Risorse bibliografiche
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoria
Risorsa bibliografica facoltativa
Scheda Riassuntiva
Anno Accademico 2017/2018
Scuola Scuola di Architettura Urbanistica Ingegneria delle Costruzioni
Docente Ingersoll Richard Joseph
Cfu 4.00 Tipo insegnamento Monodisciplinare

Corso di Studi Codice Piano di Studio preventivamente approvato Da (compreso) A (escluso) Nome Sezione Insegnamento
Arc - Urb - Cost (Mag.)(ord. 270) - MI (1136) ARCHITETTURAE12AZZZ089997 - ARCHITECTURAL THEORY AND PRACTICE

Programma dettagliato e risultati di apprendimento attesi

Architectural Theory and Practice

Politecnico di Milano, Facoltà di Architettura e Società. Thursdays 15:00-18:00

Prof. Richard Ingersoll; Assistant, Arian Heidari Afshari

Although one can make theories about architecture without practicing, it is impossible to practice without a minimum of theory. Previous to the 20th century, theories about architecture generally related to order, geometry, structure, decoration, and social significance. The variety of practices had more to do with geographical peculiarities than with intellectual differences. The influence of the works of Darwin, Marx, and Freud, during the late 19th century, however, opened architectural discourse to evolutionary theory, political theory, and psychological interpretation, while accompanying a new sense of global knowledge. During this period the scale of urbanization dramatically expanded and wars, revolutions, dictatorships, and mass consumerism redefined the goals of design. The success of Le Corbusier (1887-1965), who wrote almost as many books as he produced buildings, demonstrated a fundamental shift in architectural culture, in which the textual support for practice created legitimation. Le Corbusier and other utopian thinkers believed in architecture and urbanism as a mission, giving it a new urgency. By the 1960s political and linguistic theories saturated the thinking of well-educated designers, adding both a strong critical thrust and a new capacity for interpreting the debates. Architecture could no longer be reduced to the Vitruvian triad of commodity-firmness-delight, but would now have to include other factors such as commodification, irony, and otherness. Logocentrism and logical positivism were overturned as philosophical core of an architect’s reasoning, as a way to resist monofunctional programs, neo-colonial pursuits, and discriminatory practices. By the end of the 20th century, however, most designers in developed countries had to come to terms with the Ecology Question, with the awareness that the anthropogenic causes of climate change were directly linked to architectural practice. Just as theorists of Deconstruction attempted to dismantle the master narrative of functionalism, a new functionalism regarding sustainability began to supersede the complexities of post-structuralist theories.

The sequence of eight lessons this year will gloss quickly over the theories and texts connected to Le Corbusier, Jane Jacobs, Aldo Rossi, Robert Ventur and Denise Scott-Brown, Charles Correa, Kenneth Frampton, Rem Koolhaas, Luis Fernandez Galiano, Margaret Crawford, Anthony Vidler, Paul Virilio. The urgency of climate change, however, requires a new perspective and we will consider from the start a variety of architectural theories and practices linked to energy, landscape, and agriculture. Land Architecture, Agricivismo, and the birth of the agritect, are concepts that we have been developing in the course during the past four years. They are considered in the new social frames of mass tourism, despatialization through digital media, and sustainability. The role of the architect is rapidly transforming into a keyboard activity with ever less contact with the real world., Much of the developed world appears overbuilt with vast reserves of uninhabited structures and abandoned spaces, and ever greater works of Hypertecture. In many instances design has atrophied rather than making a progress toward sustainability, due to a previous generation’s ambitions for speculative development, and this seriously needs to be reassessed. The course questions whether the role of the emerging architect should not be closer to the care of the natural environment rather than geared to the multiplication of empty buildings and dead spaces.


Weekly Themes


1)     Thursday, 14/IX/2017. Life and Death. Architectural discussions around 1968.

What does an architect do? Should architects save the world? Typology versus Social pressure?

Texts:  Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, 1966. (excerpt)

Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter, Collage City, 1978, pp 9-83.

            Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of the Great American City”

2)     Thursday, 21/IX/2017. Debunking Modernism with linguistic theories and social theories. Semiotics and Critical Regionalism, Symbolism vs Realism

The struggle between theory and practice during the late 20th century. From Utopianism to post-Humanism.

Texts:  Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, 1972 (excerpts). Part I “A significance for A&P Parking Lots”, pp 3-72; and Part II “The Ugly and Ordinary,” pp 85-103.

