Vadim Bass (European University at Saint Petersburg)


From 15:15
to 16:45
From 15:15
to 16:45

Course description
The main objective of the course is the analysis of architecture as a field of communicative interaction. The course examines various aspects of communication through the medium of architecture, "languages" of architecture, spatial means of implementation of political ideologies and the organization of specific lifestyles. The subject matter is both historic architecture and contemporary architectural practice. Along with the traditional issues of art history, the course will also address matters relating to social and cultural problems of architecture. The course is a series of lectures and seminars on topical subjects of architectural communication. Each topic includes a problem statement using broad range of architectural material, examination of key issues and some illustrative cases, and also discussion of selected texts. The introductory lecture will discuss approaches to the problem of architectural communication reflected in the most important texts of architectural theory – from Vitruvius to Post-Modernists.

Learning outcomes
The students are expected to be well-informed about some topical issues of architectural communication, about various aspects of communication, about the «languages» of architecture as well as the ways of expression of ideologies and social matters by spatial means. Using of a broad range of illustrations from the Antiquity to the present will result in making students aware of the communicative agenda of both historic and contemporary architecture.

Teaching and evaluation methods
Students have to attend the classes, take part in the seminars and discussions, and write the term paper. The requirements are:
- participation in the seminars and discussions and regular class attendance (40%);
- term paper: an essay (min. 5 pages) based on analysis of a selected subject of architectural communication (60%). The term papers are to be submitted by the last lecture class.


Course syllabus

Week 1. Introduction into the issue of architectural communication. Architectural theory from Vitruvius to Post-Modernism and the issue of communication in architecture. The basics of architectural analysis. Conceptualization of spatial categories in architectural thought and practice of Modernism and instrumentalization of psychology. The criticism of modern architecture and topicalization of the communicative agenda. Western architectural theory on the meaning in architecture.
Reading (see the Course Reader):
Huxtable A. L. Architecture Criticism. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 134, No. 4 (Dec., 1990). Pp. 461-464.
Whyte W. How Do Buildings Mean? Some Issues of Interpretation in the History of Architecture. History and Theory 45 (May 2006). Pp. 153–177.
Further reading:
Hershberger R. G. Architecture and Meaning. The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Vol. 4, No. 4, Special Issue: The Environment and the Aesthetic Quality of Life (Oct., 1970). Pp. 37-55.
Schwarzer M. The Emergence of Architectural Space: August Schmarsow’s Theory of “Raumgestaltung”. Assemblage, 1991, № 15. Pp. 48–61.
Schwarzer M. Ontology and Representation in Karl Bötticher’s Theory of Tectonics. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 1993, Vol. 52, № 3. Pp. 267–280.
Zucker P. The Paradox of Architectural Theories at the Beginning of the “Modern Movement”. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 1951, Vol. 10, № 3. Pp. 8–14.

Week 2. Time message in architecture
Piranesi and imagining the antiquity in the 18th century. Authenticity as a value: the ideology of architectural restoration of the mid-19th – the beginning of the 21st Century. From Viollet-le-Duc to the Venice Charter. The problem of the introduction of modern architecture within the historical context. The historic evolution of images of architecture of the past, present and future in the 20th Century.
Riegl A. The modern cult of monuments: its essence and its development. In: Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage. LA: Getty Conservation Institute, 1996.
Further reading:
Clarke G. Vitruvian Paradigms. Papers of the British School at Rome. 2002, Vol. 70. Pp. 319–346.
Dal Co F, Groen F.R. On History and Architecture: An Interview with Francesco Dal Co. Perspecta, Vol. 23 (1987). Pp. 6-23.
Dunn N. et al. A visual history of the future. 2014. See:
Payne A. Vasari, Architecture, and the Origins of Historicizing Art. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 40 (Autumn, 2001). Pp. 51-76.
Scully V. The Nature of the Classical in Art. In: Scully V. Modern Architecture and Other Essays. Princeton; Oxford, 2003. Pp. 88-105.

