2012/13: History and Theory

In this reading group, we critically examine architecture within the framework of post-human theory, geography and science studies.  We  examine concepts like the anthropocene and posthumanism, questioning what architecture is and does and its relation to technology and design.  Precedents for the geographic turn in architecture are explored. Typically, topics to be discussed are ecology, geology, meteorology, cartography, territory etc. Geographers, philosophers and sociologists we read include Matthew Gandy, Donna Haraway, David Harvey, Bruno Latour, Trevor Paglen, Isabelle Stengers and Eric Swyndegouw. Architectural and landscape theorists include Stan Allen, Rayner Banham, James Corner, David Gissen, Buckminster Fuller, Victor Olgyay and John Ruskin.

History & Theory 2013 – 4ARC653 


Architecture is increasingly drawing from geographical ideas, models, practices and techniques to rethink the agency of design in relation to changes of scale, environment, and emergent urban conditions. This has been accompanied by a blurring of the boundaries between architecture, infrastructure, landscape, territory technology and located architecture within wider fields of material and spatial production. In this study group, we will examine this geographic turn and its history. We will look at historic and contemporary overlaps between geography and architecture, as for instance in the work of John Ruskin, Bruno Taut, Team X, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry, Buckminister Fuller, Rayner Banham, Vicente Guallart, Infranet Lab-Lateral Office, Future Cities Lab, Friends of the Pleistocene and others. We will read a number of contemporary architecture and landscape theorists, such as Stan Allen, James Corner, Keller Easterling and David Gissen as well as critical geographers and theorists such as Manuel deLanda, Jacques Deleuze, Matthew Gandy, Felix Guattari, Donna Haraway, David Harvey, Bruno Latour, Trevor Paglen, Ed Soja and Isabelle Stengers.  The group explores the challenges for architecture of new geographies, in particular new territories and scales of context and new cartographic instruments (google earth, GIS and GPS) and examines ways architects are experimenting with the agency of design within them. Students identify topics of individual study from within this broad range of historical and contemporary material.

Tutorial 1: Introduction to Key Concepts

Required Readings:

A: Gissen, David. “Architecture’s Geographic Turns.” Log 12 (2008): 59-67. Available from <http://htcexperiments.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/log_gissen2.pdf&gt;; A: Lourie Harrison, Ariane. “Introduction: Charting Posthuman Territory.” In Architectural Theories of the Environment: Posthuman Territory, 3-33. New York: Routledge, 2013; G: Paglen, Trevor. “Experimental Geography: From Cultural production to the Production of Space.” In Experimental Geography, Radical Approaches to Landscape, Cartography, and Urbanism, edited by Nato Thompson and Independent Curators International, 27-33. New York: Melville House, 2008. Available from  <http://www.brooklynrail.org/2009/03/express/experimental-geography-from-cultural production-to-the-production-of-space>

Secondary readings:

Harvey, David,. “Geographical Reason.” In Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom, 125-132. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Tutorial 2: Post Nature

Required Readings:

SS: Haraway, Donna. “A Cyborg Manifesto. Science, technology and socialist-feminism in the late twentieth century.” In The Cybercultures Reader, edited by David Bell and Barbara M Kennedy, 291-324. London: Routledge, 1991. Available from <http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/Haraway-CyborgManifesto-1.pdf&gt;; SS: Latour Bruno. “An attempt at a ‘compositionist manifesto’.” New Literary History 41, 3 (2010):471-490. We have never been Modern. Translated by Catherine Porter, 1-12. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard University Press, 1993; A: Gissen, David. Subnature: Architecture’s other Environments, 021-027. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2009.

Secondary Readings:

Latour, Bruno. “The End of Nature.” In Politics of Nature, translated by Catherine Porter, 25-41. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2004; Lorimer, J. “Multinatural geographies for the Anthropocene.” Progress in Human Geography 36,5 (2012):593–612; Swyngedouw, Erik, Kaika Maria and Heynen Nik, eds) In the Nature of Cities. Urban political ecology and the politics of urban metabolism. London: Routledge, 2006. Available from  <http://urbanforensics.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/inthenatureofcities.pdf>; Swyngedouw, Erik. “The City as hybrid. On nature, society and cyborg urbanization.” Capitalism, Nature, Socialism 7, 2 (1996):65-80.

Case Studies:

Philip Beesley, Hylozoic Ground, Venice Architecture Biennale, 2010; Studio Gang Architects, Ford Calumet Environmental Center, Chicago Il., 2004-201; .R&Sie(n) Architects, Mosquito Bottleneck, Trinidad, 2003; I’m Lost in Paris, Paris 2008.

Tutorial 3: Geology

Required Readings:

G: Crutzen, Paul. “The “anthropocene”.” Journal de Physique 12(10:1-5, Nov 2002; SS: Ellsworth, Elizabeth and Kruse, Jamie. Introduction. Making the Geologic Now. 6-26. New York: Punctum Books, 2012. Available from: <http://punctumbooks.com/titles/making-the-geologic-now/&gt;; A: Allen, Stan. “From the Biological to the Geological.” In LandForm Building, edited by Stan Allan and Marc McQuade, 20-37. Princeton and Zurich: Princeton University School of Architecture and Lars Muller, 2011;  A: Guallart, Vicente. Geologics.  Geography Information Architecture. Barcelona: Actar, 2008.

