Architecture and Environment: Entangled Histories Seminar

Spring 2019

Instructor: Irene Cheng

Since the nineteenth century, architects and architectural theorists have wrestled with the entangled relationship between the human and natural worlds, between buildings and environments. This seminar explores the long history of these ideas about architecture and environment, focusing on the critical period from 1850 to 1915, when cataclysmic processes of modernization, imperialism, urbanization, and capitalist industrialization compelled critical thought about humans’ relationship to the natural world–encompassing plants, animals, raw and processed materials, and extractive and urban landscapes.

The seminar has two parts: In the first half of the semester, we explore how early environmental-architectural thinkers theorized the reciprocal influences of humans on the environment, and vice versa. We also examine theoretical frameworks for studying architecture through an environmental lens. During the second half of the semester, we undertake a collective research project into the entangled material histories of modern buildings – tracing the politics of how wood, glass, concrete and iron are transformed and assembled into architecture. This research culminated in a group exhibition incorporating historical narratives, video, and diagrams.

Architecture and Environment seminar, Spring 2019:

Friya Cao, Marina De Oliveira, Pearce Gillespie, Daniela Granillo, Rabab Kazem, Cassady Kenney, Sam Kilpatrick, Minju Kim, Jingyi (Emma) Luo, Eric Martina, Taamara Rath, Kee Ryu,Jae Seo