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The Principles of Reading Architecture

  • Module code: AR4001
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 4
  • Credits: 30
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: AR4002, AR4003, AR4004

Summary

Architecture exists at the root of culture: it is shaped by cultural, artistic, social and historical factors and in turn impacts on its wider cultural and physical contexts, transforming them through its physical presence. The reading of history reveals the connections between the past and present: ritual and practical requirements have always been embodied in buildings, disclosing both past world views and the particularities of specific, local conditions. The reading of a site establishes a basis for making an intervention in that site and by doing so, initiates a process of change.

This module provides students with a chronological survey of architectural history, focusing on illustrative case studies. It introduces the study of precedent, exploring the ways in which ideas that emerge from such studies can inform a developing design project. The module establishes methods for analysing sites and their wider contexts, and asks students to begin to acknowledge the fundamental importance of the subject and context of a project, in the development of an appropriate architectural response.

Aims

  • To introduce students to the cultural and historical context of architecture, engendering a broad understanding of cultural tradition;
  • To introduce students to methods of analysing sites and their wider physical and cultural contexts, in dialogue with the more immediate requirements of a brief;
  • To encourage students to explore and articulate connections between their own work and relevant precedents.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

1.    Recognise and summarise some of the main themes of architectural tradition, as embodied in buildings, urban design, and landscape design;

2.    Research a subject, finding and collating relevant information and appropriately referencing it;

3.    Begin to develop a coherent argument in written form, demonstrating appropriate editing and referencing skills;

4.    Engage in primary observational research and site survey, to begin to assemble an understanding of context as a basis for a design proposition;

5.    Identify some of the physical, cultural, and social conditions that define a specific place;

6.    Begin to explore relevant precedent and programmatic requirements in order to inform a design proposition.

Curriculum content

  • The history of European architecture, focusing on motifs of continuity in the architectural discourse;
  • Architectural history and theory;
  • Architectural precedent study;
  • Primary and secondary observation and research;
  • Writing, referencing and research skills;
  • Developing a coherent argument;
  • An introduction to site analysis;
  • How to survey a simple site using analogue methods;
  • An introduction to the architect's brief;
  • How to analyse a simple brief in terms of subject and context;
  • How to undertake project-specific case studies;
  • How to use subject and context analysis to define the terms of a simple design project.

Teaching and learning strategy

The module has one supportive/contextual based element (Coursework) and one design based element (Design Portfolio). The Coursework and the Design Portfolio parts of the course are taught in relation to each other through a combination of studio based projects, lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and study visits.

The School employs various learning technologies to support the teaching and learning strategies. Canvas is used to support teaching and learning in all modules, and other aspects of the courses and School as a whole.  It is used at a modular level as a repository for all module documentation, such as the module guide, briefs, lecture handouts, support material, and links to web-resources. It is also used for tutorial and workshop sign-up lists and discussion forums where appropriate.  Students should check this site on a daily basis.

All courses based in the Kingston School of Art offer students free access to the online video tutorial platform Lynda.com. This provides a wide range of subjects to choose from, many with downloadable exercise files, including software tutorials covering photography, graphics, web design, audio and music, CAD and Microsoft Office software, as well as courses on Business and Management skills. Some of these are embedded in the curriculum and offer additional self-paced learning, others may be taken at will by students wishing to broaden their employability skills in other areas.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Studio-based projects, lectures, workshops, study visits, tutorials, seminars. 75
Guided independent study 225
Total (number of credits x 10) 300

Assessment strategy

Assessment for this module has two elements of assessment. The Coursework consists of one assessed element. The Design Portfolio is a separate element and is synoptically assessed across all 4 modules.

Within the Coursework element feedback/feed forward is given in different forms depending on the nature of the work. There will however be the opportunity for at least one group or individual tutorial and formal written feedback following submission, within the prescribed timescale.

Within the Design Portfolio element the following strategies for feedback/feed forward apply:

  • Weekly tutorials, either group or individual as appropriate to the project stage
  • At least one formal presentation and review, with written feedback, within each teaching block
  • Formative feedback on a submitted portfolio at end of teaching block 1
  • Formal written feedback on a submitted portfolio at end of teaching block 2

Coursework Assessment (50%):

The assessment for the Coursework element on this module is a 1500 word illustrated essay. This is reflected in Learning Outcomes 1-3.

Design Portfolio (50%):

The assessment for the Design Portfolio element on this module is a portfolio of work evidencing contextual investigation and precedent research within the Design Project. A typical example of this element may include a range of media (e.g. drawings, photographs, models) expressing how the physical context and relevant precedents have contributed to the design project. This is reflected in Learning Outcomes 4-6.

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
1) Recognise and summarise some of the main themes of architectural tradition, as embodied in buildings, urban design, and landscape design; Coursework Assessment (Illustrated essay)
2) Research a subject, finding and collating relevant information and appropriately referencing it; Coursework Assessment (Illustrated essay)
3) Begin to develop a coherent argument in written form, demonstrating appropriate editing and referencing skills. Coursework Assessment (illustrated essay)
4) Engage in primary observational research and site survey, to begin to assemble an understanding of context as a basis for a design proposition; Design Portfolio.
5) Identify some of the physical, cultural, and social conditions that define a specific place; Design Portfolio.
6) Begin to explore relevant precedent and programmatic requirements in order to inform a design proposition. Design Portfolio.

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
Coursework assessment (1500 word illustrated essay) Coursework 50%
Design portfolio Coursework 50%
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It is a requirement that the elements of assessment are passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module.

Bibliography core texts

To be developed in line with discussions about course content.

Summerson, J., 1993. The Classical Language of Architecture. London: Thames & Hudson

Curtis, W.J.R., 1982. Modern Architecture Since 1900. London: Phaidon

Forty, A., 2000. Words and Buildings, A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture. London: Thames & Hudson

Frampton, K., 1992. Modern Architecture, A Critical History. London: Thames & Hudson

Gombrich, E.H., 1995. The Story of Art. London: Phaidon

Bibliography recommended reading

Bachelard, G., 1992. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press.

Information on Referencing:

Kingston University Academic Skills Page,  which includes the link to the Harvard referencing guide for students within Kingston School of Art

Peers, R., and Shields, G. 2016. Cite them Right: The Essential Referencing Guide.10th ed. New York: Palgrave Macmillan

Studios will provide specific recommended reading lists relevant to each project.

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