UnBuilt and FarOut:
Experiments in Architecture since 1945
Wednesday 2 – 3:50, Faculty Center
CalArts - School of Critical Studies
Instructor: Ken Ehrlich
This class will look at a broad range of design groups and experiments in architecture since 1945. We will consider unbuilt, rigorously designed architecture and pay particular attention to practitioners who sought to expand architectural practice beyond a purely functional or visual form. This course traces the evolution of architectural representation from drawing to film, performance and media and ultimately to three-dimensional modeling and digital representation. Particular focus will be given to groups that were intent on experimenting with ideas of community, authorship, and urbanism and those that consider a social role for the architect or designer.
This class is specifically designed to introduce students to basic architectural concepts and vocabulary as well as understand the transitions in architecture from Modernism through Post-modernism and beyond. We will also investigate of historical and contemporary design collaboratives as well as critically evaluate architectural and urban planning projects. Each week we will look at the work of an architect or designer and reflect on the methods and strategies employed to generate models, designs, writings and interventions. Students will be expected to lead discussions on class readings and complete a final research project.
Week one – Introductions. Discussion on architectural practice as intervention, critiques of Modernism, and the emergence of globalization and the Neo-liberal spatial order.
Week two – Convention in the context of architecture, Authorship and the architect as collaborator
reading: “Toward a theory of normative architecture” by Joan Ockman in Architecture of the Everyday.
Week three – Re-imagining the City, Architect as planner vs. Architect as critic.
Case Study: Superstudio
reading: "Only Architecture Will Be Our Lives" by Lang and Menking in Superstudio: Life Without Objects.
Week four – An Anarchist Architecture?
Case Study: Anarchitecture
reading: “Towards Anarchitecture: Gordon Matta-Clark and LeCorbusier.” By James Attlee
Week five – Architecture as science fiction and the aesthetics of Pop
Case Study: Archigram
reading: selections from Archigram (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Archigram: Architecture without Architecture by Simon Sadler
Week six – Nomadism and Media
Case Study: The Ant Farm
reading: “Introduction”, “Sex, drugs, rock and roll, cars, dolphins, and architecture” & “Searching for Energy” in Ant Farm 1968–1978 by Constance Lewallen and Steve Seid
Week seven – The utopia of print
Case Study: Utopie
reading: Utopie: Texts and Projects, 1967–1978, edited by Craig Buckley and Jean-Louis Violeau
Week eight – New Babylon
Case Study: Constant Nieuwenhuys
reading: Constant's New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire by Mark Wigley (selections)
Week nine – Experiment as drawing practice and process
Case Study: Lebbeus Woods
reading: Pamphet Architecture 15: War and Architecture by Lebbeus Woods and Lebbeus Woods, Architect by Joseph Becker and Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher (selections)
Week ten – Bio-technics and the city
Case Study: The Metabolists: Kenzo Tange, Kiyonori Kikutake and Kisho Kurokawa
Week eleven – The Fun Palace and beyond
Case Study: Cedric Price
Week twelve – Unbuilt Los Angeles:
Case study: The utopia/dystopia of now
reading: Never Built: Los Angeles by Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell
Week thirteen – Community redevelopment as social sculpture
Case Study: Project Row Houses, Watts House Project, and Theaster Gates
Week fourteen – Student presentations.
CalArts does not grade on the A-F scale. We grade using:
The following changes to the grading policy have been in effect since Fall 2013:
NC (no credit) grades will appear on a student's permanent academic record
NC grades must appear on external records to ensure accurate reporting to peer institutions and for financial aid reporting. While CalArts does not use a Grade Point Average (GPA) as part of its marking system, the following formula will be used for external purposes: HP =4.00, P=3.00, LP=2.00, NC=0.00.
Students will no longer receive NX grades, but the longer withdrawal period (through the 10th week of the semester) will provide an option for students to exit a course without receiving a failing grade. To drop a course during the extended withdrawal period, a student will obtain the Course Withdrawal form from the Registrar’s Office, consult with his or her mentor, obtain the course instructor’s signature verifying the last date of attendance, and return the form to the Registrar’s Office. The course will remain on the student's record with a "W" grade, but the grade of "W" will have no effect on the grade point average.
If a student misses more than 3 sessions of class and does not pursue the withdrawal option, a NC will be given and will appear on external records.
To read the revised Grading Policy in its entirety as well as frequently asked questions, click on the link below:
In the interests of operating an equitable grading system, Critical Studies stringently enforces CalArts’ change of grade policy. Students have one semester upon receiving an “Incomplete” grade to make up any missing coursework and/or projects. If this work has not been completed by the end of the semester, the Incomplete converts automatically to a “No Credit”. After that time, changes require the approval of Deans Council. Deans Council will approve such grade changes only in the case of extreme, extenuating circumstances or in cases of administrative/faculty error.
CalArts will provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities who have registered with the Student Affairs office. Registration with the Office of Student Affairs is on a voluntary, self-identifying basis. Services are available only after a student has presented certified, current documentation of the disability from an appropriate medical or educational specialist, and this documentation has been reviewed and accepted as complete. Please go to http://calarts.edu/student-services/disabilities for extensive information on services for students with disabilities.
Critical Studies endeavors to teach students the essential skills and basic ethics involved in any academic enquiry. To this end, we are committed to observing the policy on plagiarism set out in the CalArts Course Catalog. This stipulates that plagiarism is the use of ideas and/or quotations (from the internet, books, films, television, newspapers, articles, the work of other students, works of art, media, etc.) without proper credit to the author/artist. Critical Studies holds to the view that plagiarism constitutes intellectual theft and is a serious breach of acceptable conduct. It is also the policy of CalArts that students who misrepresent source material as their own original work and fail to credit it have committed plagiarism and are subject to disciplinary action. In the case of Critical Studies, any student caught plagiarizing will immediately be given a ‘no credit’ for that class. The student will not be allowed to re-write the paper, and if there is further evidence of plagiarism, Critical Studies will recommend more severe disciplinary action, including suspension or dismissal.
If you have any questions regarding plagiarism or want direction on how to credit source material, ask the member of faculty and refer to reference guides on permanent reserve in the CalArts library. The CalArts reference librarians may be able to offer additional information as well.