ARC 590: Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism

Instructor: Henry Hanson
Credits: 3
GEP: Elective

Course Description

The semester abroad is a unique opportunity to learn about another place and people as well as reflect on where we come from. The primary intent of the course is to explore and understand the place from a very local perspective. As foreigners, it is our responsibility to understand where we are, the people that live there, their aspirations and even their fears. One goal of this course is to actively and intently engage in this search, to understand foreign places using Prague and the Czech Republic as the laboratory. Prague is a particularly unique City of Europe in that it remains largely physically undamaged by the events of the Second World War that devastated so many of Europe’s great cities. Therefore, it offers intact urban structures of significant historical periods from medieval to the contemporary. The seminar will use these assets as a framework for understanding the relationship between the physical form of the city; it’s hardware, and the function or life of the city; it’s software.

This seminar focuses on sustainability of urban environments and the role of designers of the built environment in that context. We will discuss the relationship between the built urban structure that serves the needs and interests of the human inhabitants and the ecosystems that incorporate other living systems in cities. A series of individual and team exercises and assignments will provide sustainability and resilience case study opportunities of historical and contemporary design and building practices.

This course is specifically designed for students of architecture and landscape architecture. The seminar course is also intended to help broaden the foundation for the studio through opportunities to explore and learn about the broader context. Therefore, the course includes the study of a series of selected urban settings and buildings representing specific urban typologies of Prague.

Learning Outcomes

  • Ability of a student to develop a strategy for investigating and understanding the conditions of an unfamiliar location
  • Basic understanding of factors of sustainability and resilience in urban structure, urban landscape and architecture
  • Ability to conduct case study research in a foreign context.
  • Basic understanding of the dependencies and consequences of building material and construction methods associated with various building practices.