DESST 1505 - History Theory I

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2020

This course frames contemporary architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in the historical and theoretical contexts of previous design experience and debates. Focusing on key developments since the 20th century, the recent past is explored and explained in terms of its relevance to present issues and tendencies in design theory and practice. This course aims to develop and apply skills in critical reading and interpretation, including the establishment of an argument. Students will be exposed to a range of relevant criticism and scholarship employing different research methods. They will develop basic research skills and an understanding of academic writing conventions.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code DESST 1505
    Course History Theory I
    Coordinating Unit School of Architecture and Built Environment
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Restrictions Available to B.ArchDes & B.E(Arch) & B. Creative Arts students only
    Quota A quota will apply
    Course Description This course frames contemporary architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in the historical and theoretical contexts of previous design experience and debates. Focusing on key developments since the 20th century, the recent past is explored and explained in terms of its relevance to present issues and tendencies in design theory and practice.

    This course aims to develop and apply skills in critical reading and interpretation, including the establishment of an argument. Students will be exposed to a range of relevant criticism and scholarship employing different research methods. They will develop basic research skills and an understanding of academic writing conventions.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Amit Srivastava

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    As a Level I Core Course in History and Theory, the course is designed to foster knowledge, understanding and skills that will assist the student with both future courses as well as professional design practice.

    On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

    1. Identify important practitioners, projects and architectural movements of the last century.
    2. Interpret & discuss the socio-cultural context of the 20th and 21st centuries within which these theoretical approaches to design have developed.
    3. Compare & critique the various approaches to design in relation to their historical context.
    4. Identify reliable and relevant sources of historical information for self-directed research.
    5. Compose a critical argument and communicate this through clear and concise analytical texts.
    6. Employ academic protocols in writing & referencing utilising established styles.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Course Text Books:
    The course has 3 assigned textbooks, namely:

    • New Directions in Contemporary Architecture
    Evolutions and Revolutions in Building Design Since 1988
    by: Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi

    • Artificial Love: A Story of Machines and Architecture
    by: Paul Shepheard

    • How Architects Write
    by: Tom Spector and Rebecca Damron

    Course Reader:
    In addition to the textbooks the course has an assigned Lecture Supplement/Glossary that can be obtained from the University’s Image & Copy Centre on the payment of a nominal fee. Please ensure that you purchase this resource well before the start of the semester and have it available for tutorial activities in Week 1. This course reader should be paid for online as directed in the O'Week welcome lecture.

    The contact details for the Image & Copy Centre are:
    The Image & Copy Centre
    Level 1, Hughes Building
    University of Adelaide
    Telephone: (08) 8303 4690 or (08) 8303 5217
    Hours: Monday to Friday 9.30am - 4.00pm

    You are required to maintain an A4 size journal for your course notes & weekly tasks.
    It is preferable that you use a journal with unruled pages & thickish paper to assist with drawing.

    Other Resources:
    Certain drawing tasks related to this course will require you to have access to drawing equipment and materials. You should have already obtained these for your Design Studio and Representation 1 courses, and can continue to use the same.
    Online Learning
    University Email:
    The school uses the University email system to get in touch with the students. So it is imperative that you check your email regularly and keep up to date with any new announcements.

    MyUni is an essential online tool which will be used to communicate information regarding the course including details of assignments and interim grades. Therefore it is recommended that you familiarise yourself with the various functions of MyUni and employ it to its fullest extent.

    Discussion Board:
    The MyUni Discussion Board can be used to interact with other students and tutors and is an essential tool to discuss information and increase your understanding of issues.

    Lecture Recording:
    An audio recording of most lectures is made available in electronic format through the MyUni system for students to listen to on their own time and make notes. Please note that while these audio recordings are a useful resource for revision they should not be considered as replacement for actual lecture attendance. The lecture sessions will include activities and discussions on visual material that cannot be captured properly in the recording. Furthermore, technical issues cause delays in the availability of recordings which might affect your ability to complete ongoing tasks, not to mention technical failures which might result in certain recordings being unavailable.

    Noticeboard / Handbook:
    General information about the activities at the School is available online from the Student Noticeboard which can be accessed at
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    This is primarily a Lecture based course where essential content is delivered through 3 hours of weekly lecture sessions. These lecture sessions, however, are not run as traditional lectures and engage various different learning and teaching strategies to allow for better engagement of students and understanding of the course material.

    The course engages a Team Learning strategy in which the class is divided into groups of 7-8 students who are required to work together on small tasks to assist the learning process. The Team Learning strategy has proven benefits in reducing performance anxiety and engaging peer-support for skill development. The strategy is, however, only used as a means to increase student participation and comprehension and does not affect individual assessment.

