ARCH 499B Architectural Analysis – Architecture and the City

Credits: 3

Prerequisites: Architecture or Landscape Architecture majors or permission of instructor

Course Description

The course is based on the theoretical assumption that in an age in which architecture seems to have occupied the forefront of contemporary cultural representation, the knowledge and awareness of the historical heritage on which contemporary architecture rests is an essential tool to avoid futile even if sometimes skilful stylistic exercises. The architect more than any other creative intellectual should be sensitive to cultural tradition in order to propose solutions which may very well be radical, but never ignorant of the cultural framework in which he or she is operating. The course proposes an investigation of the historical roots of the “Modern language of Architecture” as a means to establish an operative bridge between critical architectural analysis and architectural design in the contemporary world. We are going to travel in time and analyze the various phases of Roman architecture through the eyes of our contemporary condition of modern professionals operating in a globalized society, trying to capture all the possible elements of modernity which we encounter.

The course will take maximum advantage of the unique location of Rome as a paradigm of urbanity and it will focus on the study of the innovative aspects of Roman architecture from its early beginnings to the more recent contemporary realizations so as to highlight the universal design elements that are part of an analytical understanding, but also of a synthetic, design understanding of architectural and urban space. This course is theory based and as such the students will be expected to discuss, dissect, analyse and recompose architecture, both conceptually and graphically, in the attempt to grasp the symbolic and functional objectives of each artefact and the design strategies which were activated in order to reach them.

Course Method

The course is a lecture/discussion course. It will involve readings, lectures, on–site field trips, and seminar discussions. Guest lecturers with interesting perspectives on urban architectural issues will also be part of the course. You are expected to keep pace with the required readings, attend all lectures, and participate in discussion in a prepared and stimulating manner. The course material will, whenever possible, be coordinated to your studio and cartography classes. Our intent is to present architectural issues in as comprehensive a manner as possible, taking full advantage of our unique location.

The course will be articulated in a series of lectures which will present and analyse the fundamental aspects of the most significant periods of Roman architecture which will be investigated from the semantic and technical points of view in an effort to establish elements of continuity with the problems which face the contemporary architect. Your studio design problem, also set in this city, will be the operative dimension in which to test the design value of your analytical investigations and you will be asked to establish recognizable links between your design solutions and the body of work you are producing for the architectural analysis course. Lectures will be followed by field trips which will allow you to verify on the field the concepts which have been previously discussed during the lecture.

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