COURSES

Term 1 lectures and seminars focus on the philosophy and writing of history and the ways in which constructs of the past relate to architectural and visual practices. Modernity is interrogated through a re-reading of histories of modernism and reappraisal of critique, criticism and the modern field of aesthetics. In parallel, different approaches to writing are explored so that students develop their own writing voice.

 

Writing Histories, Marina Lathouri

This course addresses aspects of historical research and writing. By working through language, concepts, and methods, the aim is to question canonical histories of architecture, seeking to define a framework of critical thinking within which social and economic realities, ideologies and structures of power, material technologies and formal considerations are intertwined. Students will interrogate an identifiably architectural vocabulary that is crafted to designate specific spatial, formal and material organisations of social structures, critically reflecting upon the ways in which that vocabulary is adopted, modified, interpreted, and contested in relation to changing scales, scope and locations of modernization.

 

Historical Evidence and Representation: Architecture Photography, Tim Benton

This course highlights how photography has represented and shaped the development of architecture, with a focus on the inter-war period. It includes practical sessions that demonstrate the workings and limitations of different forms of camera. We will investigate how architectural photographs are constrained by architectural spaces, available viewpoints, obstructions, distractions, and light sources. We will also try to determine the point during the design process at which architects think specifically about the photographic publication of their work.

 

The courses, debates, workshop and events of Term 2 provide a framework for critical enquiry into the history of the discipline in relation to contemporary issues and emerging forms of architecture and history research and practice. The aim is two-fold: to frame the question of the contemporary from a historical, theoretical, and trans-disciplinary point of view; to expand disciplinary knowledge in a broad cultural and political arena and investigate modes of engagement with changing territorial, social and political formations.

 

Writing Architecture: Intertwined Practices, Marina Lathouri

This course traces the formation of disciplinary knowledge in architecture. It begins with a close examination of early Western architectural writings and how they conceptually and visually describe the object of architecture and the city, as well as the practice and responsibilities of the architect. Sessions focus on the search for origins, language and the growth of national histories; the question of race in the 18th century; the professionalisation of historical research and teaching in the 19th century; processes of colonisation and planning; and the role of drawing and the various modes of graphic and visual representation. The course highlights the historical terms needed to build an understanding of the agency, technologies and formats of architecture.

 

Architecture Agents and Economies, William Orr

Architecture currently faces an accelerating set of cultural, political, ecological, professional, economic and even existential challenges; in response, new modes of practice and production are expanding the discipline in diverging directions. This course will develop a theoretical and historical perspective upon architecture as a dynamic social institution which is simultaneously determined by external forces while constructed and reproduced from within, considering the tools that might be used to define and understand it. The course will focus on the changing disciplinary landscape of the last 50 years, and draws upon texts from sociology and political economy, as well as the unexpected contradictions found within architecture discourse itself.

 

Climate Peace
, John Palmesino

Architecture is baffled by the rise of a new climatic regime and the magnitude of the techno-sphere: from within, these phenomena appear to be the result of multiple human projects, designs, actions and processes. From the outset, humans are only a component of it, drawn into its functioning and endeavouring for its sustainment. This seminar investigates specific conditions wherein this inversion of agency affects narratives of modernisation and an appreciation of the deep interconnectivity between architectural development, rapid urbanisation and the human impact on the Earth System.

 

PhD & HCT Debates

Writing-With | Feminist Architecture Criticism,

Marina Lathouri and guest speakers

The PhD and HCT Debates are a venue for exchange of ideas and arguments. Guest speakers are invited to attend, making possible a process of thinking-in-common, which is a pedagogical practice distinct from the seminar or the lecture. The sessions are open to the School Community. The aim of this year’s series is to bring together female voices in architecture history and criticism and create space between writing as practice of collective doing and making, and ecological and political realities. Writing With suggests knowledge-sharing and thinking in common. Presentations by guest speakers and roundtable conversations will be interspersed with writing and publishing workshops, resulting in the production of a small printed publication.

 

In Term 3, the Thesis Research Seminar focuses on the most significant component of the students’ work, the final thesis. The choice of topic, the organisation of the field of research and the development of the central argument are discussed within the Research Seminar where students learn about the nature of a dissertation from the shared experience of the group. The unit trip, which takes place in the third term, includes intense sessions to help students solidify their thesis. At the end of term and during the summer, work in progress is presented to invited critics.

 

Thesis Research Seminar, Marina Lathouri with staff and guest critics

The Thesis is the largest and most significant component of students’ work within the MA programme. This seminar helps students select their topic, organise their research and develop their central argument. Critical method and historical analysis are equally important within each individual research project. The seminar establishes a set of resources and questions regarding the ‘production’ of history and the accountability of research and writing, which is shared amongt the students. This allows them to define and test their own ideas, methodologies, and ambitions. At the end of Term 3 the thesis outline is presented and discussed with tutors and invited critics.

The Thesis Research seminar begins with the Critical writing Workshop, which is composed of two elements: a series of analytical readings that demonstrate the use of distinct conceptual frameworks, literary characteristics and stylistic qualities, and a series of short writing exercises that are edited and formatted with the intention of creating a small collection of publications.

 

In Term 4, the students develop and finalize their individual 15,000-word thesis independently. During the summer term, students receive support and guidance to refine their writing and ideas through formal presentations to internal and external critics, and in individual tutorials. A presentation of final theses to HCT staff and guests, as well as new students to the programme, concludes and celebrates the work of the year.


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