This workshop, seeks to address the problems of teaching theory today and the need to revise the existing model of “Introduction to Architectural Theory” survey courses. The existing model for such courses typically read the treatises, enlightenment essays, modernist manifestoes, critical theory and French theory, addressing topics such as architectural mimesis; the body-building analogy; customary and natural beauty; honesty to materials, construction, structure and labor; utopia; the crisis of modernity; alienation, authenticity; regionalism; contextualism and autonomy, etc.. These texts are usually exclusively Western in their provenance and issues. Our workshop seeks to collectively rethink this model, and forge a new model for teaching theory for the decades to come, by thinking how this model can become more global. The “intro theory” course in schools of architecture in the West is a fairly recent addition to the curriculum. In its current form (heavy with the influence of Critical Theory and French Theory) it belongs largely to the late 1980s. (Though in several schools it also contains many elements that belong to earlier centuries, such as the treatises, enlightenment essays, and modernist manifestoes; often combined in contradictory ways). While theory courses in the 1990s were widely seen by students as one of the most exciting new aspects of the curriculum, the problem that the intro theory course faces today is that students increasingly appear indifferent about having to read either Laugier or Derrida. If students themselves feel this way about theory then Deans, under pressure to fit ever-more technical courses into the curriculum in order to make graduates “job-ready,” will find it all-too-easy to begin cutting the intro theory class from the curriculum altogether. And while history courses are somewhat protected by NAAB requirement (in the US at least) to teach global cultures, theory is less so, leaving it all the more vulnerable. In short, the theory class must be rethought to survive in the curriculum of an architect’s education in the future, and questioning how theory can be more global will help catalyze this rethinking.
21 May 2018 — 15 May 2018
Sponsored by the GAHTC