    Team Learning strategies are further supported by the new interactive electronic systems recently acquired by the University and available at the special Computer Labs at Nexus 10. Towards the end of the semester, certain lecture sessions are replaced by large tutorials at these interactive labs.

    In addition to the Team Learning strategy the course also engages some basic principles of Gamification. The course is structured to allow for several parallel modes of engagement for students who can choose to perform different tasks and gain different types of points. The points can then be exchanged for different kinds of rewards. This allows students the opportunity to guide their own learning process and properly engage their skill set to get the maximum value out of the course.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The University expects full-time students (ie. those taking 12 units per semester) to devote at least 48 hours per week to their studies. Accordingly, students undertaking this 3 unit course are expected to devote 12 hours per week to contact activities and self-guided studies.

    Based on this framework here are some figures that might assist workload management:

    Total workload hours: 12 Hrs per week x 13 weeks = 156 Hrs
    Total contact hours: 3 Hrs per week x 12 weeks = 36 Hrs
    Total self-guided study: 156 Hrs – 36 Hrs = 120 Hrs

    These 120 hours should be used towards preparation of weekly tasks and for completion of the various assignments associated with the course, including development of various skills required to complete the same. Please organise your time wisely.
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week 01
    Session 1a
    Architecture, Society & Technology:
    Modernism, Postmodernism, Deconstructivism & beyond
    Session 1b
    Emergence of the Modern Movement in 20th C.
    Adolf Loos and the Crisis of Culture in early 20th Century
    Session 1c
    Speed Reading & Mind-mapping
    How to process information in architecture

    Week 02
    Session 2a
    German Industrialisation & Deutsche Werkbund
    Peter Behrens and the Werkbund Exhibition of 1914
    Session 2b
    Modern Art Movements around Europe
    Futurism, Constructivism, Expressionism and De Stijl
    Session 2c
    Early works of Le Corbusier and Mies (on Style)
    Purism & Corb's maisons blanches; Barcelona Pavilion

    Week 03
    Session 3a
    Bauhaus, New Objectivity & the International Style
    Weissenhof Seidlung, CIAM & Architectural Modernism
    Session 3b
    Post War Modernism in America
    Fuller, Eames, and Bauhaus in America
    Session 3c
    The 'other' tradition and shell concrete curves
    Aalto, Saarinen, Utzon, and Post War Corb & Wright

    Week 04
    Session 4a
    Post-War Planning & Post-Colonial Capitals
    UN, Unite & Ekistics; Ankara, Brasilia, Chandigarh & Ibadan
    Session 4b
    Hyperurbanisation & the Flights of Fantasy
    Brutalism, Metabolism, Archigram & Superstudio
    Session 4c
    Renewing Modernism from Within
    Team 10, Smithsons, Erskine, Van Eyck | Kahn & High Tech

    Week 05
    Session 5a
    Revision Session for Practice MCQ Test
    Revision of essential content from Weeks 01 to 04
    Session 5b
    Practice MCQ Test
    All sessions from Week 01 to Week 05
    Session 5c
    Workshop on using the Library Research for Final Essay
    This special session is essential for research in break

    Week 06
    Session 6a
    Intellectual Inspirations for Post Modernism
    'twinphenomena' to 'both-and' and 'double-coding'
    Session 6b
    Deconstruction and Reconstruction
    Derrida to Eisenman, Koolhaas, Tschumi & Hadid
    Session 6c
    Discussion on Theoretical Perspectives
    Introduction to Theory and Theoretical Framework

    Week 07
    Session 7a
    New Directions After Deconstructivism
    Early experiments in composition, perception, minimalism
    Session 7b
    The Enduring Appeal of Novelty and the Envelope
    Explosive Buildings, Blobitecture and Eco-Tech
    Session 7c
    Discussion on Developing an Argument
    Using the framework to define a critical stance

    Week 08
    Session 8a
    WORKSHOP Workshop on Chicago Style Referencing
    Essential information on preparing bibliographies
    Session 8b
    Masterpieces for a New Century
    New Aesthetics and New Ethics - From Bilbao to 9/11
    Session 8c
    Discussion on Developing an Argument
    Using the framework to define a critical stance

    Week 09
    Session 9a
    WORKSHOP Workshop on Essay Planning
    Essential information on structure and logical progression
    Session 9b
    Crisis or Opportunity
    Latest trends and the future of architecture (history)
    Session 9c
    Discussion on incorporating Architectural Evidence
    Using historical examples to support your argument

