. In particular, the Department has promoted and coordinated a study on how to turn the built environment and design idea into images; it has performed in-depth theoretical research on the scientific foundations of the representation and survey of architecture and the history of the science of representation and architectural drawings; it has also carried out studies to acquire more data about architectural artefacts using the most appropriate and innovative survey techniques.

Over the years the Department has contributed to didactic activities involving drawing and survey and has also implemented high level education courses, for example the Research Doctorate in Representation and Survey Sciences (Research Doctorate in Survey, Analysis and Representation of Architecture and the Environment) activated starting with cycle XVIII (Academic Year 2002/2003); the Doctorate merged two other doctorates, one in Representationand Survey of Building Heritage (starting with cycle V) and the other in Survey and Representation of Architecture and the Environment (starting with cycle VI). Ever since it was established the Doctorate has been taught at the National Doctorate School in Representation and Survey Sciences, from which it has taken its name in order to better qualify the school and facilitate internationalisation. 

The results of the multifaceted research performed in the past thirty years have been published in numerous publications including the international magazine Disegnare Idee Immagini and the series entitled Strumenti del dottorato di ricerca.

The Department has also made its expertise and modern equipment available to public and private institutions and agencies; it has provided consultancy services and coordinated and participated in numerous activities involving direct and instrumental surveys of the urban environment and architecture, instrumental planimetric and altimetric surveys, stereophotogrammetric, analogical and digital surveys and orthophotography, numerical surveys from 3D laser scansions, computerised numerical and mathematical modelling of architecture, and renderings.

The Department has three technical laboratories with highly specialised staff and sophisticated equipment: the Laboratory of Innovation for the survey, representation and analysis of architecture (LIRALab), the Laboratory of Analysis and Survey of Urban Transformation, and the Laboratory of Representationof the Environment and Architecture.


Publications by the Department / The Library