The concept of the narrative has a long tradition in architectural discourse. The elective starts with a hypothesis, namely that the concept lies at the very core of what we do: embedding architecture in its social, political and philosophical context is essentially a narrative function.
The manifestations of this concept, however, are myriad and as sharply divergent as architecture itself. We will look at a number of examples across architectural history and will analyze these to discover links that transcend formal boundaries.
We will look at obvious examples such as the powerful narratives of church and synagogue design, the equally readable historicist attempts of Victorian and “Wilhelminian” architects to connect to supposedly linear narratives, and of course the idealizations of revolutionary architecture in France as well as the idea of the folly and the English landscape garden. Yet, we will also delve into the work of Lebbeus Woods, Archigram, Alexander Brodsky and many others.
The elective is very much an exploratory course that might well result in a realization that the hypothesized connectivity between the narrative qualities surveyed is not, after all, as strong as assumed at the beginning. As the Physicist Richard Feynman once famously said, it’s about “the pleasure of finding things out”.
The elective will be divided into three parts: A series of lectures by myself to introduce the subject, including some guests who will speak to their own work and/or research on the subject. This is interspersed with case studies presented by students. Finally, a graphic result will be produced that is then presented at the end of the semester in a small exhibition at an art venue in Berlin. For the presentation we will have guest judges.
Time constraints for the case study and graphic presentations mandate a restriction to a total of 20 participants. Excellent knowledge of the english language is a big plus for this elective…!