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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Undergraduate Course: Culture and Performance in the History of Construction. (ARCH10023)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThe course is based on broad queries on the structural performance and technology of historic construction systems. Research on a wide extent of types and forms highlights issues beyond the technical problems and design strategies, of wider interest to students of the culture of building, its agents and its evolution. The course attempts an alternative reading of architectural forms through the technical processes and culture that produced them. It is of primary use to students with an interest in the technology of historic forms and their conservation, but also to all those who want to reflect on the complex array of conditions and their interaction in the historic development of building forms.

This course reviews the historic aspects of the culture of construction as the ¿highly interconnected process between craft and science¿, beyond a historic survey. The histories and theories of architecture are critically appraised within the building processes that created architectural design. Building is examined as the manifestation of technological advancement of increasingly organised societies and the role of individuals like masons rather than designers and patrons, in materialising collective aspirations and co-ordinating endeavour. The knowledge of the performance of these processes can inform current architectural and engineering practice as well. Aspects of architectural conservation are also integrated as they are relevant to the critical process of selection or survival of these manifestations.
Some specific areas in the field are selected like the creation of fire-proof long spans, lessons from disasters, technology transfer, tectonics of fabric, processes of assembly. Each area is examined in a seminar through recurring themes like masons and patronage, efficiency and performance, regional variations, cultural context, production practice. The students have the opportunity to reproduce some of these processes at a model scale and engage with the experience.
Course description 1. The idea of building (the prehistoric builder, vernacular construction)
2. Hiding the fabric (Roman, baroque, neoclassicism)
3. Prominence of the fabric (tectonics, early modernism, brickwork, artificial ruins)
4. Building fabric as a sculpture (the classic world, neoclassicism)
5. Optimisation and fire-proof long spans (Roman, Gothic, early shells)
6. Learning from ruins (Romanesque, late Roman)
7. Transmission of knowledge (empirical rules, scientific approach, building
8. Processes of assembly (timber and steel structures, Renaissance, neoclassicism)
9. Lessons from disasters (Beauvais, WTC, Ronan Point, Royal Mile, London Fire)
10. Technology transfer (industrialisation, Gothic to Greece and the Levant, colonies)

The Course reviews the design strategies, structural performance and technology of historic construction systems towards the understanding of the culture of building, its agents and its evolution. Lectures are organised along design themes and approaches, which are then practised in workshops that aim to develop surveying and traditional construction skills. Ultimately, this alternative reading of historic architectural forms provides precedents from past achievements and failures in structural engineering.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesSimilar to normal UoE pre-requisites; in most cases for Honours courses we would put a general pre-requisite e.g. For HoA honours student normally have at least 3 HoA courses at grade B or above. This allows the CHSS visiting student office to assess applications from visiting students.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  25
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 98 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course is assessed 100% by coursework, according to the following weighting for the Learning Outcomes:
LO1 20%
LO2 30%
LO3 30%
LO4 20%
Feedback Feedback of the marked coursework is given by a form directly to each student through Learn and is mapped on the Learning Outcomes of the course. As this is happens at the end of teaching, broader feedback on the performance of the class is sent by email. Earlier feedback on the performance of the models is given during an interim review.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand how historic and often unfamiliar structural schemes became possible as a condition of materials procurement, technical context, design practices and the gradual development of structural engineering theory and its principles
  2. Analyse historic structural and constructional strategies as a different range of engineering materials and components by surveying a building type and appraising the construction processes, design approach and use of materials
  3. Critically appraise the structural performance or construction process of a historic building type by creating a model and devising appropriate simulation and testing techniques.
  4. Reflect on the performance of the model and critically appraise the design and construction of historic building type in a clear and analytical report
Reading List
Acland, J. H. (1972). Medieval structure: the gothic vault. Univ. of Toronto Press, Toronto.
Addis, B (2010). 3,000 Years of Design, Engineering and Construction. Phaidon
Croci, G. (2001) Conservation and Structural restoration of architectural heritage. WIT
Heyman, J. (1998). The stone skeleton.
Institution of Structural Engineers (1991). Guide to surveys and inspections of buildings and similar structures
Mainstone, R. J. (1998). Developments in structural form. Architectural Press.
Nicholson, Peter (1828). A Popular and Practical Treatise on Masonry and Stone-cutting (1st ed.). London: Thomas Hurst.
Ousterhout, R. (2008). Master Builders of Byzantium. 2nd edition, University of Pennsylvania Museum Publications
Theodossopoulos, D. (2012). Structural design in building conservation. Routledge
Yeomans, DT 1999. The development of timber as a structural material. Ashgate/ Variorum
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsConstruction history,conservation,construction,masonry,structural form
Course organiserDr Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Tel: (0131 6)50 2300
Course secretaryMrs Lyndsay Hagon
Tel: (0131 6)51 5735
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