History of architecture : contemporary issues

lbarc2140  2020-2021  Bruxelles Saint-Gilles

History of architecture : contemporary issues
Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information below is subject to change, in particular that concerning the teaching mode (presential, distance or in a comodal or hybrid format).
3 credits
30.0 h
Carboni Gregorio;
Main themes
  • Critical review of recent architecture
  • Demonstration and testing of sequencing and materiality for conceptual ideas relating to architectural procedures
  • Siting contemporary work in relation to the classical tradition, modern and post-modern approaches

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 The History of Architecture teaching unit is designed to provide a set of references.  It will however avoid considering history as merely a reservoir of examples, but attempt to analyse it 'historically', i.e. to put these examples in their context to gain better understanding of their deep meaning. 
The main objective of the unit is to examine and (attempt to) understand architecture as a complex phenomenon, at the same time intellectual, physical and social in nature and what it means, taking a strictly historical approach.
Specific learning outcomes:
By the end of this course, students will be able to
  • be familiar with the relative chronology and the link between the successive contributions of some major designers.
  • analyse the products and 'theories' which have grown in number since the Renaissance.
  • analyse products as a reflection of ideology and power.
Contribution to the learning outcomes reference network:
Build knowledge of architecture
  • Be familiar with and analyse the discipline's basic references
  • Be able to use given references which, by analogy, can lead to other interpretations of the context
  • Develop knowledge and become an active participant in the learning process
Place the action
  • Identify and analyse the paradigms on which the study is based according to various given methods and starting from various points of view
  • Formulate questions relating to the development of the context being studied to make working hypotheses
Make use of other subjects
  • Make strategic use of other subjects to put into question the design and implementation of an architectural project
Express an architectural procedure
  • Test and use relevant means of communication in relation to the intended audience and the target objectives
Make committed choices
  • Make links between different methodological and epistemological perspectives
At the end of the course taken during the three years of the Bachelor, the LBARC2140 Teaching Unit will reverse the point of view, taking as the starting abscissa the current situation and the world of today. The course will therefore focus on the history of contemporary architecture. Strictly understood, this adjective refers to what historians call the contemporary era, that is to say, the one they started with the Industrial and French Revolution. But, in order to avoid any ambiguity, we will speak in particular of the period going from 1970 to the present day (2021). A critical perspective of "today's architecture" which can only be done by broadening the horizon so as to restore it in a context, as broad as possible, not only intellectual and artistic, but also social, political, economic, etc. Although focusing, in fact, on current events, the course will intend to grasp it in its historical dimension and adopt, to do this, a socio-historian approach, with all the difficulties inherent in this kind of exercise, if acting from the most recent past.
The course will aim to provide the student with a critical training on the essential events of the history of architecture and town planning of the last decades of the 20th century and the first 20 years of the 21st. In particular, the course will aim to provide the rudiments of a correct historical approach methodology, focusing on the existing relationships between project and history as well as between architecture and city. The course will be divided into general and monographic parts, without this division being binary and by watertight compartments. In the initial part, some general introductory themes will be quickly developed with a reference to the crisis of the classicist code, to the formation and dissemination of other languages ​​in the contemporary era: the concepts of renewal, eclecticism, Modern architecture. , as they are discussed during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Unusually for a course in the history of contemporary architecture, the question of the historical-architectural heritage will also be brought to the fore: in its great coherence, it constitutes a basic element intended to condition the discussion around the fate of the architecture and Belgian and international cities. In this sense, a quick reference will be made to the neo-medieval theories of Boito to the debate on the environmental preexistences of Charles Buls, while passing by the theories of Giovannoni. Indeed, from 1880 to 1960, a common path took place which led to a different view of the built heritage. In terms of urban dimension, the notion of architectural monument was translated into the concepts of artistic environment and, later, of historic center. These, in turn, represented the foundations of a doctrine of conservation that interfered with the prospects for transformation of the European city (especially in Italy) precisely at the time when it expressed the need for modernization with extreme vigor. .
Certain crucial moments in the history of contemporary architecture will then be identified and deepened. The themes chosen will broadly follow the chronological arrangement provided by the consolidated architectural historiography, but further details and additions to individual events and episodes will be expected. The course will deal with questions concerning contemporary architecture on a global level, from the United States of America to Japan, via Europe and the so-called "third world" (relations, influences ...) in a internationalist, non-Eurocentric and inclusive approach. We will focus on the architecture that will follow the first Venice Architecture Biennale in 1980: many projects, some significant Belgian and international cases and their historical context will be presented, examined and discussed. An exchange, in short, on the most significant moments in the works of the great architects of the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, with reference to the most recent historiography that opened up new perspectives on lesser-known works and periods.
The course will also cover:
1) Ideas and artistic movements with which architects came into contact through publications, shows, travels and their influences on architectural design.
2) Ideas that the architects transmit to the international architectural culture and, moreover, the autonomous manifestation of architectural forms in other places with a fruitful process of assonance and diffusion.
In this sense, part of the course will be devoted to Italian influences on international contexts since the end of the 1970s. Travels of architects and theorists, stays between Europe and the Americas, highlighting not only formal references, but also the most important correspondences in the architectural poetics of the relevant figures of the Tendenza. More in general, the critical debate, the thought and the work of the architects heirs of the first modernity (Sant'Elia, Andreani, Gardella, Scarpa, Wright, Persico, Giolli, Zevi, Rogers, etc.) will also be evoked. Some cities, including Milan and Venice, will be the subject of specific studies: on the one hand Milan, the “city of the boom” par excellence, on the other hand the city perhaps more linked to its historic-environmental specificity, will constitute two extreme cases to reflect around the theme of the confrontation / shock between modernity and tradition.
Teaching methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

