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Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoria
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Scheda Riassuntiva
Anno Accademico 2019/2020
Scuola Scuola di Architettura Urbanistica Ingegneria delle Costruzioni
Docente Ingersoll Richard Joseph
Cfu 4.00 Tipo insegnamento Monodisciplinare
Didattica innovativa L'insegnamento prevede  2.0  CFU erogati con Didattica Innovativa come segue:
  • Blended Learning & Flipped Classroom

Corso di Studi Codice Piano di Studio preventivamente approvato Da (compreso) A (escluso) Nome Sezione Insegnamento

Obiettivi dell'insegnamento

Risultati di apprendimento attesi

Argomenti trattati


Politecnico di Milano,  school of architecture, urban planning construction engineering. CFU 4

Prof. Richard Ingersoll, Ph.D.

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 general 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, nor was the underlying theory of functionalism acceptable. It would now have to include other factors such as commodification, irony, and otherness. Logocentrism and logical positivism were overturned as the philosophical core of an architect’s reasoning, in response to 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 a new imperative: the Ecology Question. The awareness that the anthropogenic causes of climate change are directly linked to architectural practice demands a theoretical paradigm shift. Just at the time when 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 nine lectures will gloss over the theories, texts, and works received in the 1960s, referring specifically to Le Corbusier, Jane Jacobs, Aldo Rossi, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott-Brown, the Italian Radicals, Archigram, and Japanese Metabolism. From there we will enter into the formal criteria of sprawltown, considering the dominant mode of development outlined in the book Mapping Sprawl. A critique of graphic methods of urban anaylsis by Arian Heidari Afshari and Richard Ingersoll (Milano: Maggioli Editori, 2018). Next we will consider a local situation, the numerous tower complexes constructed in Milan by the Sicilian developer Salvatore Ligresti (1932-2018, twice convicted for corruption) and his family. These buildings and their adjacent sites will be the topic of the research executed by students during the course. Other theory questions covered in the lectures include Postmodernism, Critical Regionalism, Infrastructure as Art, Deconstruction, the Critical Picturesque, Hypertecture, the Postcard City, and the Ecology Question. Some of the authors include Charles Correa, Kenneth Frampton, Rem Koolhaas, Luis Fernandez Galiano, Margaret Crawford, Anthony Vidler, and Paul Virilio. The urgency of climate change requires a new paradigm, and we will consider from the start a variety of architectural theories and practices linked to catastrophism, energy, landscape, and agriculture. Land Architecture, Agricivismo, and the birth of the agritect, are concepts that we have been exploring in previous versions of this course. They emerge within the new social frames of mass tourism, despatialization through digital media, and catastrophism. The role of the architect is rapidly transforming into an exclusively keyboard activity with ever less contact with the real world. Much of the developed world appears overbuilt with vast reserves of uninhabited structures (such as the Ligresti towers) and abandoned spaces, plus ever greater works we call Hypertecture--super-scaled buildings conceived as icons. In many instances design has atrophied according to outmoded systems of production rather than making progress toward sustainability. This mismatch of real needs versus false values comes from a previous generation’s ambitions rooted in speculative development. While architects and design professionals remain in the service of such unchecked economic interests, and they are generally unable to alter this superstructure, they should nonetheless be more aware of the impact of their practice in an increasingly delicate planetary crisis. 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

 Death and Life. Architectural and Urban discussions around 1968.

What does an architect do? Should architects save the world? Typology versus Social pressures? The advent of Postmodernism in response to insensitive Functionalism. The Rise of Consumerism.


            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

            Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, Steven Izenour, Learning from Las Vegas, 1972 (excerpts).“A significance for A&P Parking Lots”, “The Ugly and Ordinary,”


  • A General Theory of the Postmodern City

The theory of sprawl and the parameters of formal research.


            Afshari/Ingersoll, Mapping Sprawl. A critique of graphic methods of urban anaylsis

            Ingersoll “Public Space in the Age of Climate Change”;

            Boeri/Lanzani, “The Three Cities of the Milan Region”


  • Sprawltown Milano. Ligrestopoli and its regeneration.


