Share Course Ware
Engineering > Architecture > Selected Topics in Architecture: Architecture from
 Selected Topics in Architecture: Architecture from  posted by  duggu   on 12/1/2007  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
Further Reading
More Options

Dutta, Arindam, 4.645 Selected Topics in Architecture: Architecture from 1750 to the Present, Fall 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA


The Three Magnets Pub, Letchworth, England. (Image courtesy of Prof. Larry Vale.)

Course Highlights

This course features a complete set of weekly questions on the readings in the assignments section, along with student responses to those questions.

Course Description

This class is a general study of modern architecture as a response to important technological, cultural, environmental, aesthetic, and theoretical challenges after the European Enlightenment. It focuses on the theoretical, historiographic, and design approaches to architectural problems encountered in the age of industrial and post-industrial expansion across the globe, with specific attention to the dominance of European modernism in setting the agenda for the discourse of a global modernity at large. It explores modern architectural history through thematic exposition rather than as a simple chronological succession of ideas.



Course Description

This course is a general study of modern architecture as responses to important technological, cultural, environmental, aesthetic and theoretical challenges after the European Enlightenment. It begins with the archaeological digs into a classical past (Rome, Greece, Egypt) as well as exploratory travels into the "others" of Europe to examine the modern origins of architectural history itself within the profession. It ends with the contemporary era of "globalization" and the politics of "development" in the North and South and the relevance of such politics to self-titled trans-national practitioners such as Rem Koolhaas.

The course will subsequently reprise the history of architecture through its use of contemporary ideologies, such as organicism and technology, its provenance within administrative and legal structures, the changing conditions of the practice in response to economic conditions and structures of production, and their role in shaping and understanding social and aesthetic processes at large. Topics cover a wide range of debates on color, drawing, ornament, structure, construction, material, inhabitation, gender, class, race, nationalism, etc. in architecture.

In setting up these constraints, the course will also focus on aspects of architectural theory, historiography, and design in their complicity and resistance with texts of power, specifically with regard to the immense transformations wrought in different cultural contexts by colonial, industrial and post-industrial expansions, and the complicity of the ideas of European modernism in securing these arenas. The course therefore seeks to establish new conceptual relationships between canonical themes of modernity framed within a certain "Europe" in relation to the emergence of a global modernity in the world at large. The course explores modern architectural history and buildings through thematic exposition rather than as simple chronological succession of ideas.


  1. Weekly Assignments: 1 page response to readings and questions, due on weekends (9 required).

  2. Class Presentation.

  3. Final Paper with original research content.



    1 Constructing the Past

    Exploring Forth and Digging Under
    Buildings, Projects, Architects

    John Soane - House and Museum, Giovanni Battista Piranesi - Carceri d'Invenzioni, The Bamiyan Buddhas, Afghanistan
    2 Prelude to an Architecture of Globalization: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Field trip to Mt. Auburn Cemetery  
    3 Landscape

    The Politics of Site
    Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Versailles, Stowe, Monticello
    4 Architecture and Industrialism, Part 1: The Ghosts of Technology Buildings, Projects, Architects

    The Eiffel Tower, Pavilion d'Esprit Nouveau, The Statue of Liberty
    5 Architecture as Ornament Buildings, Projects, Architects

    William Morris - Red House, Auguste Perret - Rue Franklin Apartments, Adolf Loos - Villa Karma, Mies van der Rohe - Barcelona Pavilion, Le Corbusier - Villa Savoye
    6 Architecture and Industrialism, Part 2: Masses, Classes and Regions Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Ebenezer Howard - The Garden City, Toni Garnier - Cité Industrielle, Le Corbusier - Villa Contemporaine
    7 Domesticity

    Gender in Space
    Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Frank Lloyd Wright - Frederick C. Robie House, Hanna House, Edgar J. Kaufmann House; Adolf Loos - Josephine Baker House
    Exploration of topics for final paper
    8 Making of the Modernist Avant-Garde and the Operative Historian Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Wiesenhofsiedlung 1927, Examples from Nancy Troy's Book on de Stijl
    9 Body Talk

    Body as Metaphor in Architecture
    Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Siegfried Giedion's Mechanization Takes Command
    Finalization and presentation of paper topics
    10 Ludic Spaces

    The Architecture of Play
    Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Paris Exposition Universelle 1989, Centre Pompidou, Coney Island
    11 Lines Across the City

    Architecture and the State
    Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Hausmann's Paris, Vienna's Ringstrasse, Chandigarh
    12 Post-War Narratives of "Development" Buildings, Projects, Architects

    Le Corbusier - Unité d'Habitation, Team X Projects
    13 Final Lecture The Story so Far - Discussion and Recap   Tell A Friend