Modernity and tradition in 20th and 21st architecture (Spring Term)

Time:   Thursdays 2.30pm- 4.30pm
Dates:  Spring term 2020: Jan 6th – April 3rd (Half term Feb 17th – 21st)
Venue: Gosling Room
Fees:     £128 for a 12-week term
Tutor:   Prof. Colin Davies

This course is for anyone interested in the buildings around them. No previous knowledge is assumed. Major themes such as the rise of Modernism, the Postmodernist reaction, the survival of Classicism and the computerised transformations of the new century will be introduced and explained in jargon-free terms. The aim is to foster a fuller understanding of modern architecture and thereby encourage the enjoyment of its rich variety. We will discover that modernity and tradition are not really simple opposites; that modernity has always depended on tradition and that tradition has often contained a progressive spirit.

The work of Modernist ‘form-givers’ such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe will be given due attention, but the work of traditional architects such as Edwin Lutyens and Giles Gilbert Scott will also be examined. We will look at the various transformations of Modernism in the post war years by, for example, Alvar Aalto and Louis Kahn, as well as the Brutalist legacy of late Le Corbusier. Although the emphasis will be on Western architecture, those architects who bridge western and non-western traditions, such as Hassan Fathy and Charles Correa, will not be excluded. We will tackle the theoretical foundations of Postmodernism and Deconstructivism – an untypically philosophical phase in the development of a normally practical craft – before analysing the transformational effect of the digital revolution on the architecture of the present day. The course is taught through lectures copiously illustrated by PowerPoint slides, and with active student participation and discussion encouraged.