Learning from The Function of Style

This course will meet at 12 noon instead of 10 AM on Wednesday, September 2nd.

The springboard for this course is The Function of Style. It is structured as a dialogue between the historical ideas that have shaped the concept of style since the 19th century and contemporary architectural practice in order to provide a broad historical setting for the question of style. It will discuss a range of texts on style from the 19th and 20th centuries and the issues and challenges that these historical definitions raise in contemporary culture, particularly since the advent of the internet. In parallel, it will discuss exemplary buildings from the beginning of the 1990s to the present day in a comparative manner, grouped according to the activities they host, such as residing, working, learning, reading and research, in order to explicate the link between their similarities and differences. It will argue that by embracing everyday life as a raw material, architects can change the conventions of how buildings are assembled, grounding style, and the aesthetic experience of buildings, in the micro-politics of the everyday.

The texts will include Style in the Technical and Tectonic Arts, or Practical Aesthetics by Gottfried Semper, Problems of Style by Aloïs Riegl, Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture, a manifesto by De Stijl, Principles of Art History by Heinrich Wölfflin, The International Style by Hitchcock, Studies in Iconology by Erwin Panofsky, Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies by Rafael Moneo, The Practice of Everyday Life by Michel de Certeau, What is Philosophy? by Gilles Deleuze, Politics and Aesthetics by Jacques Rancière. It will discuss buildings by contemporary practices such as OMA, Preston Scott Cohen, SOM, FMA, Herzog & De Meuron, A-Lab, BIG, Christian Kerez, Renzo Piano, David Chipperfield, Mansilla and Tuñón and Zaha Hadid amongst others.

Each participant will be responsible for leading a discussion session during the semester. Each will also develop a pamphlet on their own analytic style-based inquiry into an aspect of the contemporary built environment using text, drawings or a combination. The aim of the pamphlet will be to question the concept of function through the chosen subject.