822181 SE Architectural Criticism

winter semester 2021/2022 | Last update: 10.01.2022 Place course on memo list
SE Architectural Criticism
SE 2

During the seminar, students will become familiar with the reasons, methods and tools of architecture criticism, while developing an articulated and critical understanding of a selected group of contemporary architectural practices, whose works and theories will be explained and debated during the semester. 

Contemporary Practices III


Nowadays, everyone has free and immediate access to architectural works, just as everyone has the free and immediate possibility to say or write something about them. Digital platforms, websites, webzines, blogs, curated archives, Pinterest boards, Instagram profiles, Facebook groups, YouTube channels, Apps, Videogames… all these and other tools have expanded the quantity, speed and reach of information about built and unbuilt projects as never before. At the same time, though, these tools seem to make projects ungraspable, since the more architecture colonizes the web, the more narratives can be built around it, to the point that everything and its opposite can be said about the same work. But is it so? At a closer look, the vast majority of project descriptions found on the web are reworkings of their firms’ press releases, which end up defining the words and images by means of which their works are understood. And so, the possibility for a multiplicity of viewpoints to coexist on the web, is denied by the resilience of few, all-positive and superficial mainstream narratives. As a consequence, architectural knowledge is exchanged for information, judgment leaves the place to opinion, and projects become commodities for visual consumption, whose relevance is established by the number of likes: criticism disappears, theory becomes advertising. The seminar intends to address this problematic condition, providing students with knowledge and conceptual tools that can help them better understand, evaluate and criticise contemporary architecture. Above all, the seminar intends to keep faith to the idea that criticism is first of all a public service.

The seminar will be based on:


a) lectures by the instructor;

b) oral presentations by the students;

c) workshop activity.


Students will work in groups of two. Each group will choose one contemporary architectural practice among a list provided by the instructor. Throughout the semester, the groups will study the work of their practices by means of a series of specific exercises whose outcomes will be presented each meeting in front of the class.

The final evaluation will be based on the following criteria:

a) presence;

b) interaction with the class;

c) quality of weekly presentations;

Will be discussed in the first lesson.

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