Advanced Topics in Theory

The module examines selected architecture practices and projects in the period between 1966 and 1983. The hypothesis of the class is this: The historical avantgardes in architecture (expressionism, productivism, constructivism, etc.) were attacks on the core categories of traditional architecture – the organic, unified work of architecture, the isolated creative individual (i.e. autonomy) – in an effort to produce an engaged, critical practice. What might be called the neoavantgarde, beginning in the 1960s and continuing at least through 1983, attempted to continue the avantgarde project but now faced an ever more powerful culture industry. The autonomy of architecture came to be seen paradoxically as a mode of resistance and a way of continuing a critical practice. But the pursuit of autonomy stood against the radically altered historical circumstances of architectural production after 1960 and the complete disintegration of the aesthetic object by the culture industry. The neoavantgarde attempted to engage a context that seemed to refuse architecture\’s former cultural vocation, if not architecture itself. The course will see that struggle as the precondition for current architectural practice. The course will look closely at the practices of Aldo Rossi, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk, and Bernard Tschumi up until 1983. The theoretical work of Adorno, Barthes, Lacan, and others will be invoked to help us interpret this material.