Starting February 28 is a free online course from the Harvard Graduate School of Design via the edX learning platform. Titled The Architectural Imagination, the course aims to teach participants about the cultural backdrop to architecture and how to “read” architecture “as a cultural expression as well as a technical achievement.”
The Architectural Imagination lasts ten weeks (though is self-paced) and requires roughly three to five hours of engagement per week. Guiding you through the course will be its creators: K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory and associate dean for academic affairs, Harvard University; Erika Naginski, professor of architectural history and director of graduate studies, Harvard University; and Antoine Picon, G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology and technology director of research, Harvard University.
A statement on Harvard GSD’s website reads:
Architecture is one of the most complexly negotiated and globally recognized cultural practices, both as an academic subject and a professional career. Its production involves all of the technical, aesthetic, political, and economic issues at play within a given society. Over the course of ten modules, we’ll examine some of history’s most important examples that show how architecture engages, mediates, and expresses a culture’s complex aspirations.
Landmark buildings, selected for their cultural and architectural important from various historical contexts, will be used as a source for analytical material. Hands-on exercises such as drawing and modeling will also take place to bring students “close to the work of an actual architect or historian.” The course’s syllabus has broken down into three parts:
Part I: Form and History
Module 1: The Architectural Imagination: An Introduction
Module 2: Reading Architecture: Column and Wall
Module 3: Hegel and Architectural History
Module 4: Aldo Rossi and Typology
Part II: The Technology Effect
Module 5: The Crystal Palace: Infrastructure and Detail
Module 6: The Dialectics of Glass and Steel
Module 7: Technology Tamed: Le Corbusier’s Machines for Living
Part III: Representation and Context
Module 8: Drawing Utopia: Visionary Architecture of the 18th Century
Module 9: The Pompidou Center in the City of Paris
Module 10: Presenting the Unrepresentable
The edX platform was founded by Harvard and MIT in 2012. Now the free online education service offers up a wide variety of courses including some from ETH Zurich, and the University of Tokyo. To learn more about this course, visit its website here.