Theory of Architecture 1

Mario Carpo
Architecture, Theory of Architecture
2021W, Lecture and Discussion (VD), 2.0 ECTS, 2.0 semester hours, course number S03632

Description

last updated MC 22 July 2021 

 

Theory of Architecture 1 (2020W, VD, Vorlesung und Diskussion) and Theory of Architecture 2 (2021S, SEW, wissenschaftliche Seminar)

 

ThArch1 and ThArch2 during the academic year 2021-22 will be similar in content to the same classes taught during academic year 2020-21.   At the time of this writing (22 July) I expect all classes to be held in physical presence; however, this will be contingent on the conditions of travel between London, where I reside, and Vienna.  In case of logistic impediments, the course will seamlessly shift to online mode, if and when needed.  

Theory of Arch 1 (lectures and discussion, term 1) and Theory of Arch 2 (seminar, term 2) are sequential courses, and both will consist of lectures and seminar-like discussions throughout both terms.  While it is possible to take ThArch 1 during the first semester and not ThArch2 during the second, I would recommend not to take ThArch 2 in the second semester without taking ThArch 1 in the first, as the course in the second semester will build upon work done during the first. (Students will be allowed to join ThArch 2 without having followed ThArch 1, but they may be asked to do some supplemental work at the start of the second term, to catch up).    

 

Taken together, Theory of Architecture 1 and 2 aim to present a comprehensive survey of computational design history and theory from around 1945 to this day, with emphasis on the 1990s and on contemporary developments.  This survey will be mostly chronological, with the first term covering events till the late 1990s and the second term covering the last 20 years and contemporary topics, problems, and perspectives.

 

GENERAL COURSE DESCRIPTION (applies to ThArch1 and ThArch2):

 

These two courses will assess the present state of computer-based design by situating today's digital turn within the long duration of the history of cultural technologies.  The first course will start by describing the technical logics of hand-making, mechanical reproductions, and digital making, highlighting the differences between digital variability, manual and artisanal variations, and the mechanical mass-production of identical copies.  It will focus on some instances of identical reproduction that were crucial in architectural history, and particularly on the early modern invention of architectural notations and of architectural authorship (the rise of the ‘Albertian paradigm’ in the Renaissance), and on the modernist principle of standardization in the 20th century.  It will then outline a brief history of the digital turn and of its theoretical and technological premises: starting with a brief survey of the "prehistory of the digital" in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, highlighting the roles of Wiener's cybernetics and the first steps of Artificial Intelligence up to and including works of Cedric Price, Gordon Pask, and Nicholas Negroponte; then discussing decline and fall of technological optimism in the 1970s and the onset of the so-called "winter of artificial intelligence."  It will then focus on the turning point of the early 1990s: the legacies of Post-Modernism, Deconstructivism and the invention of the Deleuzian Fold; works of Bernard Cache and Greg Lynn; the rise of the spline-dominated environment in the late 1990s (Gehry, Catia, and technical history of splines and NURBS); the transition from free-form, topology and digital formalism to mass-customization and non-standard seriality.

 

The second term will start with a brief recap of topics discusses in the first term, then pursue the same historiographic timeline starting from around year 2000: the burst of the dotcom bubble, the re-invention of the "participatory web" (the Web 2.0) in the early 2000s, and more recent developments in digital interactivity, participatory making and building information modelling (BIM), followed by a discussion of general problems of digital authorship ("from mass-customization to mass-collaboration").  ThArch2 will then discuss the present state of digital design theory and computation, and particularly the cultural and epistemological implication of Big Data, recent developments in artificial intelligence and machine learning, and their consequences for the making of form (the legacy of the post-modern sciences of complexity, emergence and self-organizing systems; cellular automata, generative algorithms, simulation, optimization, material computation, bio-computing, and discretization).  Particular attention will be devoted to recent developments in non-standard robotic assembly, on research on "computational discretism" currently pursued at the Bartlett School of Architecture, and elsewhere; and on the politics and social implication of post-parametric design computing. 

