Architecture: Thinking Building MA
Facts about Architecture: Thinking Building
|Duration||Full time: 1 year; Part time: 2 years|
|Attendance||Full time: 2 days a week
Part time: 1 day a week
|Assessment||Two 5,000 word essays; shorter reports/reviews; seminar presentation; 20,000 word dissertation OR making of interpretative artefact(s) and 7,000 word critical essay.
|Course structure and content|
Introduction to Kingston's MA Architecture: Thinking Building
The MA Architecture: Thinking Building is a course in the history and philosophy of architecture, offering the unique opportunity to complete the research component of the course either through writing or through making. Although it can be taken as an entirely text-based course culminating in a written dissertation, the MA Thinking Building also offers the option of conducting your final thesis through the making of original artefacts in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture's extensive workshop facilities, accompanied by the relevant critical texts and supporting material.
The fundamental premise of the MA Thinking Building is that a full understanding of contemporary architectural practice can only be achieved through a thorough understanding of history and its interpretation through philosophy and critique. The course responds to an increasing need for the reconciliation of the logos and praxis of culture, with specific reference to architecture.
Rather than accepting the autonomy of 'theories' and their distinction from 'history', the course proposes the study of a wide framework of ideas as they dialectically bear upon the making of architecture. The course requires of its students to achieve a high level of understanding of the historical and philosophical background of architecture in order to enable an in-depth reconsideration of practice through research.
Structure and content
The MA Architecture: Thinking Building is a taught programme with a strong research component.
The full-time version extends over one calendar year starting in late September. Formal teaching is concentrated in the period between October and May. Some guided research also takes place during that period, while the period between June and late August is entirely devoted to self-directed study and research.
The part-time version of the course extends over two calendar years, with formal teaching on one day per week. Students share the respective taught and research modules with full-time students, spread over 24 months.
The main taught core of the course is divided into two parts. The first aims to provide an intellectual mapping of architecture from antiquity to modernity, identifying its relevance to the contemporary situation through the discussion of major turning points. The second offers the opportunity to engage with philosophical discourses of the last hundred years in the attempt to better understand the problematic nature of architecture in contemporary culture. There are also smaller modules on academic writing and research methods, as well as two option modules sourced from the Faculty's other MA degrees.
The main research component of the course takes place in the Thesis Proposal and Thesis modules. The thesis can be either a 20,000-word master's dissertation or (an) original 2D or 3D artefact(s) of masters-level complexity and skill, accompanied by a critical essay and portfolio.
Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list. Those listed here may also be a mixture of core and optional modules.
Research Contexts in Architecture
This module provides students with an opportunity to understand and assess the various means available for researching architecture.
Rather than focusing merely on issues of methodology, the module aims to stimulate critical intellectual discussion about the nature and scope of research, and to address topical issues in the field, such as the boundaries of architectural practice and research, and the interdependency between textual and practice based research.
It is taught in weekly sessions, comprising a presentation by the lecturer, followed by seminar/discussion by the group and presentation of work in progress. It is assessed through a composite critical study of a building or other appropriate project(s).
This module offers an advanced understanding of the history of ideas and its relevance to architecture, providing a critical mapping of the development of architecture from antiquity to modernity through the investigation of major turning points. The lectures provide a loosely chronological journey focusing on key architectural phenomena as representative of particular tendencies within their historical context.
The module is taught in weekly sessions, comprising a lecture and a follow-up informal seminar session. It is assessed through a 5,000 word essay.
Philosophy and Critique
This module continues the work of the History module by offering the opportunity to engage with a broad range of philosophical and critical texts of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as a means of situating architectural discourse and practice in its wider cultural and intellectual context.
The module is taught in weekly sessions structured in two parts: a presentation by the week's speaker, followed by a seminar discussing the week's reading by the whole group. It is assessed through a 5,000 word essay.