Week 3. Architecture and consumerism: the architecture of Interbellum
Art deco and the problem of social adequacy of architecture: hedonism, cultural tolerance, mass production. Artistic and social roots of art deco. Industrial and print design of the era. Architecture and lifestyle of Interbellum: cinema, transport, and exhibitions. Architecture of consumption and consumption of architecture. Art deco architecture in America and Europe: an overview. Corporate architecture and its images in popular culture – from "Metropolis" to "Gotham City."
Art Deco by Bevis Hillier – book review by John F. Moffitt, Art Journal, Vol. 28, No. 3 (Spring, 1969)
Striner R. Art Deco: Polemics and Synthesis. Winterthur Portfolio, Vol. 25, No. 1 (Spring, 1990). Pp. 21-34.

Weeks 4 and 5. Political control and violence in architecture: the Classical tradition in European countries and in Russia of the totalitarian period
Political practice and architectural decorations of the regime in the Soviet Union, Italy and Germany: problem statement. "Totalitarian" (Soviet, Italian, German) vs "democratic" (American, French, Nordic) Neoclassicism: the question of the mechanisms of communication of the visual and political. The roots of the mid-20th Century Neoclassicism. Narrative tools in Soviet architectural decoration of the 1930s: "old-fashioned" mimetic conventions for a "modern" society. Architecture in Italy of the 1920s-40s: languages of an elegant totalitarianism. Design, propaganda, visual images of power: USSR vs. Italy. Control, political violence and the freedom of the architect: the problem of Mannerism in the 20th Century.
Ghirardo D. Architects, Exhibitions, and the Politics of Culture in Fascist Italy. Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Feb., 1992). Pp. 67-75.
Ghirardo D. Italian Architects and Fascist Politics: An Evaluation of the Rationalist's Role in Regime Building. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 39, No. 2 (May, 1980). Pp. 109-127.
Miller Lane B. Architects in Power: Politics and Ideology in the Work of Ernst May and Albert Speer. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. 17, No. 1, The Evidence of Art: Images and Meaning in History (Summer, 1986). Pp. 283-310.
Further reading:
Anderson S. The Legacy of German Neoclassicism and Biedermeier: Behrens, Tessenow, Loos, and Mies. Assemblage, No. 15. (Aug., 1991). Pp. 62-87.
Antliff M. Fascism, Modernism, and Modernity. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 84, No. 1 (Mar., 2002). Pp. 148-169.
Bowler A. Politics as Art: Italian Futurism and Fascism. Theory and Society, Vol. 20, No. 6 (Dec., 1991). Pp. 763-794.
Cooke C. Socialist Realist Architecture: theory and practice. In: Art of the Soviets. Painting, sculpture and architecture in a one-party state, 1917–1992. Ed. by Bown, Matthew Cullerne, and Taylor, Brandon. Manchester Univ. Press, 1993. Pp. 86–105.
Doordan D. R. The Political Content in Italian Architecture during the Fascist Era. Art Journal, Vol. 43, No. 2, Revising Modernist History: The Architecture of the 1920s and 1930s (Summer, 1983). Pp. 121-131.
Kirk T. Framing St. Peter's: Urban Planning in Fascist Rome. The Art Bulletin, Vol. 88, No. 4 (Dec., 2006). Pp. 756-776.
Michaud E., Fox C. National Socialist Architecture as an Acceleration of Time. Critical Inquiry, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Winter, 1993). Pp. 220-233.
Millon H. The Role of History of Architecture in Fascist Italy. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 24, No. 1 (Mar., 1965). Pp. 53-59.
Nelis J. Italian Fascism and Culture: Some Notes on Investigation. Historia Actual Online, # 9 (2006). Pp. 141-151.

Week 6. Architecture and religion in the 20th Century
Churches of the Interwar period: expressionist "ducks" and reinforced concrete "decorated sheds". Catholicism after WW II and the architecture of church: visual formulas of spiritual renovation. Religiosity of the architect and the problem of the customer in Europe and the United States in the 20th Century. Churches designed by Le Corbusier. The space of religious experience and the problem of discipline of the viewer: the pragmatics of an unbeautiful church in the post-war architecture. The visual metaphors in religious architecture: United States, Europe, Latin America, and the Far East. Architecture of mega-churches and issues of spatial impact on the viewer. Architecture as design in religious architecture at the turn of the Centuries. The post-Soviet religious architecture.
Alford J. Creativity and Intelligibility in Le Corbusier's Chapel at Ronchamp. The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 16, No. 3 (Mar., 1958). Pp. 293-305.
Johnson E. J. A Drawing of the Cathedral of Albi by Louis I. Kahn. Gesta, Vol. 25, No. 1, Essays in Honor of Whitney Snow Stoddard (1986). Pp. 159-165.
Further reading:
Harwood E. Liturgy and Architecture: The Development of the Centralised Eucharistic Space. Twentieth Century Architecture, No. 3, The Twentieth Century Church (1998). Pp. 50-74
Tselos D. Romantic Expressionism and the Modern Church. Parnassus, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Jan., 1941). Pp. 12-16.

