University of Technology Sydney

11216 Architectural History and Theory: Modernity and Modernism

6cp; 3hpw (2hr lecture, 1hr tutorial), on campus
There are course requisites for this subject. See access conditions.



The subject begins where the first history subject left off, in 1750, with the advent of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, ushered in the era of scientific thinking and positivism, ways of approaching the world through systematic evaluation and consideration. It is also the beginning of the modern period, a time in which religious belief is on the decline, while democracy and capitalism are on the rise, industrial production is replacing handcraft, and populations begin the great shift from rural areas to the cities. That is, the mid-18th century represents the start of what is still called 'modernity'. Thus, while focused on the 20th century, the subject begins with the second half of the 18th century because this is the historical moment which most historians believe marks the beginnings of modernity in every human endeavour.

The subject therefore studies the relationship between the changes in the world and in world-view and diverse practices of modernism in art and architecture, along with theories of modernity as they bear upon and are challenged by these practices. The subject develops students' abilities to read and understand key aspects of architectural design through case study analysis. The subject combines a broad sweep of political, social, and economic changes that influenced new ideas in architectural design with discussion of conceptual and thematic ideas. As the famous Austrian architect Otto Wagner said, "the sole starting point of our artistic endeavours should be modern life." (Otto Wagner, Modern Architecture (1896) reprint (1988) 60.) In order to understand why architecture looks the way it does, we need to investigate the ideas that inspired architects; these ideas come from every possible realm of human thought, from fine art to science to philosophy to mysticism. Cases are used to illustrate how those ideas affected specific projects. Assigned readings complement the lectures to give students an overview of how architectural ideas and aesthetics developed across time but neither the readings, nor the lectures, in and of themselves, cover all of the material. The two are designed to complement each other.

Typical availability

Spring session, City campus

Detailed subject description.

Fee information

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Access conditions

Note: The requisite information presented in this subject description covers only academic requisites. Full details of all enforced rules, covering both academic and admission requisites, are available at access conditions and My Student Admin.