This module introduces the strategies and methodologies of composing a seminar presentation for peers, based on work of theorists, philosophers and other writers relevant to architecture discussed in class. It allows for a critical evaluation of the way in which such presentations communicate ideas and promote discourse.
The module is taught in weekly seminars. It is assessed through a verbal presentation of approx. 20minutes, with visual aids if appropriate, and the accompanying written text.
Thesis Project Proposal
This module precedes and is a pre-requisite for the Thesis Project. It consists of the preparatory work required to compose an in-depth, critical proposal for a thesis project. It provides practice in devising an original primary research strategy for a specific research project appropriate to architecture and is a vehicle for the formulation and communication of research intention and the identification of appropriate sources, methodologies and programme for that project.
It is assessed through a 3,000 word written proposal.
This module provides an opportunity for students to produce a body of original work on an architectural topic by engaging in both primary and secondary research at a masters level. The thesis project is assessed through either a 20,000 word masters dissertation or a 'making' project consisting of (an) original 2-D or 3-D artefact(s) of masters-level complexity and skill, accompanied by a critical essay and portfolio.
The thesis project will be achieved through seminars/peer-reviews, one-to-one tutorials and, mainly, independent guided study.
Option modules (choose two)
Computing for Design
This is a self-led research and project-based module. It allows you to develop your skills in, and further your understanding of, digital technologies. Part of this process is to raise awareness about:
- the impact of the use digital media in architecture; and
- how it is changing and informing the design and production process.
Context of Sustainability
This module offers the opportunity to understand the wider historic and cultural context for the contemporary debate on sustainability. Drawing from a wide range of sources, you are required to demonstrate a critical understanding of the contemporary debate.
Delivery is through lectures, seminars and group and individual action learning. Assessment is by seminar papers, presentations, and the collation and critique of a portfolio of current reviews.
Design Control and Management
This module explores the issues which impact on design from the perspective of the managerial and operational processes within architectural practice. It uses case-studies to help evaluate the effectiveness of different organisational structures. You then apply this learning to proposals for a current project.
Landscape and Urbanism Theory
The module seeks to develop a theoretical grounding and literacy in landscape design and urbanism. The subject area overlaps with others such as architecture, urban design and planning, landscape architecture – texts are drawn from each of these disciplines.
Much of the synthesis of the material will rely on seminar discussion and independent study. The module focus is the bringing together of different disciplines with the 'landscape' (rather than the 'built form') as forum for discussion.
You participate in seminar presentations and reviews of critical texts, and prepare an individual manifesto or essay for presentation.
We also aim to develop this module as a short course/public lecture programme.
This module explores how 'making things' is relevant to architectural investigation, development and resolution. Its structure allows for a number of different types of making to be investigated each year.
Some creative outcomes relate directly to the projects that are being undertaken in studio (such as model-making); others engage with completely different types of making (such as stone carving, printing or photography). This provides an opportunity to reflect upon the nature of making and its relation to creativity.
An excerpt from Philippa Gavey's work for the MA Architecture: Thinking Building
"Architecture is never a private matter. It is a constant dialogue – mediation, confrontation, resolution... Whether it takes place face to face or by electronic means, whether it verbal or visual, whether it arises out of innovation or tradition, the building cannot come into being or continue to exist without communication. And this communication is of a particular kind – it encompasses both art and reason, inspiration and skill, discussion and implementation. By focusing our awareness on this about the making of architecture, we can begin to see how the worlds of architectural discourse and practice can enrich each other. We then begin to remember a sense of what might be to dwell in Heidegger's terms, the intrinsic human element of all architectural endeavours:
"Building and Thinking are, each in its own way, inescapable for dwelling. The two, however, are also insufficient for dwelling so long as each busies itself with its own affairs in separation, instead of listening to the other. They are able to listen if both – building and thinking – belong to dwelling, if they remain within their limits and realise that one as much as the other comes from the workshop of long experience and incessant practice." (from 'Building, Dwelling, Thinking')
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