module specification

AR7044 - Critical Transformations (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Critical Transformations
Module level Masters (07)
Credit rating for module 20
School The Sir John Cass School of Art, Architecture and Design (The Cass)
Total study hours 200
 
164 hours Guided independent study
36 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 75% 50 5000 word essay
Seminar 25%   Presentation
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module emphasises the social and political perspective of space making at the scale of the city. It is an introduction to key concepts in urban history and theory from the 19th century until the present. It addresses historical and contemporary processes of migration, issues of politics, mapping, architecture and urban regeneration. Episodes of architectural and urban theory are placed in the context of political and cultural transformations, and in particular in the context of the changing geopolitical conditions by which the contemporary city is shaped. The module also investigates how different urban practitioners (rebels, soldiers, politicians, architects, artists, users and dwellers) intervened in the transformation of the city. It presents examples of new strands in current urban practices, particularly those focused on ‘design as research’. The focus is particularly on developing a cultural and political critique of planning practices, aiming to open an interdisciplinary debate, but also to assume the tools to form a position regarding existing planning strategies.

Module aims

  1. To provide a theoretical and historical framework for the understanding of contemporary questions of city planning and urban transformation
  2. To analyse important episodes in the history of urban planning and large-scale city transformation from the 19th century until today
  3. To explore general theories of architecture and urbanism
  4. To consider the relationship between architecture and ideology, space and power
  5. To consider architecture and urbanism as a tool of politics
  6. To encourage critical judgements on processes of regeneration and large-scale urban planning strategies

Syllabus

Social and political discourses have recently been placed at the forefront of cultural practice. This can be seen in the art/culture world’s engagement with social and political critique and its search for ways of intervention and action. This module emphasizes the social and political perspective of space making at the scale of the city. It is an introduction to key concepts in urban history and theory from the 19th century until the present. It addresses historical and contemporary processes of migration, issues of politics, mapping, architecture and urban regeneration. Episodes of architectural and urban theory are placed in the context of political and cultural transformations, and in particular in the context of the changing geopolitical conditions by which the contemporary city is shaped. The module also investigates how different urban practitioners (rebels, soldiers, politicians, architects, artists, users and dwellers) intervened in the transformation of the city. It presents examples of new strands in current urban practices, particularly those focused on ‘design as research’. The focus is particularly on developing a cultural and political critique of planning practices, aiming to open an interdisciplinary debate, but also to assume the tools to form a position regarding existing planning strategies.

The course will go through a wide range of geographical and historical references that will include industrial revolution era Europe, the economic, urban and cultural transformations of Eastern Europe in the last two decades – marked firstly by the collapse of the Iron Curtain and recently by the enlargement of the European Union, military urbanism and security culture, immaterial labour and city centres, and transformation of non-European cities. The transformations could be understood in their particularity, but could also serve as catalysts to reconsider and conceptualise urban changes in the UK.

Learning and teaching

The module will take place as a series of lectures and student presentations. The specific topic for the presentation as well as the essay is to be arrived at in consultation with the module convenor.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be able to:

  1. Understand major movements and changes in the history of architecture and urbanism;
  2. Grasp the complex relationship between space and power;
  3. Understand key concepts and ideas in urban history and theory;
  4. Examine current ideas and developments in urban practice and theory;
  5. Critically assess social and political aspects of contemporary processes of urban regeneration and renovation;
  6. Analyse and reflect upon a particular urban situation or concept in an essay.

Assessment strategy

The assessment of the course will be based on a presentation and a 5000-word essay reflecting about issues discussed in the module. The specific topic is to be arrived at in consultation with the module convenor.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).

Bibliography

(selected bibliography)

1. M. Christine Boyer, The City of Collective Memory. Its Historical Imagery and Architectural Entertainments, The MIT Press, 1996
2. Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia, Basic Books, 2001
3. Susan Buck-Morss, Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West, Cambridge, Mass, London: MIT, 2000
4. Eduardo Cadava and Aaron Levy (eds), Cities Without Citizens, Slought Books, Philadelphia, 2003
5. Beatriz Colomina, Annmarie Brennan, and Jeannie Kim (eds.), Cold War Hothouses. Inventing Postwar Culture, from Cockpit to Playboy, Princeton Architectural Press, 2004
6. Tom McDonough, Guy Debord and the Situationist International,The MIT Press, 2004
7. Keller Easterling, Enduring Innocence. Global Architecture and its political masquerades, The MIT Press, 2005
8. Anselm Franke, Eyal Weizman (eds.), Territories, Berlin: Walter König, 2003
9. Stephen Graham and Simon Marwin, Splintering Urbanism. Networked Infrastructures, Technological Mobilities and the Urban Condition, Routledge, 2001
10. Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the twentieth century, Updated ed, Blackwell, 1996
11. David Harvey, Paris, Capital of Modernity, London, Routledge, 2003
12. Frederic Jameson and Masao Miyoshi, The Cultures of Globalization, Duke University Press, 1998
13. Irit Rogoff, Terra Infirma.Geography’s Visual Culture, Routledge, 2000
14. Tom Vanderbilt, Survival City. Adventures among the ruins of atomic America, Princeton Architectural Press, 2002