            Charles Jencks, “Postmodernism”

            Kenneth Frampton, “Critical Regionalism”

3)     Thursday, 28/IX/2017. Big Milano. Urban Theories and Tales of Patronage From Big Modernism to the Revenge of History

Visitor: Arian Heidar Afshari, “Grouding: how to perceive sprawl”.

Texts: Rem Koolhaas, “Delirious New York”, “Generic City”

Margaret Crawford, “Everyday Urbanism”

Richard Ingersoll, Sprawltown, ch.1, Changing Weather

4)     Thursday, 5/X/2017. Infrastructure as Art. The Cultivation of Urban Readymades

Visitor: Giorgia Fumagalli, “Learning from Prypjat”.

Texts: Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything. Capitalism versus the Climate

            David Harvey, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism

Rem  Koolhaas, “Bigness” from SMLXL, 1994

Serge Latouche, Farewell to Growth, 2009.*

Richard Ingersoll, “Sprawltown”  Ch. 3 and 4 Infrastructure as art, Jumpcut Urbanism

5)     Thursday, 12/X/2017. Lifestyles changes. Tourism and the commodified city

Visitor: Francesca Lina Pincella “Veniceland”

Beyond urbanism to total urbanization, the loss of citizenship, the rise of marketing, life without physical connections to space.

Texts: Christine Boyer, “Collective Memory Under Siege, the Case of Heritage Terrorism,” from Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, 2012.

Alessandro Santarossa, Tourist Invasions, 2013

            Mike Davis, “Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?”

Margaret Crawford, “The World in a Mall,” from Variations on a Theme Park, ed. Michael Sorkin, 1992, pp 3-30.

Richard Ingersoll, “Sprawltown”  Ch. 2 The Symmetry of Tourism and Terrorism


6)     Thursday, 19/X/2017. The Ecology Question

Readings: Ingersoll, Sprawltown chapter 5 “The Ecology Question”

            Carloyn Steel, “Sitopia”

R. Ingersoll, “Civic Agriculture”

Gilles Clément, Manifesto of the Third Landscape, 2005


7)     Thursday, 26/X/2017. Citizen Nomad

            Visitor: Narges Mofaharian, building for crisis situations

Texts: V. Rao, “Slum as Theory. Mega-cities and Urban models,” Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, 2012

Salvatore Spataro, ed., NEEDS, Architecture in Developing Countries, 2013.*

Vandana Shiva, Terra Viva manifesto

Mike Davis, Planet of Slums

8)Thursday, 9/XI/2017. Smart City, Dumb People.

The opposition of organic versus inorganic; agricivismo versus hypertecture; linear economies versus circular economies.

Texts: R. Ingersoll, Richard Ingersoll, “Cyperproles of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your link,” Domus, 2014.

            MVRDV, Metacity. Datatown, 1999.

            Michael Dear “Postmodern Urbanism” 1998

            Susanah Hagan, Digitalia, Architecture and the Digital, 2008

Antoine Picon, “A New Technological Landscape,” from Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, 2012

Readings: Ingersoll, “Agricivismo. cities as the new frontier for farming,” catalogue for exhibition FOOD, from spoon to space, MAXXI, 2015.

9) Thursday, 16/XI/2017 test, given in two sittings

10)Thursday, 23/XI/2017, project reviews

11)Thursday, 30/XI/2017, revisions

12)Thursday, 7/XII/2017. Last revisions

13) Thursday, 14/XII/2017. final presentations

14) Thursday, 21/XII/2017. final presentations



Jacques Attali, A Brief History of the Future, 2011.

Cecil Balmond, Informal, 2002.

Reyner Banham, Theory and Design in the First Machine Age, 1960.

Stefano Boeri, Biomilano. Glossary of Ideas for a metropolis based around bio-diversity, Corraini Edizioni, 2011.

Zygmunt Bauman, David Lyon, Liquid Surveillance. A Conversation, Polity Press, 2013.

Mario Carpo, The Alphabet and the Algorithm, MIT Press, 2011.

Gilles Clément, Manifesto of the Third Landscape, 2005.

Greig Crysler, Stephen Cairns, Hilda Heynan, eds., The Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, 2011.

Vivianna Ferrario, Angelo Sapieri, Paola Viganò, Landscapes of urbanism, Officina Edizioni, 2011.

Susannah Hagan, Digitalia, Architecture and the Digital, the Environmental and the Avant-garde, 2008.

