Perspectives in History and Theory in Architecture - Architecture and Natural Disaster

  • 2 units

  • Semester(s): spring

FACULTY: Jason Nguyen

We are living in perilous times, with the threat of wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts occurring with increased frequency. This seminar examines architecture, landscape, and urbanism when confronted with natural disaster. How has the risk of fires, earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and extreme hot and cold impacted the ways that architects and designers understand the built environment in theory and practice? What roles have architecture, landscape, and urbanism played in embodying and even exacerbating these catastrophes? How has the fear of destruction altered our conceptions of nature and culture, including their relationship to politics, science, philosophy, and religion?

We begin by questioning the relationship between nature, culture, and disaster across a range of disciplines, periods, and geographies. From here, the remaining sessions are organized according to different disasters and their relationship with architecture, landscape, and urbanism. The aim of the seminar is to illustrate how concepts of nature and culture (of which architecture is a part) are intimately linked to the ecological realities of their time. Similarly, the way we respond to nature—including the architectural tactics we employ for protection—reveals a great deal about our own cultural reality. The seminar ends by speculating on the current environmental crisis, including the roles played by architecture, technology, and globalization.

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