            Boeri/Lanzani, “The Three Cities of the Milan Region”

            Milano PGT: http://pgtmilano.ordinearchitetti.mi.it/


  • Debunking Modernism with linguistic theories and social theories. Semiotics versus Critical Regionalism, Symbolism versus Realism

The struggle between theory and practice during the 1970s and 80s. Frampton’s efforts to counteract the overly symbolic attitudes related to linguistic theory. From consumerist style to a new Realism.


          Charles Jencks, “Postmodernism”

          Kenneth Frampton, “Critical Regionalism”

          Margaret Crawford, “Everyday Urbanism”

          Leon Krier, “Architecture, Choice or Fate”


  • From Laissez-Faire to Lazy Fairies. Koolhaas’s Profound Ironies

Rem Koolhaas has produced the most influential texts in the late 20th century, first with his tribute to the latent theory of “Culture of Congestion” in Delirious NY, and later with his yielding to the un controllable processes of Bigness.


          Rem Koolhaas, “Delirious New York”, 1978; “Generic City”, “Bigness”, from SMLXL, 1994; “Junkspace” 2004; David Harvey, Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism


  • Infrastructure as Art. The Cultivation of Urban Readymades


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

             Paul Virilio, City of Panic

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

             Arian Heidari Afshari, “Sprawlification”

            Michael Dear “Postmodern Urbanism” 1998


  • Lifestyles changes. Tourism and the commodified city

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


           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.

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

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


  • The Ecology Question

As climate change becomes normal, so will the various remedies. The opposition of organic versus inorganic; agricivismo versus hypertecture; linear economies versus circular economies.


           Ingersoll, Sprawltown chapter 5 “The Ecology Question”

           Naomi Klein, This Changes Everything. Capitalism versus the Climate

          Carlyyn Steel, “Sitopia”

          Calthorpe, Urbanism in the Age of Climate Change

          Gilles Clément, Manifesto of the Third Landscape, 2005


  • Citizen Nomad, Smart City, Dumb People.

Never in the history of the planet, excepting perhaps during the Paleolithic age of hunter gatherers, has such a percentage of humanity been migrating. This mobility has a deep impact on place and is becoming one of the central political issues of the age. An architecture of instability follows this trend. The United Nations claims that 95% of humanity has a cell phone and at least 70% use internet. Free Wifi promises to be as important for urban situations as water fountains. As people gain increasing external memory in the processes of the Smart City, they are simultaneously losing their conscious memories. Virtualism aspires to replace reality as the pathology of Hikikomori seems to attest.


            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

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

            MVRDV, Metacity. Datatown, 1999.

            Susanah Hagan, Digitalia, Architecture and the Digital, 2008 

10)  Test, given in two sittings

11)  revisions

  • Last revisions
  • final presentations
  • 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.

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


Modalità di valutazione

Course work:

  • Each student will be obliged to take a test at mid-semester based on the assigned readings and identifications and interpretations of key works (30% of grade).
  • In teams of 3, students will prepare a research project (10 pages), concerning case studies focused on three selected spaces on the eastern edge of Milan, (30% of grade). This work involves graphic analysis, examination of secondary sources, and participant observation through interviewing.
  • Each team will produce a final project (four panels) using analytical and graphic methods defined in Mapping Sprawl, Afshari/Ingersoll (2018). (40% of grade).

Required text: Afshari/Ingersoll, Mapping Sprawl. A Critique of Graphic Methods of Urban Analysis, 2018.

for non-attending students there will be an oral test based on the mandatory books and supplementary bibliographies

Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoriaMapping sprawl: a critique of graphic methods of urban analysis , ISBN: 78-88-916305-0-6
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoriaSprawltown: looking for the city on its edges, ISBN: 15-689-8566-5
Risorsa bibliografica obbligatoriaArchitecture theory since 1968 , ISBN: 978-02-625-8188-2

Software utilizzato
Nessun software richiesto

Forme didattiche
Tipo Forma Didattica Ore di attività svolte in aula
Ore di studio autonome
Laboratorio Informatico
Laboratorio Sperimentale
Laboratorio Di Progetto
Totale 40:00 60:00

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

Note Docente
schedaincarico v. 1.7.2 / 1.7.2
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