Stephen Graham, Cities Under Siege. The New Military Urbanism, Verso, 2010.

Petra Gruber, Biometrics in Architecture. Architecture of Life and Buildings, Springer, 2011.

Manuel Gauza, et al., the metapolis dictionary of advanced architecture, city, technology, and society in the information age, Actar, 2003.

Susannah Hagan, Digitalia, Architecture and the Digital, the Environmental and the Avant-garde, 2008 (excerpts)

Yuval Noah Hariri, Homo Deus. A Brief History of Tomorrow, 2016.

K. Michael Hays, Architecture Theory since 1968, MIT Press, 1998.

Hilde Heynen, Architecture and Modernity, a Critique, 1999.

Denis Hollier, Against Architecture, The Writings of Georges Bataille, 1978.

Richard Ingersoll, Sprawltown. Looking for the City on its Edges, Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.

Rem Koolhaas, S,M,L,XL Monacelli Press, 1995.

Serge Latouche, Farewell to Growth, Polity Press, 2009.

William McDonough & Michael Braungart, Cradle to Cradle, Remaking the Way We Make Things, Northpoint Press, 2002.

Rafael Moneo, Theoretical Anxiety and Design Strategies in the Work of Eight Contemporary Architects, MIT Press, 2004.

Kate Nesbitt (ed.), Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965-1995, Princeton Architectural Press, 1996.

Joan Ockman, (ed.), Architecture Culture 1943-68: A Documentary Anthology, New York: Rizzoli 1993

Juhanni Pallasma, The Eyes of the Skin, John Wiley, 2005

Antoine Picon, “A New Technological Landscape,” from Sage Handbook of Architectural Theory, 2012

Davide Ponzini, Michele Nastasi, Starchitecture. Scenes, Actors, and Spectacle in Contemporary Cities, Allemandi & C., 2011.

Aldo Rossi, The Architecture of the City, Cambridge: MIT Press, 1978.

Joseph Rykwert, On Adam’s House in Paradise, The Idea of the Primitive Hut in Architectural History, 1972.

Alessandro Santarossa, Designing Invasions. A Study of the Military Nature of Mass Tourism, Aracne, 2012.

Patrik Schumaker, The Autopoesis of Architecture, 2010-2012.

Salvatore Spataro, ed., NEEDS, Architecture in Developing Countries, 2013.

Manfredo Tafuri, Theories and History of Architecture, 1976.

Robert Venturi, Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture, 1966.

Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Stephen Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, 1972.

Anthony Vidler, The Architectural Uncanny. Essays in the Modern Unhomely, MIT Press, 1992.

Anthony Vidler, Histories of the Immediate Present, MIT Press, 2008.

Paul Virilio, Julie Rose, City of Panic, Berg, 2007.

Mirko Zardini, Sense of the City, An Alternate Approach to Urbanism, CCA, 2006


Note Sulla Modalità di valutazione

Each student will be obliged to take a test at mid-semester based on identifications and interpretations of key works (30% of grade). They also will prepare a 20-page research project in teams of 3 people, preparing case studies on three selected spaces on the edge of Milan, (due Nov. 9, 30% of grade). This work involves graphic analysis, participant observation and interviewing. The final project involves the production of a 5 minute video. Revisions for this work will be given during the month of November; and submitted for exhibition on Dec. 14 and Dec. 21 (40% of grade). Students will also have the option to participate in the Terra Viva Workshops, offered one or two weekends per month throughout the year (2 workshops=4cfu). In these they will realize projects with hands-on participation in the Parco Agricolo Sud. 

Required text: Sprawltown. Looking for the City on Its Edges, NY: Princeton Architectural Press, 2006.

Non-attending students are the responsible for knowing the material of the lectures(which are on the BEEP) and mastering a selected bibliography of 10 texts. They must appear for an oral exam at the scheduled date.


Mix Forme Didattiche
Tipo Forma Didattica Ore didattiche
laboratorio informatico
laboratorio sperimentale
laboratorio di progetto

Informazioni in lingua inglese a supporto dell'internazionalizzazione
Insegnamento erogato in lingua Inglese
Disponibilità di materiale didattico/slides in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di libri di testo/bibliografia in lingua inglese
Possibilità di sostenere l'esame in lingua inglese
Disponibilità di supporto didattico in lingua inglese
schedaincarico v. 1.6.5 / 1.6.5
Area Servizi ICT