London’s Built Environment: The Ways of the Architect presents a history of London’s built environment by examining the changing attitudes and practices of British architects from the mid-17th to the mid-20th century. It explores the ways in which London’s architectural culture was understood and produced through its architects’ diverse trainings, evolving modes of design and notions of style, built and theoretical work. It does so by identifying four pairs of architects and architectural thinkers and by thematically investigating their respective practices and conflicting professional perspectives: Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor; Robert Adam and William Chambers; William Morris and John Ruskin; Alison and Peter Smithson and Denys Lasdun. As such, the course pinpoints four paradigm-shifting moments in the production of London’s built environment, allowing at the same time for a comprehensive and continuous narrative of British architectural history, including the Palladian Revivals, late-18th century cultures of ruins and the Picturesque, the impact of industrialisation in the 19th century and post-war reconstructions.
Each of the four thematic chapters of the course involves two seminars and a site visit. The syllabus is built around the critical understanding of buildings and the close reading of key primary and secondary texts. The course ultimately aims at providing a comprehensive overview of the development and evolution of the profession of the architect and its relationship with the social, political and economic circumstances of British history.
Semesters: Fall, Spring