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Ht2200: Theories of Contemporary Architecture 1 .

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HT2200: Theories of Contemporary Architecture 1                                                                  SCI-Arc Fall 2018

Instructors: Marcelyn Gow (

Timothy Ivison (

Meeting Time: W 10-1 Rm: 224/225

‘Facts & Fictions’: Theories of Contemporary Architecture 1

Course Description:

The main objective of this seminar is to provide a platform for students to do work on the territory of contemporary architectural theory in the interest of formulating their current studio production as well as future professional agendas. Currently practice is in the process of being actively redefined by shifting political, social, technological, and ecological paradigms. Taking as a starting point Sigfried Giedion’s characterization of transitory facts (sporadic trends) and constituent facts (recurrent and cumulative tendencies) as decisive in the shaping of architectural history, we will examine the complex terrain defined by the recent shifting of paradigms and attempt to discern the difference between constituent and transitory facts and fictions – that are actively shaping the contemporary moment. Acting as architectural entrepreneurs, we will identify niches for future action and innovation. The seminar will introduce several contemporary disciplinary themes through readings and project presentations. These themes are aligned with the content of the 2GAX studio and are intended to outline research trajectories that students will pursue collectively throughout the duration of the course in the form of in-class discussions and presentations. Each student will be required to conduct ongoing research, culminating in a clearly formulated argument that advances a specific position on one of the disciplinary themes introduced in the seminar. This material will be presented in the form of a written essay. The research should be situated as a test case for specific approaches to design and to modes of practicing.

Student Learning Objectives:

1.  Contemporary Discourse. Students will develop an understanding of contemporary architectural practice and discourse.

2.  Independent Research. Students will develop ability in research (reading and critical thinking) skills through study of primary and secondary source materials alongside independent library research.

3.  Vocabulary and Values. Students will practice and improve speaking and writing skills through through close analysis of texts, in-class discussions, written assignments, and oral presentations.

4.  History and Global Culture. Students will develop historical knowledge and an understanding of global architectural culture.


A.1 Professional Communication Skills

Ability to write and speak effectively and use representational media appropriate for both within the profession and with the general public.

A.2: Design Thinking Skills

Ability to raise clear and precise questions, use abstract ideas to interpret information, consider diverse points of view, reach well-reasoned conclusions, and test alternative outcomes against relative criteria and standards.

A.3 Investigative Skills

Ability to gather, assess, record, and comparatively evaluate relevant information and performance in order to support conclusions related to a specific project or assignment.

A.6 Use of Precedents

Ability to examine and comprehend the fundamental principles present in relevant precedents and to make informed choices about the incorporation of such principles into architecture and urban design projects.

A.7: History and Global Culture

Understanding of the parallel and divergent histories of architecture and the cultural norms of a variety of indigenous, vernacular, local, and regional settings in terms of their political, economic, social, ecological, and technological factors.

A.8 Cultural Diversity and Social Equity

Understanding of the diverse needs, values, behavioral norms, physical abilities, and social and spatial patterns that characterize different cultures and individuals and the responsibility of the architect to ensure equity of access to sites, buildings, and structures.

Course Organization and Requirements:

The course will be based on weekly readings and lectures given by the instructors. Each lecture will be followed by a discussion section where smaller groups of students will participate in a discussion of the material presented. Students should read all of the assigned texts for each week and be prepared to raise relevant questions and participate in the in-class discussions. Each student will be assigned to lead a group twice in the semester. Group leaders should be prepared to organize and take notes on their group’s discussion and formulate an in-class response, which will be presented in the last 30 minutes of each class. This will count for 50% of the final grade. The final paper will count for 30% of the final grade. Attendance and in-class participation are mandatory and will count for 20% of the final grade. It is a requirement of this course that all students submit course materials

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