Architectural Theory and History: Research Lab: Architecture, Design & Media. (R-LAB) Scope of the Course 30 credits, part time.
Course Content R-LAB is conceived as an advanced research platform combining archival studies, field observations, and graphic and media documentation. No subject is off-limits for possible investigation as long as it is rigorously studied and methodically examined. The keywords used to define the subjects of this course: architecture, design and media, are easily misrepresented and deserve clarification. Architecture is at best a generic term. It describes a historical practice later problematized by its associations with westernization and modernization. Now it has become one of the most flagrant symbols of globalization. Can the practice be redefined again so as to reclaim its revolutionary role in the face of today’s most urgent global challenges? Design is another one of these terms that are highly problematic. Modern designers envisioned their realm to spread from the spoon to the city. Is design about making environments? Is design about conceptualizing objects? Who is served by design? The consumers who benefit from a constant succession of innovations or the manufacturers whose productions fuel obsolescence and waste? Can design be turned against itself? Is there a way to break the circuit, to get back to “anti-design” tactics? The inclusion of media in the R-LAB course title is the big give-away. We live in a mediatized world, and are shaped by the way communications networks configure in detail the living landscape around us. Buildings spring to life as fully formed luxury icons, the refrigerator is on the cloud, part of the Internet of things, responsive to personal impulses streaming across social media. The term media implies a multiplicity of information, but there is great potential to broadcast much more unedited data. Bringing the media to bear on a critical subject can exploit the power of agitprop to destabilize the current public discourse. The R-LAB is conceived as an innovative and renewable platform: it is informed by a number of significant institutional and non-institutional precedents existing mostly outside mainstream educational programs. RLAB references the experimental programs conducted at the Hochschule für Gestaltung (HfG 1953-1968) in Ulm, more specifically when the school was under the tutelage of Tomás Maldonado, but also references the critical positions of the Situationists International (1957-1972) created in reaction to the founding of the Ulm School–the SI emerged initially as the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (IMIB). R-LAB also builds on the pioneering organization of the International Institute of Design (IID), the London based summer sessions developed by Alvin Boyarsky between 1970 and 1972, and whose experiments in international education over the three summers resulted in one of the most creative periods in the history of the AA when Boyarsky rose to its directorship. The lesser known Italian Radical school, Separate School for Expanded Conceptual Architecture (S-Space-1970-1971) held in the discotheque Space Electronic in Florence, and organized by the groups Superstudio and 9999, though short lived, funneled a generation’s worth of experimentation. Other influential programs include Emilio Ambasz’s Universitas Project organized in 1971 and held at the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, in New York, and Peter Eisenman’s Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies (IAUS – 1967-1984) also in New York. These historic programs were nonetheless incredibly influential, not so much for the positions they purportedly held, but for the breadth of subjects confronted, the brilliance of their debates, and the kind of future that they presented. R-LAB’s mandate is to establish an open forum for critical discourse on the issues that are most urgent today. Intended Learning Outcomes After the completion of the course, the student should be able to:
- Understand and critically employ diverse critical methodologies directed towards research in architectural theory and history focusing on architecture, design and media.
- Demonstrate an ability to frame and convey one’s research using different documentation techniques, including different modes of graphic and digital representation, audio and video recordings, internet, 3D form making, electronics and other experimental media.
- Knowledge in communications, with the ability to integrate individual research work within the public and institutional realms.
Course structure/ modules The part time course is divided in two modules during one academic year: Course, 1 15 hp (fall semester) Course, 2 15 hp (spring semester) Within the 2 semester 2015-2016 two module calendar there are three fundamental phases to the course. At the end of Phase II students will be evaluated with a progress report. Final exhibition on student individual research projects is scheduled for May 30.
- Phase I: September 1- November 13. Course is 60% lecture presentations, round table discussions. 40% short individual assignments and initial collective Workshop development, 20% individual meetings (by appointment)
- Phase II: November 16- February 15. 40% lecture presentations, round table discussions, 40% Collective Workshop development, 20% individual meetings (by appointment)
- Phase III: February 16, May 30. 40% lecture presentations, round table discussions, 20% Collective Workshop post-production, 40% individual meetings (by appointment)
The fall semester will focus on identifying a suitable long-term case-study for each of the participating students. In addition to course lectures and roundtable discussions, experts will be invited to meet with the course participants during both Fall and Spring Semesters. Each participant is required to develop a personal blog dedicated to their research and linked to the main course website. In Phase I the course is set up to present critical methodologies in theory and history, covering a range of research and critical analytical techniques including diagramming, mapping and other forms of graphic documentation. In Phase II course participants will identify personal research projects and begin developing long term working strategies. Participants are encouraged to chose to learn a craft or skill in one of the shops or labs run by KKH staff (based on availability) to explore different modes of expression that might help shape the outcome for their final projects. During this phase an international workshop, organized with a local public institution, will be developed collectively together with the course participants. These workshops are intended to act as test cases using the methodologies introduced in the course. In Phase III course participants will focus mainly on their individual research projects, working closely with the Professor. There will also be regular course meetings to collectively share progress reports and developments. In this final phase participants will be developing their projects for public reception, and therefore final projects should be conceived as multi-media productions. There will be two seminars per week, two weeks per month. They are based on assigned literature on urban theory/history and discussions on dynamic forms of city culture as an evolutionary process. An international workshop based in Stockholm exploring urban issues and public display will be held during the fall. In the spring a seminar will be organized to bring together a pool of experts to discuss the students’ case-studies and to encourage feedback and critical exchange. In relation to the project and in dialogue with the supervisor, access to the KKH workshops and media lab can be given. The Examination Format of the Students Study Performance The first part of the course is examined by the course teacher ensuring that the student has developed his or her own case-study and has taken active part in the seminars and workshop. The second part of the course is examined by the end of the academic year by a presentation of the case study in a media of the student’s choice. To pass the course active participation in the seminars is required, as well as to present a final project and to have performed all parts in a way that fulfills the expected learning outcomes. Grades Pass or fail Examiner Professor in Architectural Theory and History Literature and other Study Resources A literature list is provided at the start of the course. and in addition there will be ndividual reading according to the different projects. Establishment The course syllabus is established by the Education- and Research board on February, 11 2015 and is valid from the fall semester 2015.