Seconday Readings:

Zalasiewicz, Jan. “Are we now living in the Anthropocene?” GSA Today 18(2):4-8, Feb 2008; Fuller, R. Buckminster. “The Geoscope.” In Critical Path, 161-197. New York: St. Martins Press, 1981; Schirren, Matthias. Bruno Taut: Alpine Architecture: A Utopia. New York: Prestel Publishing, 2004; Ruskin, John. The Works of John Ruskin,  edited by E. T. Cook and Alexander Wedderburn, vol. 1: 4-188, 191-196. 206-10. London: George Allen, 1903–12;  Wheeler, Michael, ed. Ruskin and Environment: The Storm-Cloud of the Nineteenth Century. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995.

Case Studies:

Tom de Paor Architects, Irish Pavilion, Venice Biennale, 2000; Jorge Otero-Pailos, The Ethics of Dust, Balzano, Italy, 2008; Herzog and de Meuron, Ricola Storage Buiding, Laufen, 1986-1987; Vicente Guallart, Denia Mountain, Alicante, Spain, 2002; Vinaros Micro-coasts, Castellon, Spain, 2007.

Tutorial 4: Meteorology

Required Readings:

A: Hill, Jonathan. Weather Architecture, 147-174. London: Routledge, 2012; A: Gissen David. “Anxious Climate: Architecture at the edge of Environment.” Maryland Institute College of Art, 2007 <http://htcexperiments.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/gissen_anxious-climate.pdf&gt;

Secondary Readings:

Anker, Nina E. and Anker, Peter. “Viewing the Earth from Without or From Within. In New Geographies 4. Scales of the Earth, 89-95. Cambridge: Harvard College, 2011; Banham, Rayner. The Architecture of the Well-tempered Environment. London, Architecture Press, 1969; Fry, Maxwell and Drew, Jane. Tropical Architecture in the Humid Zone, 30 – 49. London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1956; Olgyay, Victor. Design with Climate. A Bioclimatic Approach to Architectural Regionalism. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1963.

Case Studies:

Easerling, Keller. “El Ejido.” In Enduring Innocence, Global Architecture and Its Political Masquerades, 39 – 58. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2005; Mayer, Jurgen H. and Bhatia, Neeraj, eds. Arium: Weather + Architecture. Montreal: CCA, 2009; Phillippe Rahm Architects, Underground Houses, Vassiviere, France, 200; R&Sie(n) Architects, B_mu Tower, Bangkok, 200; Singleton, Benedict and Ardern, Jon. “Anthropocene Nights.” AD 82,4. Special Issue: Scarcity: Architecture in the Age of Depleting Resources. (July/ August 2012): 66-71.

Tutorial 5: Territory

Required Readings:

A: Gissen, David. “Introduction.” AD Profile 205. Territory: Architecture beyond Environment (May/June 2010): 8-13; A: Picon, Antoine. “What has happened to Territory?” AD Profile 205. Territory: Architecture beyond Environment (May/June 2010):94-99; A: InfraNet Lab / Lateral office. “Formatting Contingency.” In Pamphlet Architecture 30. Coupling, Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism, 6-9. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011.

Secondary Readings:

Abrams, Janet and Hall, Peter. Else/Where: Mapping New Cartographies of Networks and Territories. Minneapolis: Univesity of Minnesota Press, 2006; Fuller, Buckminster. “Fluid Geography.” In The Buckminster Fuller Reader, edited by James Meller. London: Jonathan Cape, 1970; Hodson, Mike and Marvin, Simon.“Urbanism in the Anthropocene: Ecological urbanism or premium ecological enclaves.” City 14,3 (2010): 298-313.

Case Studies:

Infranet Lab / Lateral Office, ArcticFood Network, 2011; Future Cities Lab, Aurora Project, 2009.

Tutorial 6: Cartography

Required Readings:

LA: Corner, James. “The Agency of Mapping: Speculation, Critique and Invention.” In Mappings, edited by Denis Cosgrove, 213-252. London: Reacton Books, 1999; A: Gissen, David. “Architectural Reconstruction of Geography.” In Pamphlet Architecture 30. Coupling, Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism, 42-45. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2011. Available from <http://htcexperiments.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/gissen_coupling1.pdf&gt;

Secondary Readings:

Black, Jeremy. Maps and Politics. London, Reacton, 1997; Jazairy, El Hadi, ed. New Geographies 4. Scales of the Earth, 152-177. Cambridge: Harvard College, 2011.

Case Studies:

AMO. AMO Atlas, Worldwide, 2002.<http://oma.eu/projects/2002/amo-atlas&gt;; Mathur, Anuradher and da Cunha, Dilip. “The Sea and Monsoon Within: A Mumbai Manifesto.” In Ecological Urbanism, edited by Mohsen Mostafadi and Gareth Doherty, 194-207. Cambridge and Zurich: Harvard University Graduate School of Design and Lars Muller, 2010; MVRVD, MetaCity Datatown, 1999; Mogel, Lize and Bhagat, Alexis, eds. An Atlas of Radical Cartography. New York, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press, 2008; Multiplicity. Solid Sea. <http://www.multiplicity.it/home.swf&gt;


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