Architecture, Science and Technology, XVIIIth Century-Present

Since the first industrial revolution, science and technology have constantly challenged architecture. Technology in particular has represented a powerful source of change for architecture. New materials and structural types have emerged, inducing dramatic changes in the definition of the architectural discipline. From iron construction to digital architecture, from Viollet-le-Duc\’s structural rationalism to Archigram\’s technological eclecticism and beyond, the course will study important episodes in this two centuries history.

The lectures will not only deal with the practical consequences of the intercourse between architecture, science and technology, like the development of concrete construction or the 20th century quest for three dimensional structures, but also with their cultural dimension. Theoretical issues, such as the relations between architectural aesthetics and mechanization or the influence exerted by the social sciences, from history to sociology, will be evoked. Science and technology have not only fostered changes in building techniques: they have shaped architectural culture.

Finally, a special attention will be devoted to contemporary problems such as the spectacular development of digital culture in architecture and the new importance taken by environmental questions. These problems gain a new clarity by being interpreted in an historical perspective.

In addition to attendance and readings, students will produce a research paper at the end of the semester on a topic related to the themes covered in the course.