Elective at semester(s) 5, 7, ECTS: 3
“Architecture is the art of reconciliation between ourselves and the world, and this mediation takes place through the senses.”
Juhani Pallasmaa. The eyes of the skin.
The course focuses on the modern condition of digital habitation and tangible experiences, especially after the experiences with the global pandemic, where the limits and distances of physical interaction have changed. Through theoretical analyzes of architectural works, a reflection is attempted around the social, cultural, philosophical and physical transformations, leading towards connections of the current architectural imaginary with remaining elements of the past. At the same time, the new challenge of digitalism creates tensions, contradictions and opportunities in its blending with architecture, intervening and multiplying the dimensions of space and time, creating new topological relationships, in response to the experience of the modern COVID-19 pandemic. The efficiency of the architectural expression and the multiple reality of the space - augmented, virtual and mixed - in combination with the tangible state, have at the moment the possibility to be transformed into tools of situated knowledge, in innovative design methods, from appropriations and collective transformations, in a narrative tour of the architectural movements of the 20th century.
The aim of the course is to understand the architectural theories of the 20th century and the movements that triggered them through the influences, differences and objections of the dominant imagery of each era. The importance of the historical continuity or the cracks that history presents, contributes to the greater understanding of the architectural manipulations and theoretical connections of the practice with the wider context. Technological performativities, controversies, and cultural differences can be turned into tools of consideration and in extension can be transformed into design through an interdisciplinary approach and critical thinking. An extended dialogue emerges between spatiality - temporality and physicality in this narrative genealogy of excerpts from the architectural components of the 20th and 21st century.
The history of Western civilization thought is the history of the body; the history of managing the materiality that dominates through human existence. Within the concept of the body, an amalgam of fragmented identities, stored memories, expectations, desires and imageries are concentrated. In the modern age, where the unbridled dominance of a model of crisis, in a context of fluid reality and the sense of super-individualism are the basis of our nomadic and fragmented lives, the theoretical discussion on bodies revises the universal formulations and catalyzes the entrenched notion of universality, removing the collective imaginary from the traditional spatiotemporal imprinting and prototyping of a single and absolutist truth.
The theoretical issues that are developed, are organized around three major themes, aiming to clarify the landscape of theory and research in the architectural thought of the 20th and 21st century. The first major theme concerns the critical analyzes of modernism and the modern imaginary, the movements of normalization and homogenization of European societies. The second cycle includes the postmodern reaction, the situational condition, the deconstruction movement, while the third approach includes the feminist and the post-feminist perspectives, post-colonial studies and the post-humanism thinking.
The question of the body is applied with a transcendental character, in almost all spectrums of human thought. Otherness, complexity, interconnectedness require a different approach, as we go through an era in which new media are available to exercise unprecedented control over physical bodies in order to transform, improve, renew and even transform them. However, this is a period where knowledge and theoretical thinking are strongly expressed and fed back into what bodies are, what they are made of, where their boundaries are set and which bodies can continue to be challenged radically or partially (as the discourses of Butler, Spivak, Halberstam, Preciado present). In this executive relationship with materiality, the notion of the body emerges again as a powerful tool of collective appropriation and de-subjectification, through tensions, contradictions and opportunities presented in the experienced merging of the digital and physical worlds.
Robotic tail, Arque. Keio School of Media Design, May 2019
The structure of the course is divided into two distinct but cooperating parts. The theoretical input of the course consists of lectures and discussions on the narrative contents, in order to understand the importance of the relationship between thought movements and architectural design methodologies. Priority will be given to issues related to the contribution of philosophy through the international contemporary literature, to the depiction of intangible conditions, dynamics and mutating intensities in two-dimensional space, to the multiple scales of bodies and times, to the demystifications of modern spaces and analogues of the technology.
In the practical part, the design experience of the space is sought, in the acquaintance through the dimension of the body and the tangible feeling. Students are invited to experiment and search for concepts, representations and new bodies as they delve into the experiments and views of the modern age. Personal experience, experiential physical wandering and conceptual leaps through the use of chimerical metaphorical thinking are the tools for creating and delivering new design methodologies.
The course is articulated in two exercises during the semester:
Students are asked to search for and select three representative texts on the theoretical components of the course and to develop their own critical summary on the topics that they have chosen. In this first phase, they will have to isolate theoretical relationships between thought and built environment as opposed to manifesto and architectural avant-garde texts, creating their own understanding and mapping of the historical environment through words, diagrams, shapes that define new fields of relationships.
In the second exercise, students will have to distinguish five different works of architects of the last twenty years (competitions and built works of the 21st century) and first analyze the theoretical topological relationships that arise with the modern theoretical framework of thought. They are then asked to intervene in these projects in an inventive way, creating multiple mutations of space while changing the original theoretical background. This evolutionary process can include texts, drawings, three-dimensional representations, parametric compositions, interactive options or any other medium that supports the complexity of the dynamic mutation, combining the first and second exercises.
Both the first and the second exercise could be developed in group. The criteria to be considered for evaluation are the active participation, the responsiveness to the course objectives, the visual ability and a critical manifestation.
Aguilar García Teresa (2013) Cuerpos sin límites. Transgresiones carnales en el arte, Casimiro Libros
Barthes Roland (2012) El grado cero de la escritura, Siglo XXI
Bauman Zygmunt,(2006) Vida líquida, Planeta
Butler Judith (2006) El género en disputa, Paidós
Davis Angela (2005), Mujeres, raza y clase, Akal
Deleuze Gilles y Guattari Félix (1988)  Mil Mesetas. Capitalismo y esquizofrenia, Pretextos
Freud Sigmund (2010) El malestar en la cultura, trad. Carlos Gómez, Alianza
Foucault Micheal (1966) Conferencia “El cuerpo utópico”, en el libro El cuerpo utópico. Las Heterotopías, de reciente aparición, Nueva Visión
Halberstam Jack Judith, (2008) Masculinidad femenina, Egales
Nancy Jean-Luc (2010) Corpus, Arena
Pallasmaa Juhani (2014) La imagen corpórea. Imaginación e imaginario en la arquitectura, Gustavo Gil
Spivak Gayarti Chakravorti, (1998) Puede hablar el sujeto subalterno? colección de textos en la revista Ortis Tertrus, III www.orbistertius.unlp.edu.ar/numeros/numero-6/traduccion/spivak
Wittig Monique (1992)  El pensamiento heterosexual y otros ensayos, Egales