ARCH 3308/6308/4408/6408
A Theory of Place: The Vernacular of Metropolitan Landscapes

uneven floor tiles seen in a corner at very close range

Installation view of Ed Moses's solo exhibition at Riko Mizuno Gallery, Los Angeles, 1969, from Pacific Standard Time, Los Angeles.

  • Instructor: Gesa Büttner Dias
  • Time: Th 2:30–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: 304 Rand
  • Credits: 3
  • Territory of Investigation: Architecture and Ecology, Architecture and Urbanism

What happens when we confront the idea of the vernacular with the postmodern metropolis? Can we think of the metropolis as a built landscape with its own dialects and customs, which generates site-specific architectural responses, despite the globalization of the construction industry? Can we update the definition of the vernacular to capture the knowledge inherent to the generic commercial structures of a city?

   This theory seminar will investigate the concepts of 'vernacular'  and 'landscape' as generators for an identity of place in the postmodern metropolis. Los Angeles will serve as the case study for the in-depth explorations of the seminar.

   We will look at:

  • definitions of vernacular and landscape, as they relate to postmodern theories of the local and coexistence of differences
  • examples of cities as laboratories for local languages (built and written)
  • the influence of the vernacular on contemporary architectural practice
  • representation of vernacular and landscape of Los Angeles in art and writing

  Special interest will be put on the question of 'native' material and building technologies in the context of the metropolis as its own landscape.

  The seminar will be organized through lectures, readings, group discussions, and student presentations. Proficiency in writing is expected.

Instructor permission required:

Attendance of first class and grading of first assignment

View a PDF of this class description.


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