 

 

TEACHING METHOD:

 

Both courses will be based on the instructor's presentations, in the format of academic lectures; each lecture will be followed by a round-table discussion.  It is expected that we shall be able to invite a number of guests speakers (either in person or on-line) to present topics derived from their own research or practice.  The timing of these invitations will depend on the guest speaker's availability, so these presentations may not be in sync with the chronological timeline covered by the instructor's own presentations.  Students will be asked to make an effort to reconstruct an orderly sequence of topics and content in spite of some accidental disorder in the sequence of the guest speakers' talks. 

 

 

STUDENTS' WORKS (ThArch 1 and 2): 

The default mode of validation for ThArch1 will be an exam (a dissertation of around 1,500 words on an assigned topic, to be submitted within 48 hours from the moment the topic is posted; date of the exam to be determined asap).  Alternatively, and with permission from the instructor, some students in ThArch1 may choose to write a research paper.  The paper will test the interpretive patterns discussed in class by developing a case study of the student's own choice (of a media object, object, building, software, or technology).  The topic will be agreed with the instructor.  Students having chosen this "research" option will prepare an oral presentation of around 15' bearing on the proposed subject of research (to glean feedback from the instructor and from peers) then write a paper of no more than 1,500 words; deadlines to be announced asap.  The "research" option in term 1 is recommended for students planning to take ThArch2 in term 2; a research topic may (but does not have to) be carried over from term 1 to term 2.

 

Students enrolled in ThArch2 in term 2 will write a research paper of no more than 3,000 words in the modes and formats outlined above.  This paper may (but does not have to) be a development of the paper submitted at the end of term 1. 

 

All word counts include foonotes but exclude bibliography, captions, and appendixes (documents, drawings, visuals and other multi-media supports if needed)

 

 

 

SYLLABUS AND SCHEDULES:

 

A 2.5-hour session will be held every two weeks, with extended discussion sessions on days to be determined throughout the two terms, when students will be asked to prepare formal presentations.  Itemized syllabus to follow asap.  Tentative schedule : classes on alternate Mondays, 18:00-20:30, starting  11 Oct  

 

 

 

Basic Bibliography

 

1 - Textbooks for the course:

Mario Carpo, The Second Digital Turn. Design beyond intelligence (Cambridge : MIT Press, 2017)

---, The Alphabet and the Algorithm (Cambridge : MIT Press, 2011)

---,  The Digital Turn in Architecture, 1992-2012.  An AD Reader (Chicester : Wiley, 2012)

 

2 - Additional readings:

 

---, "Rise of the Machines. Mario Carpo on Robotic Construction." Art Forum 58, 7 (2020): 172-79, 235

 

---, "Digitally Intelligent Architecture Has Little to Do with Computers (and Even Less with Their Intelligence)" GTA Papers (Zurich, ETH), 3 (2019) : 112-120.  On line publication forthcoming.

 

---, "Republics of Makers," in Imminent Commons: Urban Questions for the Near Future, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism 2017, edited by Alejandro Zaera-Polo and Hyungmin Pai, 302-09 (Barcelona : Actar, 2017). Also on line at http://www.e-flux.com/architecture/positions/175265/republics-of-makers/

---, "The Alternative Science of Computation," E-Flux, New York (electronic publication, June 2017: http://www.e-flux.com/architecture/artificial-labor/142274/the-alternative-science-of-computation/)

---, "Breaking the Curve. Big Data and Digital Design."  Artforum 52,6 (2014): 168-173. 

 

3 - Additional sources to be found in:

Gilles Retsin (ed.), AD 258 (2019), Discrete: Reappraising the Digital in Architecture

Molly Wright Steenson, Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Created the Digital Landscape (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2017)

Daniel Cardoso Lach, Builders of the Vision. Software and the Imagination of Design (New York : Routledge, 2015)

Pablo-Lorenzo Eiroa and Aaron Sprecher, eds., Architecture In Formation (New York and Abingdon, UK : Routledge, 2013) 

Rivka and Robert Oxman, eds., Theories of the Digital in Architecture (New York and Abingdon, UK : Routledge, 2013)

Marie-Ange Brayer and Frédéric Migayrou, eds., Naturalizing Architecture (Orléans : Frac Center and éditions HYX, 2103)

 

> Examination Modalities English

 

See above for ThArch1 and ThArch2.

