Rotterdam Study Abroad Seminar: Architecture, Urbanism, and Agriculture

This course is for students in the Rotterdam Study Abroad Program.

In order to stimulate the research on the Countryside, the course will investigate the relationship between architecture and agriculture, both in history and today. While there are strong historical links between those two disciplines or arts, it looks as if they had each followed two distinct (though parallel) trajectories since the onset of the industrial era, which accelerated the phenomenon of urbanization and gave birth to the notion and practice of urbanism. Nowadays, the simultaneous advent of peak oil and climate change strongly questions the sustainability of this divorce, giving rise to attempts at reconnecting food production and design, and reinventing both in the process.

The course, involving one or two sessions given by guest lecturers on the topic, will strive to understand the links between architecture and agriculture, the reasons for their progressive estrangement over the past 150 years, and explore the possibility of their reconnection. A particular attention will be paid to the nebulae of permaculture, agroecology, and their traditions, and to drawing architectural lessons from their alternative practices of design.

Students will be asked to make an individual research of a specific topic related to the theme, which they will present during our last session. The evaluation will rest on their active participation to the course (30%) and their final presentation (70%).

Required readings: All students should read in advance a book by Carolyn Steel: Hungry City: How Food Shapes Our Lives (Vintage, London, 2013).