Philippe Rahm: Preston H. Thomas Masterclass

two images of ancient architecture

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History of Architecture: A Realist and Environmental Approach to Urban, Landscape, and Architecture Design History

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.

In a series of six classes that are open to the public, the following topics will be discussed:

  • Lesson number zero: How our homeothermic nature gave birth to architecture (Prehistory)
  • Lesson number one: How beer invented cities (Neolithic)
  • Lesson number two: How the invention of printing killed beauty (Antiquity)
  • Lesson number three: How beans gave birth to Gothic architecture (Middle Ages)
  • Lesson number four: How the tab of a drop-down menu of a computer software invented the architecture of the year 2000 (Renaissance)
  • Lesson number five: How the eruption of a volcano invented the modern city (19th century I)
  • Lesson number six: How a sprig of mint has invented nature in the city (19th century II)
  • Lesson number seven: How iodine caused the urbanization of all territories (19th century III)
  • Lesson number eight: How the dried meat of Graubünden gave birth to modern architecture (Modernity)
  • Lesson number nine: How antibiotics have initiated a return to the city (Post-Modernity)
  • Lesson number 10: How central heating killed decorative art (Post-Industrial)
  • Lesson number 11: How global warming reinvents decorative art (Post-Carbon)

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