The Art of Asking Questions in Architecture

This course offers an introduction into European architectural theory and history. Any introduction into this wealth of architectural theory cannot be encyclopedic by its very nature, even if limited to Western discourse alone. This class therefore will avoid a tiresome chronological succession of theories and histories in architecture. We will start each session with a question or a group of related questions, followed by one or several case studies within the field. Such simple but by no means easy  questions are: What is theory in architecture and how does it relate itself to other disciplines? Who “invented” architectural theory and why? Who is “doing” theory? Why is architecture and theory a problem related to language? Why gained some texts “credibility” in the realm of architectural thinking and others failed to do so? Why do some architects write whereas others refuse to do so? Is architectural theory an exclusive matter of writing alone? Do I need one or more theories to do better design, or to better comprehend architectural reality? Does architectural theory offer rules or at least some methods how to proceed in practice? Does theory help to distinguish “good” from “bad” architecture? Or is this distinction as we hear sometimes a matter of “subjective” judgement?

The main intention is to take questioning as a serious starting point for a closer investigation into the complex problems of architecture and its theories.

The aim of this module is:  

1. to gain an insight into the history of architectural theoretical thinking, authors, related fields and neighboring disciplines.

2. to learn a critical comprehension reflection and discussion based on arguments and the ability to analyze architectural objects within (and beyond) the domain of architecture.

3. to induce curiosity for research, based on relevant sources and topics which lets you develop your own arguments, using appropriate speech and writing forms.