DESST 1505 - History Theory I

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2022

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: Associate Professor Peter Scriver

    The tutors for History Theory I are listed below:

    Dr. Namrata Vishwasrao (NV)

    Madeline Nolan (MN)

    Mack Wilson (MW)

    A/Prof Peter Scriver (PS)
    Course Timetable

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

    Weekly activities are listed in the Synopsis.
  • 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 key projects, designers, design theories and movements in architecture, landscape architecture and urban design of the past century.
    2. Interpret & discuss these design theories and forms in the historical contexts in which have developed.
    3. Compare & critique differences in architectural design approach and aesthetics with respect to combinations of factors (cultural, social, political, technological,…) in different historical contexts.
    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 and graphics.
    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)

    Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth

    Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.


    Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving

    Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.


    Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills

    Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.


    Attribute 4: Professionalism and leadership readiness

    Graduates engage in professional behaviour and have the potential to be entrepreneurial and take leadership roles in their chosen occupations or careers and communities.


    Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency

    Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.


    Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence

    Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.

  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Course Readings:
    This course will introduce you to a variety of different print and digital sources relevant to the History and Theory of architecture, landscape architecture and urban design in the modern era, including some of the many textbooks on the topic, both current and classic, that you may wish to buy for your personal library. For your convenience, however, a pre-selected set of Course Readings has been prepared with text excerpts and illustrations (copied in pdf format) from a number of different textbooks that will provide a basic foundation for the lectures, tutorial discussions, and assessment (Reading/Discussion Tasks 1-5, and Slide Test) in the first half of the course. These can be accessed online through ‘Course Readings’ on the MyUni website for this course. [See MODULES on MyUni for assigned weekly readings]

    Throughout the course the assigned Course Readings (on MyUni) may be supplemented with additional selections from the following text (which is also available to download free of charge online):

    The History of Architecture 1905-2008
    by Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi (Presstletter, 2013)
    Copyright Luigi Prestinenza Puglisi. Creative commons licence: the text may be copied in whole or
    in part under the condition that the source is quoted, that no content is altered and that material is
    not used for paid products. The official version, the model and sole version controlled and recognised as the original by the author is available at the following link:

    (NOTE: This is the freely downloadable text of an entire textbook that the author has made available free of charge to students and any other interested readers. If you want the pictures you will have to buy the actual book (see below), or just use the web to search for images as you read.)
    Recommended Resources

    How Architects Write
    by: Tom Spector and Rebecca Damron (Routledge, 2013)
    This is a wide-ranging guide to the ways that arhcitects write thorugh both text and drawing, that will be useful for the assignment work in this course, and also worth acquiring for your library.

    The Elements of Modern Architecture, 2nd edition
    by: Antony Radford, Selen Morkoc, and Amit Srivastava (Thames & Hudson, 2020)
    Written and produced by staff and students of our own school, this is one of the most widely published and critically respected books in print today that offer a sophisticated graphic analysis of the design theory and form of iconic examples of modern and contemporary architecture from around the world. It would be well-worth investing in for you library, and will be directly applicable to major essay assignment, as well as later courses in first and second year.

    Drawing tools & materials
    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 may be used directly for some assessment tasks. It may alos 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:
    Lectures will always be viewable online, and will usually be delivered 'live' at the scheduled lecture times. Efforts will also be made to record all lectures, and these recoidings will be made available in electronic format through the MyUni system for students to review on their own time and make notes. However, please note that while these audio recordings are a useful resource, they should not be considered as replacement for regular lecture attendance. Some lecture sessions may be delivered on Zoom and will attempt to be as interactive as the medium permits. 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.

  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Weekly course contact will consist of a 2-hour lecture session as well as a 1-hour small-group tutorial session. Skill-development workshops will be run instead of lectures or tutorials in some weeks.  (See 'Synopsis' on MyUni for a concise week to week overview of all course activities and assignment submission dates over the semester.)

    Assessment consists of compulsory participation in live and online tutorial discussions based on assigned readings, an online visual quiz, and an essay engaging both written and graphic skills of analysis and communication.

    Coursework relies equally on pre-class preparation, during class engagement, and post class extension. It is structured in this way to enhance the student-learning value and efficiency of limited contact time with lecturers and tutors. As a student, you are therefore expected to complete the pre-class reading and writing tasks before the weekly lectures and tutorials.

    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
    SYNOPSIS of Lectures, Tutorials, and Submissions
    W Lectures (2hrs/wk) Thursdays 9:00-11:00am 
    Tutorials (1 hr/wk) Thursdays

    W1 Introduction to History Theory 1
    From ‘Tree’ to ‘Tapestry’: Some ‘Modern’ theories of the History of Architecture
    A Model of Modernity?: The Flatiron Building (ca. 1901)
    *No tutorials this week

    W2 Mechanisation in Design Thinking
    Form & Function:
    From the Chicago School to the Bauhaus

    W3 Process & Method:
    Form, Craft and Fordism
    Other traditions in Modernism:
    Organicism, Transcendentalism, Expressionism and the ‘Spirit of the Modern Age’ 

    W4 Ideology and Power:
    From ‘Total Design’ to Totalitarianism, 1917-1933
    Reactions to Radicalism: Fascist and Stalinist design, 1933-47 

    W5 Modernism and Internationalism in the twilight of the European colonial Empires
    Individualism vs. Universalism in the Modern Movement 

    W6 Formalisms and affinities between Modern Art and Modern Architecture
    New forms & metaphors in ‘post-war’ modernism 

    Teaching break: No contact

    W7 Slide Test
    (to be taken during lecture session) 

    W8 Postmodernism (1): The Critical Turn
    Introduction to Major Essay Assignment
    Essay PS1

    W9 Workshop on Essay Planning Structure and logical progression
    (Guest Facilitator: Michael Lazarou)
    Reading a contemporary architectural work critically through the lenses of Theory and History
    (Guest lecturer: Athanasios Lazarou)
    Essay PS2

    W10 Architecture in Europe and America after 1968
    Postmodernism (2): The Cultural Turn
    Essay PS3

    W11 Tendencies in the Architecture of the ‘Global-South’ Since 1973
    Deconstruction & Reconstruction in the 90s 
    Essay PS4

    W12 Postmodernism (3): The Emotional Turn
    Memory, Spirit and Invention In the early 21st century

    Final Essay 

  • 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
    This assessment detail is also summarised in the synopsis and will be posted in MyUni.

    Assignment Submission(s) (description) % Remarks
    R/DTs Reading/Discussion Task 1: What is ‘architecture’? (5) Compulsory formative submission 

    Reading/Discussion Tasks 2-5 (15) Formative submissions. Minimum of 3 timely submissions are required over 4 weeks (NOTE: 5% penalty for each non-submission under the threshold)
    Overall R/DT mark 20 Overall summative assessment of R/DT participation and quality of input
    Slide Test Online visual quiz 30 Combination of multiple choice & short essay answers, to be completed during lecture session
    Essay Progress Sumbissions 1-4 (20) Compulsory formative submissions (non-graded) for essay assignment (NOTE: 5% penalty for each non-submission)
    Final Essay submission 50 essay text (40%)
    graphic communication (10%)


    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 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.
     - Please adhere to submission deadlines and follow instructions provided.
    - Printing delays & hard disk crashes will not be entertained as legitimate causes for delayed submissions, so please ensure that the work is finished in advance.

    - See Faculty policy for resubmission and/or additional assessment

    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.