Histories and Theories of Modern Architecture: Theorizing Space

That space is a fundamental category for thinking about architecture may appear self-evident. Yet concepts of space emerge quite late in the historiography of modern architecture. This seminar retraces concepts of space as they emerge and shift from the second half of the nineteenth century to the late twentieth century. In the writings of historians, architects, artists, and critics, space marks an unstable epistemological filter through which to interpret and analyze buildings, works of art, ruins, and public squares. If philosophical aesthetics since Kant had maintained that theorizations of space were an a priori feature of the human mind, the nineteenth century witnessed the rise of a more intensive psychological and formal interest in describing and theorizing spatial experience, one that both troubled and reoriented the Kantian tradition. Nineteenth-century readings include Gottfried Semper’s theorization of architecture as an art of enclosing space; theories of spatial empathy from German psychological aesthetics; and Alois Riegl’s conception of history as the unfolding of space conceptions. In the twentieth century we examine the emergence of space-time theories, vitalist conceptions of living space, geographical conceptions of social space, notions of acoustic and electronic space developed within media theory, and the geographically informed critique of space developed by Henri Lefebvre.
Taught by Craig Buckley Spring 2017
PH Area: 
Course Number: 
HSAR 739