ARC 590: Sustainable Architecture and Urbanism

Course Description:

This 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 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 also looks at the issue of sustainability of urban environments and the role of architecture in that context. We will discuss the relationship between the build urban structure that serves the needs and interests of the human inhabitants with the other living systems in cities.

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 representing specific urban typologies of Prague. We shall explore these places as a series of layers and implications for sustainability.

Course Objectives:

  • To provide an introduction and foundation of understanding in urban structure including; organizational principles, public space structure and function, circulation and  transportation systems and urban ecosystems.
  • To reveal and explore our preconceptions about the people and places we visit.
  • To discuss strategies for discovering and understanding the uniqueness of place.
  • To provide background and specific insights to the evolution of Prague including historical, cultural and economic influencing factors.
  • To discuss the specific forces of change and trajectory of Prague and the Czech Republic.
  • To diagnose the trajectory and prepare a prognosis of the effects of the studio design  proposal.