The course will take place mainly in the form of ex cathedra seminars. At the same time, conferences and seminars may be offered with the participation of external guests. Guided tours of architecture and exhibitions may be scheduled depending on changes in general health conditions.
If sanitary conditions change towards an orange or red code, the lessons may be held remotely (depending on the color code) using computer software provided by the university. The technical conditions of this remote mode will be specified to you when the state authorities have decided on the sanitary conditions for university institutions according to developments.
Evaluation methods

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the information in this section is particularly likely to change.

The active participation of the student in the course (questions, observations, etc.) is strongly recommended.
Students will be invited to explore a topic with their own bibliographic itinerary in the form of a written assignment to be submitted individually at the end of the term or in the second session. A 16-page research document will be expected (1800 characters per page) + any images or supporting documents. It will count for 90% of the final mark (18/20). A list of topics will be distributed at the start of the term. Students will also be able to suggest alternative topics, but they must be approved. All articles should be written with academic writing criteria and include primary and secondary material. Like all university-level written assignments, these small essays should be completed independently, clearly written, proofread, typed (Bodoni, size 12, double-spaced) and use appropriate citation / note methods (APA). If the above requirements will not be reached, the document will not be considered or may need to be rewritten.
Students will have to submit a preliminary description of the theme and the methodology discussed during the semester: 1 to 2 pages, typed and a bibliography (500 to 750 words). This document will be valid for 10% of the final score (2/20).
Plagiarism: Unfortunately, I have had several cases of plagiarism over the past few years. This is not only unacceptable, but also a reason for failure (Cf. chapter 4 section 7 of the RGEE 2020-21). If you have any questions about what constitutes plagiarism, please consult me. Note: This course requires considerable reading and writing skills. Fluency in French, and if possible English and Italian, is essential. Students with poor English and French skills are strongly encouraged to come talk to me.
As this teaching unit is given in the form of seminars, the presence and active participation of students is required. Beyond two unjustified absences, the student will be refused the correction of the written work, according to the modalities provided for in art. 72 of the RGEE 2020-2021.
Other information
This course does not have cylabus. Notes taken during lessons, listening to and participating in ex-cathedra lessons, and independent reading of the bibliography provided will be the basis for each student's personal learning.
Une bibliographie complémentaire de base est fournie au début du cours.  Elle sera complétée au fur et à mesure de l'avancement des cours.
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Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Master [120] in Architecture (Bruxelles)