Week 7 – midterm break

Weeks 8 and 9. Memorial architecture in the 20th – 21th Century: the alienation and the reframing of a tragedy
Architecture as a tool of memory: towards stating the problem in European architectural and cultural theory. Classical architecture as a decoration of tragedy. Amphitheater and Panopticon in the architecture of the Enlightenment: the building as an instrument of violence and control. Claude Nicolas Ledoux and the change of viewpoint: the viewer vs. actor. De-staging of the tragedy in the 19th Century. Style as a means of removing the viewer's affections in World War I monuments. "Narrative" monuments of World War I: the documentality of mass things and anonymous mass hero. Reframing of tragedy in the middle of the 20th Century: "the death of the chorus." Soviet monuments of the wartime period: the search for language. The architecture of post-war monuments – from the formation of conventions to their destruction. Case study: Architectural commemoration of the Siege of Leningrad. Memorial architecture after the Holocaust. Forcing the viewer's experience in contemporary memorial architecture.
Johnson E. What Remains of Man – Aldo Rossi's Modena Cemetery. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, 1982, Vol. 41, № 1. Pp. 38–54.
Schnapp J. The Monument without Style (On the Hundredth Anniversary of Giuseppe Terragni's Birth). Grey Room, 2004, № 18. Pp. 5–25.
Young J. Daniel Libeskind's Jewish Museum in Berlin: The Uncanny Arts of Memorial Architecture. Jewish Social Studies, 2000, New Series, Vol. 6, № 2. Pp. 1–23.
Further reading:
Codello R., Dezio J. Carlo Scarpa's "Monument to the Partisan Woman". Journal of Historic Preservation, History, Theory, and Criticism, 2009,Vol. 6, № 1. Pp. 38–48.
Ghirardo D. The Blue of Aldo Rossi's Sky. AA Files, 2015, № 70. Pp. 159–172.
Goldman N. Israeli Holocaust Memorial Strategies at Yad Vashem: From Silence to Recognition. Art Journal, 2006, Vol. 65, №. 2. Pp. 102–122.
Jarzombek M. The Psychologizing of Modernity: Art, Architecture, and History. Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
Koselleck R. The practice of conceptual history: timing history, spacing concepts. Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2002.
Marcuse H. Holocaust Memorials: The Emergence of a Genre. The American Historical Review, 2010, Vol. 115, № 1. Pp. 53–89.
Nesbitt K. The Sublime and Modern Architecture: Unmasking (An Aesthetic of) Abstraction. New Literary History, 1995, Vol. 26, № 1, Narratives of Literature, the Arts, and Memory. Pp. 95–110.
Young J. At memory's edge: After-images of the Holocaust in contemporary art and architecture. New Haven; London: Yale Univ. Press, 2000.
Young J. Berlin's Holocaust Memorial: A Report to the Bundestag Committee on Media and Culture 3 March 1999. German Politics & Society, 1999, Vol. 17, No. 3 (52), Special Issue: The Dilemmas of Commemoration: German Debates on the Holocaust in the 1990s. Pp. 54–70.

Week 10. The human body, the space, and the size in the 20th Century architecture
Corporeality of architecture and the architecture of body in the 20th Century. From ancient arena to the stadium of early 21st Century. The architecture of Olympic Games in 1912–2014.
Images of ancient architecture in the treatises and their effect on the actual architectural practice: the amphitheater and thermae. Architecture of the Grandiosity: buildings of the antiquity, the Roman basilica, the Gothic cathedral, inventions of Piranesi, megalomania of French visionary architects, exhibition buildings of the 19th Century, the megastructures of the 20th Century. Architectural graphics of the mid-20th Century and the questions of representation of space: architecture for the masses. The city for the moving viewer from the early Modernism to “Learning from Las Vegas”. Reconstruction projects in Moscow and Berlin in the 1930s.
Kracauer S. The Mass Ornament. In: The Mass Ornament. Weimar Essays. Engl. transl. by T. Y. Levin. Cambr.; London, 1995. Pp. 75-88.
Further reading:
Collins G. R. The Visionary Tradition in Architecture. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 26, No. 8 (Apr., 1968). Pp. 310-321.
Vogt A. M. Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and Etienne Louis Boullée's Drafts of 1784. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Mar., 1984). Pp. 60-64.