    Week 10
    Session 10a
    WORKSHOP MCQ Workshop and Practice
    All sessions from Week 06 to Week 09
    Session 10b
    Final Overview and Revision Session
    Complete revision of essential content for Final MCQ Test
    Session 10c
    Final Overview and Revision Session
    Complete revision of essential content for Final MCQ Test

    Week 11
    Session 11a
    All sessions from Week 01 to Week 05
    Session 11b
    Discussion on History & Theory in Architecture
    How history as a process informs future developments
    Session 11c
    Discussion on Theoretical Perspectives
    Refining your theoretical framework for readership

    Week 12
    Session 12a
    Workshop on Language and Your Voice
    This session will help edit and refine your draft
    Session 12b
    Workshop on Editing and Polishing your Final Essay
    We will work with your final draft so come prepared

    Week 13
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task Due Date Length(Word,Time) Weight Type Learning Outcomes
    Ongoing Tasks Various Various 20% S 1,2,3,4,6
    Final Test Week 11 In Class 40% S 1,2
    Final Essay Week 13 Word length TBA, Online 40% S 2,3,4,5,6
    Total 100%

    The Ongoing Tasks are calculated as Activity Points. 
    More information is available from MyUni

    S=Summative Assessment

    Due to the current COVID-19 situation modified arrangements have been made to assessments to facilitate remote learning and teaching. Assessment details provided here reflect recent updates.

    All ongoing assessment related to this course is already to be submitted online and the comments and grades will also be available through the online system. So this will not be affected for the most part.

    The only change will be the Practice Class Test which is coming up in Week 5. We will arrange for this to be done electronically and I will send out the instructions before the test.

    Any changes to the administering of the Final Test which is scheduled for 27 May will be announced later.

    The Final Essay due on 11 June is already to be submitted online and will be graded online.
    Assessment Detail
    Details of various assessment tasks and assignments are available from MyUni through the Assignments & Tasks Section.

    Marking & Feedback (General)
    • Final results for the course will only be available through Access Adelaide and students SHOULD NOT contact the course coordinator or the tutors for the same.
    • Most assignments will be marked within 3 weeks of the submission and the interim grades will be made available through the My Grades system. Students are expected to inform the Course Coordinator if there are any errors with the marks entered on the system.
    • The best examples of student Journals will be included in the All-In Exhibition to be held in mid of June alongside the best works from other courses and year levels.
    • The student with best overall grade for the course will receive the David A.L Saunders Prize for History and Theories of Architecture, including a monetary prize & certification on transcript.
    Submissions (General):
    - All submissions must include Student Name and Student ID Number.
     Submissions without both Student Name and ID Number will not be considered for marking, and will receive zero marks as per guidelines.
    - Please adhere to submission deadlines and follow instructions provided.
    - Students must not submit work for an assignment that has previously been submitted for this course or any other course without prior approval from the Course Coordinator.
    - On occasion, the lecturer/tutor may wish to retain students’ work for future reference and the relevant student will be informed at such a time.

    Late Submission:
    - The school will NOT accept late submissions and any such assignment will receive zero marks. This also applies to electronic submissions.
    - Printing delays & hard disk crashes will not be entertained as legitimate causes for delay, so please ensure that the work is finished in advance.

    - Since the course already provides alternative assessment options for  students to make up lost marks, the resubmission policy does not apply to any of the submissions in this course.

    Good practice:
    - Students should ensure that they regularly backup their work on multiple locations as hard-disk crashes are an unfortunate reality.
    - When relying on community printing/scanning facilities, students should attempt to finish their work in advance to avoid unnecessary delays.
    - Students must retain a copy of all assignments submitted (digital or hardcopy), as originals may be lost during the submission process.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines

    This section contains links to relevant assessment-related policies and guidelines - all university policies.

    A register of suspected plagiarism incidents is maintained within the School and at the Faculty level.

    A plagiarist is one who takes the ideas, designs or writings of others, with or without permission, and passes them off as his or her own. Plagiarism includes among other things any copying of all or part of another student’s essay, examination answer or design, or of text or an illustration from a published or unpublished book, website, article or paper, (etc.) without acknowledging the source. It also includes copying architectural, landscape and other design drawings, regardless of how they were obtained. In effect plagiarism is theft of intellectual property, and students should be aware of the consequences of using unacknowledged work of others (including the work of other students), whether that work is text or graphics, or copied from hard copy or from electronic sources such as web sites. The School and the University regard academic dishonesty as a very serious offence. If it is determined that there are no extenuating circumstances within an occurrence of plagiarism it may lead to a student receiving zero marks for a course, without the option of a resubmission.
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.