module specification

AR7006 - Forgetting of Air (2022/23)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2022/23
Module status DELETED (This module is no longer running)
Module title Forgetting of Air
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School School of Art, Architecture and Design
Total study hours 200
161 hours Guided independent study
39 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75% 50 4000 word essay
Practical Examination 25%   Seminar presentation
Running in 2022/23

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester City Tuesday Afternoon
Spring semester City Tuesday Morning

Module summary

The module offers a critique of the theories of modern perception rooted in ocular-centric concepts of space. The ‘forgetting of air’ refers to alternate ways of approaching the materiality of space through interrogating the overlooked medium of the air and how it is understood through the body and by the mind in different contexts.
The module examines the institution of social hierarchies amongst our cognitive and physical senses and how they influence the design and perception of architecture, its histories and theories, and how architecture is written.


The seminar topics examine the general shape of sensory experience as a cultural construct and how this is reflected in architecture. Architecture’s contribution to sight is well recognised but how well does it deal with the other senses? Modern environments tend to be visually bright, acoustically dead, tactilely uneventful and preferably odourless. The material substance of space, the very air is neutralised. The seminars involve close readings and discussions of key texts. LO1,LO2
Examples of seminar topics on the senses include the following.
Kant’s Critique of Judgment is a seminal text in the history and philosophy of aesthetics in which he sets out and explains the role and hierarchy of the senses in establishing aesthetic judgment – a contested “architecture” of the senses that can be traced in philosophy from Plato to the present. LO2
Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is an extraordinary work of recollection, many elements of which are constructed from memories of sensory experiences. What role does spatial experience play in constructing memory and how do we remember the experience of buildings? Is our current architectural preoccupation with visible space sufficient? The ‘five senses’ are a cultural construct. LO2, LO3
Ree’s I see a Voice deals with how we separate and substitute our senses and examines in detail the phenomenon of hearing. LO1
Suskind’s Perfume presents an exotic landscape and drama of smells. It provides a contrast to our sanitised world as well as clues to the growing power of the fragrance industry now shifting its attention from bodies to buildings. LO1
Tanizaki’s In Praise of Shadows inverts the modernist twinning of sight and light and focuses instead on the rich qualities of perception found in the less illumined world of traditional Japanese culture. LO1,LO3
The seminars are also themed differently from year to year, gathering together texts, films, exhibitions, buildings, which exemplify a particular aerial topography. Examples of themes include ‘clouds’ that reflects on the ephemeral and transitory in architecture; ‘underground’ that reflects on immersive and alternate environments; ‘wind’ that reflects on change and movement. LO1,LO2,LO3,LO4

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Scheduled teaching ensures that independent study is effective and addresses the learning outcomes and assessment tasks. Students are expected to, and have the opportunity to, continue with their studies outside of scheduled classes. There will be a range of learning strategies deployed and individual learning styles will be accommodated. The module’s learning outcomes, its contents and delivery, have been scrutinised and will be regularly reviewed to ensure an inclusive approach to pedagogic practice.
The module and course utilise the University’s blended learning platform to support and reinforce learning, to foster peer-to-peer communication and to facilitate tutorial support for students. Reflective learning is promoted through assessment items and interim formative feedback points that ask students to reflect on their progress, seek help where they identify the opportunity for improvement in learning strategies and outcomes, and make recommendations to themselves for future development. Throughout the module, students build a body of work, including reflections on progress and achievement.

Learning outcomes

On completing the module the student should be able to:
1. read into the cultural construction of the senses and the effect this has on the way we view architecture;
2. understand the relevance of a critical, philosophical problem in the development of aesthetics in architecture;
3. demonstrate an acute observation of how the built environment is perceived;
4. write lucidly about the experience of architecture.

Assessment strategy

Assessment will be based on a 4000 word essay developing an aspect of one of the module themes (75%), and a class presentation of one of the set texts (25%).The pass mark for the module is to be calculated as an aggregate of the components weighted accordingly, with the proviso that the candidate must pass Component 1 (the essay).


Bateson, Gregory. Steps to an Ecology of Mind (Jason Aronson: New Jersey, 1987).
Boehme, Gernot. “Atmosphere as the Fundamental Concept of a New Aesthetics.” Thesis Eleven Number 36 (1993), 113 –126.
Corbin, Alain, The Foul and the Fragrant: Odour and the French Social Imagination (Leamington Spa: Berg, 1986)

Grove, Richard. Green Imperialism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995).
Guattari, Felix. The Three Ecologies. London: Athlone Press, 2000.
Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008).
Ruskin, John. “The Storm Cloud of the Nineteenth Century”. Michael Wheeler (ed.), Ruskin and Environment: The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995).
Ingold, Tim. Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description (London: Routledge, 2011).
Mitchell, WJT. Landscape and Power (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1994).
Nixon, Rob. Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013). 
Sloterdijk, Peter, Terror From the Air, trans. Amy Patton and Steve Corcoran (Los Angeles: Semiotext(e), 2009)