80 403 Architecture is Space, Space is Architecture


Foundation level.

Course content

In contemporary architecture, space is a fundamental notion as well as a colossal alibi. There is no agreement on what this term designates; to exemplify, while for Peter Eisenman it constitutes the realm bounded by elements of architectural design, for Rem Koolhaas it is the most important mystification of the Modern Movement. Space is, therefore, manifold. It can be physical and objective but also cultural, virtual and intangible. It has not only many dimensions and parallel architectures but also diverse conceptualisations. During the twentieth century, space has informed the production and the interpretation of the built environment. Its popularity in architectural parlance exposes its essential yet diffuse and malleable quality.

Through the reading, contextualisation, analysis and evaluation of key texts, this course explores different versions of space in relation to architecture. This narrative creates a chronological axis that departs by identifying, in nineteenth century theories of architecture and philosophy, the nascent preoccupation with the effects of architecture rather than with its material and volumetric presence. Progressing in time, this relation is screened through aspects of architecture that defy function, stasis and deterministic design. The urban experience and its practices, the production of spatial circumstances, philosophical and ecological questions on global conditions and the pervasiveness of virtual realms of information suggest that space is a category closer to acting and doing rather than to prescribing or stating. In this manner, space turns into dynamic flow embedded in the architectural object yet not exclusively dependent on it – a way of looking and inhabiting.

Week 1: Introduction and screening of I… You… He… She… (Chantal Akerman, 1974)
Week 2: Interiority and Exteriority, Space and Enclosure
Week 3: Object Meets Space
Week 4: Space, the City and Experience
Week 5: Practices of Space, Producing Space
Week 6: Public and Social Space
Week 7: Architectural Philosophy
Week 8: Ecology, the Space of the World
Week 9: Generic and Global Space
Week 10: Spaces of Information and Noopolitics

Learning outcomes

Students successfully completing the course will be in a position to consider different ways of differentiating space from architecture and interpreting aspects of their interrelation. The aim is to critically apply these conceptual considerations to the understanding of architecture, inside and outside of its traditional boundaries. The course introduces relevant architectural and critical theories and thinkers.

Working and learning activities

Each session will be composed of a lecture, a student presentation and a discussion. The first component will historically contextualise the topic, the second will relate conceptual aspects extracted from a designated text (marked with ¤ in the specific bibliography) to specific cases of architecture, and the third will critically evaluate these elaborations.

Student Presentations
In addition to the weekly readings and seminar discussion preparation, individual and/or small groups of students will be asked to research and present a case study related to one of the sessions. Topics and groups will be allocated in the introductory seminar.

Each student must submit an essay on an appropriate topic related to the course, and usually in relation to one of the seminar topics. Essays should be 4,000-5,000 words in length, typed or word-processed, and appropriately illustrated, footnoted and referenced with a full bibliography (Chicago Style 16ed).
Borden, Iain, and Katerina Rüedi. The Dissertation: an Architecture Student’s Handbook. London: Architectural Press, 2005.

Each student taking the course should schedule a meeting with Christian Parreno for a tutorial to discuss the theme and progress of the essay.

Professor in charge

PhD Candidate Christian Parreno

Mandatory work requirements

Work requirements Number Number of approved Mandatory presence Comment
Project 1

Essay, as specified in the course methodology.

Oral examination 1

As well as participation in class.

Counselling meeting 1


Assessment Date Duration Grade scale Oral examination
Annen vurderingsform, definer i kommentarfelt Pass / Fail

Participation in class: 15%
Presentation: 15%
Essay: 60%
External critique of essay: 10%

Reading lists / teaching materials

General bibliography

Berman, Marshall. “Introduction.” In All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: the Experience of Modernity. London: Verso, 1982.

Crang, Mike, and Nigel Thrift, eds. “Introduction.” In Thinking Space. London: Routledge, 2000.

Franck, Karen A., and Bianca Lepori. “From the Body.” In Architecture From the Inside Out: From the Body, the Senses, the Site, and the Community. Chichester: Wiley Academy, 2007.

Forty, Adrian. “Space.” In Words and Buildings. A Vocabulary of Modern Architecture. London: Thames & Hudson, 2000.

Pile, Steve. The Body and the City. Psychoanalysis, Space and Subjectivity. London: Routledge, 1996.

Schirmbeck, Egon, Till Boettger and Christian Hanke, Christian. Architecture and Space: Design Concepts in the 20th Century. Berlin: DOM publishers, 2012.

Specific bibliography

Benjamin, Andrew. “Introduction.” In Architectural Philosophy. London: The Athlone Press, 2000.

Castells, Manuel. “An Introduction to the Information Age.” In The Blackwell City Reader. Edited by Gary Bridge and Sophie Watson. Oxford: Blackwell, 1998.

Debord, Guy. “Theory of the Dérive”. Accessed 25 April 2014. http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/2.derive.htm

Giedion, Sigfried. “The New Space Conception: Space-Time” and “The Research into Space: Cubism.” In Space, Time and Architecture. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1969.

Habermas, Jürgen. “Social Structures of the Public Sphere.” In The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere: an Inquiry into a Category of Bourgeois Society. Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989.

Heidegger, Martin. "Part Two." Chapter 6, §67-71. In The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics. Bloomington: University Indiana Press, 1995.

Heidegger, Martin. “The Thing.” In Poetry, Language, Thought. New York: Harper Perennial, 2001.

Kierkegaard, Søren. “Equilibrium between the Aesthetic and the Ethical in the Development of Personality.” In Either/Or. London: Penguin Classics, 1992.

Koolhaas, Rem. “The Generic City.” In S, M, L, XL. New York: Monacelli Press, 1995.

Lefebvre, Henri. “Notes on the New Town.” In Introduction to Modernity: Twelve Preludes. London: Verso, 1995.

Margulies, Ivonne. Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday. Durham: Duke University Press, 1996.

¤ Further references will be provided for each week.