Sem 02 | Culture and Builtform

A History of Building Technology

This is an introductory course on the history of architecture, formulated as a history of modes, methods and tools of form and space making in architecture. To that extent, firstly, the course is formulated as an architectural aesthetic appreciation course. Secondly, the course is structured as a methodological course, not merely an informative one, in the appreciation of architecture as an aesthetic practice.

Towards this end, the course will work with the trope of attachment. Attachment, as Graham Harman explains, “pertains both to emotional and physical joinings.” This holds that there must be a certain degree of sincerity between things that either ensures conjoining, in high degree of sincerity, and disjoining, in lower degree, or lack of sincerity between things. Imagine if atoms were insincere in the making of a molecule. Attachment also holds that things must also have a mutual capacity to attach with one another. Imagine a paper screen trying to stop a blow of a sword. Attachment is an important concept for architects, especially for those newly getting familiar to the field of architecture - or any discipline for that matter; as it demands a high degree of empathy to, both, let something  attach and be attached to something - in our case that something is architecture itself – understood as a discipline of making form and space.

The second operative concept for the course is the idea of tool. Tool here is understood as any entity that has an effect on other entities. Seen this way it is possible to think beyond the utilitarian attribute associated with the term tool. This conception helps open up two things: one, that history itself is a tool to miniaturize occurrences in the world -we will be concerned with the human scale of the world, space and time- and present such that it is possible to get a sense of the unfolding of the occurrences. Secondly, history itself gets constructed with the help of tools like the atlas, map, timeline, periodization, images, objects, graphs, and fictions. So, the first objective of the module is to introduce the students to the tools to engage with histories.  

Similarly, architecture can be seen as a tool to think about enclosures, delineations, and inhabitations -floors, walls, roofs- ways of producing these delineations, enclosures and ways of navigating through and around enclosures. Architecture also relies on the capacity for a high degree of attachment between various elements of architecture -including, and importantly, its inhabitants.  

This way, the course is formulated as a methodological course where the students will learn how to critically engage with the architectural histories -not so much as information but as a way to develop a taste or critical appreciation for the aesthetic practice of architecture.