 

 

 

 

> Comments English

 

 

ThArch1 :  Registration (enrollment):

Formal registration (for validation, marking and credits) is limited to 40 participants. Priority will be given to architecture students; students from other institutes are welcome so long as there are places.  Non enrolled students are welcome to audit at will (within limits determined by room capacity; with no limits if on line)

Registration is open until two weeks before the start of classes (i.e. until 16 September)  and students will be informed of acceptance at latest one week before the start of classes. 

 

ThArch 2 : Registration (enrollment):

Formal Registration (for validation, marking, and credits) is limited to 30  participants;  non enrolled students are welcome to audit at will (within limits determined by room capacity; with no limits if on line).  Priority for registration will be given to architecture students having successfully completed ThArch1.

Further ranking is made by institute affiliation and semester-level. Students from other institutes are welcome so long as there are places.

 Registration is open until two weeks before the start of classes in the second term (i.e. until 14 February) and students will be informed of acceptance at latest one week before the start of classes

 

 

 

 

Examination Modalities

 

STUDENTS' WORKS (ThArch 1 and 2): 

The default mode of validation for ThArch1 will be an exam (a dissertation of around 1,500 words on an assigned topic, to be submitted within 48 hours from the moment the topic is posted; date of the exam to be determined asap).  Alternatively, and with permission from the instructor, some students in ThArch1 may choose to write a research paper.  The paper will test the interpretive patterns discussed in class by developing a case study of the student's own choice (of a media object, object, building, software, or technology).  The topic will be agreed with the instructor.  Students having chosen this "research" option will prepare an oral presentation of around 15' bearing on the proposed subject of research (to glean feedback from the instructor and from peers) then write a paper of no more than 1,500 words; deadlines to be announced asap.  The "research" option in term 1 is recommended for students planning to take ThArch2 in term 2; a research topic may (but does not have to) be carried over from term 1 to term 2.

 

Students enrolled in ThArch2 in term 2 will write a research paper of no more than 3,000 words in the modes and formats outlined above.  This paper may (but does not have to) be a development of the paper submitted at the end of term 1. 

 

All word counts include foonotes but exclude bibliography, captions, and appendixes (documents, drawings, visuals and other multi-media supports if needed)

 

 

 

Comments

 

> Comments English

SYLLABUS AND SCHEDULES:

 

A 2.5-hour session will be held every two weeks, with extended discussion sessions on days to be determined throughout the two terms, when students will be asked to prepare formal presentations.  Itemized syllabus to follow asap.  Tentative schedule : classes on alternate Mondays, 18:00-20:30, starting 11 Oct 

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES :  11 Oct, 25 Oct, 8 Nov, 22 Nov, 6 Dec, 17 Jan  

 ALL CLASSES 6PM to 8:30PM 

WARNING!!!  the system keeps tweaking the time of classes i type in, due to the different time zones!  and you would think that i could simply take that into account when typing my numbers in.  well: apparently:  not so easy.   anyways:  THE TIME OF ALL CLASSES ON MONDAY IS WHAT I TYPE HERE :  6:00  to 8:30 PM.  never mind what you read here below.  

 

 

 

 

ThArch1 :  Registration (enrollment):

Formal registration (for validation, marking and credits) is limited to 40 participants. Priority will be given to architecture students; students from other institutes are welcome so long as there are places.  Non enrolled students are welcome to audit at will (within limits determined by room capacity; with no limits if on line)

Registration is open until two weeks before the start of classes (i.e. until 16 September)  and students will be informed of acceptance at latest one week before the start of classes. 

