Centre for Continuing Education

Philosophy Course: Philosophy of Architecture

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This course explores the ways in which humans embody their ideas, spirit and power relations in built environments. Some issues discussed include: Architecture and the ethics of a ‘good’ society; The role of creativity: Imaginary cities of the mind; Architecture and the phenomenal body in space; and the fundamental components of architectural design. We will begin with the Roman philosopher Vitruvius. Vitruvius’s The Ten Books on Architecture are considered to be the first major works on architecture. For Vitruvius, civilization itself requires movement from cave (non-constructed shelter) to purpose built structures; he is suggesting that humans became ‘civilized’ through architecture. This idea raises the question of how essential architecture is to our human being. Vitruvius also raises the question of ‘beauty’ and how necessary features such as proportion, order and harmony are to Architecture. This question goes back to the Greeks and has remained an important issue down to the present. We will move through the Renaissance, considering two models: the relations of Architecture to the metaphysical; and the Renaissance model of the human body for Architecture. Finally, we will arrive at the Modern and Postmodern ideas of the city and the suburbs.

Aims

This course aims to:

  • Give an in-depth understanding of the issues involved in of the Philosophy of Architecture.
  • Give the student an understanding of the history of Architecture and its developments.
  • Facilitate discussion on the ideas of some of the great Architectural theorists.
  • Provide an understanding of the role Architecture plays in our lives.
  • Promote discussion on the political and ethical implications of Architecture.

Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course participants should be able to:

  1. Recognise many historical types of Architecture.
  2. Discuss a range of theories which have historically underpinned the buildings of the past and present.
  3. Discuss different philosophical positions on Architecture.
  4. Discuss both universal and topical issues in Architecture.
  5. Identify ways of researching the topic further.

Content

1. Introduction to Concepts:

We will consider the idea of Architecture, as opposed to mere shelter or other forms of engineering; what does it mean to ‘inhabit’ a built social space, and how essential is architecture to our human being.

2. Introduction to the Politics of Architecture:

Contemporary theorists have had much to say on this issue, including new concerns about environmental ethics. What does it mean for architecture to be ‘ethical’, and who decides which human needs should it should provide.

3. Vitruvius’s The Ten Books of Architecture

Vitruvius’s The Ten Books of Architecture are considered to be the first major works on architecture. For Vitruvius civilization itself requires movement from cave (non constructed shelter) to purpose built structures; he is suggesting that humans became ‘civilized’ through architecture. Vitruvius also raises the question of ‘beauty’ and how necessary features such as proportion, order and harmony are to Architecture.

4. The Renaissance:

We will consider two Renaissance theories: the relations of Architecture to metaphysical principles; and the Renaissance understanding of the human body as an as an organic, integrated entity.

5. The Enlightenment and the Gothic Romantic:

We will consider ideas contributed to Architecture from the 18th and 19th century, moving from Enlightenment reason to Gothic mysticism.

6. John Ruskin:

Ruskin, the mid nineteenth century art critic, also had a well developed theory of Architecture. His works: The Seven Lamps of Architecture and The Stones of Venice remained influential for subsequent generations, down to the Modernists. He was particularly important to the Pre-Raphelites.

7. The Politics of American Cities:

In the 1950’s Jane Jacobs outlined one of the first explicitly political and ethical philosophies of Architecture. In The Death and Life of Great American Cities she critiques government polices as being intentionally exclusivist and unjust to underprivileged groups in America. She calls for a more inclusive and egalitarian planning policy for the future of modern cities.

8. Cities of the Mind:

This week we will look at the long history of fictional cities and the role they played in ideologies both past and present. A wonderful example here is the biblical Tower of Babel.

9. Modernism to Postmodernism:

Imagining the Modern City metaphor and the metropolis. We will look at Frank Lloyd Wright: the beauty of the clean line and the ‘Organic’ curve. Charles Jencks: inventing the Language of Post-Modern Architecture and our own Harry Seidler: love him or hate him.

10. Where from Now:

What do Architects have to say about the future?

Delivery Style

Lecture

Recommended Reading

To be provided in class.

Materials

To be provided in class.

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion
$316 Limited inc GST
Philosophy Course: Philosophy of Architecture

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