ARCH 3819/5819 (Preston Thomas Master Class)
History of Architecture: A Realist and Environmental Approach to Urban, Landscape, and Architecture Design History

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  • Instructor: Philippe Rahm
  • Time: T, TH 2:30–7 pm 1/29, 31; 3/12, 14; 4/9, 11
  • Location: Abby and Howard Milstein Auditorium
  • Credits: 3

The history of architecture written these last decades was strongly influenced by critical thinking and postmodern theories of the second half of the 20th century when political, social, economic, and cultural reasons dominated the system of explaining the causes and consequences of the emergence of a form, a style, or a language. Induced by a context of massive and easy access to energy and by the progress of medicine, this history that precedes us, that can be described as cultural, has largely ignored the physical, geographical, climatic, or bacteriological reasons that have, in reality, shaped, in a decisive way, over centuries, the architectural form, that of buildings, from cities to interior decoration. Our objective or realistic history of architecture courses will highlight the natural, physical, biological, and climatic causes that have influenced the development of architectural history and its figures, from prehistory until today, in order to understand how to face the major environmental challenges of our century and build in a better way in response to climate urgency.

  • Lesson #0: How our homeothermic nature gave birth to architecture (Prehistory)
  • Lesson #1: How beer invented cities (Neolithic)
  • Lesson #2: How the invention of printing killed beauty (Antiquity)
  • Lesson #3: How beans gave birth to Gothic architecture (Middle Ages)
  • Lesson #4: How the tab of a drop-down menu of a computer software invented the architecture of the year 2000 (Renaissance)
  • Lesson #5: How the eruption of a volcano invented the modern city (19th century I)
  • Lesson #6: How a sprig of mint has invented nature in the city (19th century II)
  • Lesson #7: How iodine caused the urbanization of all territories (19th century III)
  • Lesson #8: How the dried meat of Graubünden gave birth to modern architecture (Modernity)
  • Lesson #9: How antibiotics have initiated a return to the city (Post-Modernity)
  • Lesson #10: How central heating killed decorative art (Post-Industrial)
  • Lesson #11: How global warming reinvents decorative art (Post-Carbon)

View a PDF of this class description.


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