 

Dates

 

Course Enrolment

Examination Modalities

STUDENTS' WORKS (ThArch 1 and 2): 

The default mode of validation for ThArch1 will be an exam (a dissertation of around 1,500 words on an assigned topic, to be submitted within 48 hours from the moment the topic is posted; date of the exam to be determined asap).  Alternatively, and with permission from the instructor, some students in ThArch1 may choose to write a research paper.  The paper will test the interpretive patterns discussed in class by developing a case study of the student's own choice (of a media object, object, building, software, or technology).  The topic will be agreed with the instructor.  Students having chosen this "research" option will prepare an oral presentation of around 15' bearing on the proposed subject of research (to glean feedback from the instructor and from peers) then write a paper of no more than 1,500 words; deadlines to be announced asap.  The "research" option in term 1 is recommended for students planning to take ThArch2 in term 2; a research topic may (but does not have to) be carried over from term 1 to term 2.

 

Students enrolled in ThArch2 in term 2 will write a research paper of no more than 3,000 words in the modes and formats outlined above.  This paper may (but does not have to) be a development of the paper submitted at the end of term 1. 

 

All word counts include foonotes but exclude bibliography, captions, and appendixes (documents, drawings, visuals and other multi-media supports if needed)

 

Comments

SYLLABUS AND SCHEDULES:

 

A 2.5-hour session will be held every two weeks, with extended discussion sessions on days to be determined throughout the two terms, when students will be asked to prepare formal presentations.  Itemized syllabus to follow asap.  Tentative schedule : classes on alternate Mondays, 18:00-20:30, starting 11 Oct 

SCHEDULE OF CLASSES : 

OCT 11, 25; NOV 8, 22; DEC 6; JAN 17.   ALL CLASSES 6PM to 8:30PM 

WARNING!!!  the system keeps tweaking the time of classes i type in, due to the different time zones!  and you would think that i could simply take that into account when typing my numbers in.  well: apparently:  not so easy.   anyways:  THE TIME OF ALL CLASSES ON MONDAY IS WHAT I TYPE HERE :  6:00  to 8:30 PM.  never mind what you read here below.  

 

 

 

Dates

11 October 2021, 12:00–12:00, "please see dates and times in the section titled "comments", here above "

Course Enrolment

From 23 July 2021, 00:32
Via online registration

co-registration: possible

Art Education: subject kkp (Bachelor): Wissenschaftliche Praxis: FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject tex (Bachelor): Wissenschaftliche Praxis: FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dae (Bachelor): Wissenschaftliche Praxis: FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

Art Education: subject dex (Bachelor): Wissenschaftliche Praxis: FOR: Lehrveranstaltungen nach Wahl aus Wissenschaftliche Praxis

TransArts - Transdisciplinary Arts (Bachelor): Theoretical foundations: Theoretical foundations

Architecture (Master): Expertise: Theory: History and Theory of Architecture

Expanded Museum Studies (Master): Electives: Theory and History of Architecture

Stage Design (1. Section): Kunsttheorie und Kulturwissenschaften: Kulturwissenschaften

Stage Design (2. Section): Kunsttheorie und Kulturwissenschaften: Kulturwissenschaften

Media Arts: Specialisation in Transmedia Arts (2. Section): Wissenschaft, Theorie und Geschichte : Architekturtheorie, Architekturgeschichte

Media Arts: Specialisation in Digital Arts (2. Section): Wissenschaft, Theorie, Geschichte: Architekturtheorie, Architekturgeschichte

Design: Specialisation in Graphic Design (2. Section): Theoretical Basics: Humanities

Design: Specialisation in Graphics and Advertising (2. Section): Methodological and Theoretical Basics: Humanities

Industrial Design (2. Section): Design in Context: Theory and Design History

Design: Specialisation in Fashion Design (1. Section): Methodological and Theoretical Basics: Free Elective Pool Methodological and Theoretical Basics

Conservation and Restoration (2. Section): Geisteswissenschaften: Kunst- und Kulturgeschichte

Fine Arts (2. Section): Scientific and Research Practice: Media Theory,Art&Knowledge Transfer,Th. of Architecture,Th. and Hist. of Design

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Individual courses: possible