Week 11. Architecture and the national identity
National identity and national representation in architecture of the 19th–20th Centuries: Russia, Germany, Finland, the countries of Eastern Europe. Visual tools of the formation of national identity and the issue of sources: from historic architecture to mythology. National and Imperial in Russian architecture and architectural discourse. Finnish national romanticism in Russia: the language of art and the emancipation of form from political and social implications. The invention of the national architecture from "top" and "bottom". Architecture as a political tool at the outskirts of the empire. The 20th Century: the classical as national. Imperial implications in Soviet architecture: Rome vs Russia of Nicholas I. The issue of the national in modern architecture.
Borisova E. Breaking with Classicism. Historicism in nineteenth-century Russia. In: Uses of Tradition in Russian & Soviet Architecture. Architectural Design Profile 68. 1987. Pp. 17–23.
Wortman R. The ‘Russian Style’ in Church Architecture as Imperial Symbol after 1881. In: Architectures of Russian Identity: 1500 to present. Ed. by J. Cracraft and D. Rowland. Cornell Univ. Press, 2003. Pp. 101–116.
Further reading:
Hays K. M. Tessenow's Architecture as National Allegory: Critique of Capitalism or Protofascism? Assemblage, No. 8 (Feb., 1989). Pp. 104-123.
Miller Lane B. National Romanticism in Modern German Architecture. Studies in the History of Art, Vol. 29, Symposium Papers XIII: Nationalism in the Visual
Arts (1991). Pp. 110-147.
National Romanticism and Modern Architecture in Germany and the Scandinavian Countries by Barbara Miller Lane – book review by H. F. Mallgrave. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians, Vol. 60 No. 2 (Jun., 2001). Pp. 222-223.

Week 12. Architecture of everyday life, architecture for a mass society
Mass housing in the 20th Century. Existenzminimum and housing after World War I. The architecture of postwar brutalism. Housing policy in the Soviet Union, the U.S.A., and European countries. Modern projects of low-cost, social and prefabricated housing. Expensive architecture for a poor society: Le Corbusier, Loius Kahn. Social-oriented vs. “technocrat” approach in contemporary architecture: Alejandro Aravena and 2016 Venice Biennale. Ethics of "poor" architecture and environmental rhetoric.
Scully V. Louis Kahn and the Ruins of Rome. In: Scully V. Modern Architecture and Other Essays. Princeton; Oxford, 2003. Pp. 298-319.
Further reading:
Dobbins M. et al. The Achievement of Finnish Architecture: Social Responsibility and Architectural Integrity. Perspecta, Vol. 8 (1963). Pp. 3-36.

Week 13. Final discussion: architecture as a field of social communication.
Paper discussion and readings.


Cameron D, Markus Th.A. The Words Between the Spaces. Buildings and Language. London, 2002.
Jencks Ch. The Language of Post-Modern Architecture. NY, 1977.
Johnson P.-A. The Theory of Architecture. Concepts, Themes, and Practices. London, 1994.
Lawson B. The Language of Space. London, 2001.
Summerson J. The Classical Language of Architecture. London, 1963.
Unwin S. Analysing Architecture. London; NY, 1997.
Venturi R., Scott Brown D. Architecture as Signs and Systems. For a Mannerist Time. Cambridge; London, 2004.

Supplementary reading
Architectures of Russian Identity: 1500 to present. Ed. by J. Cracraft and D. Rowland. Cornell Univ. Press, 2003.
Architecture Theory since 1968. Ed. by K. Michael Hays. Cambr. (Mass.); London, 1998.
Kruft H.-W. A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present. NY, 1994.
Mallgrave H. Modern Architectural Theory: A Historical Survey, 1673–1968. Cambridge, 2005.
Norberg-Schulz Ch. Genius Loci, Towards a Phenomenology of Architecture. NY, 1980.
Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. Ed. by N. Leach. London, NY: 1997.
Zevi B. Architecture as Space. How to Look at Architecture. 1957.


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