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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Architecture - History

Undergraduate Course: Architecture in Britain, 1951-97: Brutalism and Beyond (ARHI10048)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course engages with a dynamic and sometimes controversial subject: the post-war architecture of Scotland and Britain. Beginning with the immediate post-war context of reconstruction, it then examines how architecture and planning became tools by means of which to express and shape modernity. Through the study of buildings, texts, and the media, we will not only look at key buildings and architects but will also situate the architecture of this period in the wider political, social and cultural context. We will explore the ideas that shaped design, and the complex realities of practice. This period of architectural history continues to generate exciting new work by historians and arouses much public debate, especially where the conservation of its architecture is concerned.
Course description This course examines architecture and planning in Scotland and the wider UK between 1951 and 1997. We begin with the ending of post-war austerity in the early 1950s, and we conclude with the early days of New Labour in the late 1990s. During this period, new towns were built from scratch and others were comprehensively remodelled. Large sections of the population were rehoused by both the state and by private enterprise, new schools and universities were built, new shopping centres responded to changing patterns of consumer behaviour, and new environments for culture and leisure were created. Architecture and planning were tools by means of which to shape and reflect a range of agendas. For both the political left and right in the 1950s and 1960s, modern architecture and urban reconstruction embodied a dynamic, modern nation; during the 1970s and 1980s, some of the architectural products of the preceding decades were increasingly critically received as a new set of social and political agendas supplanted the 'post-war consensus'.

This course will focus initially on the boom years of the Welfare State, c. 1951-75, and then will consider the challenges that developed during the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. We will consider not only constructed buildings and urban developments but also unbuilt schemes, and the ways architecture was represented in print, image, and film. Our references will include some of the famous names of the period, such as James Stirling and the Smithsons, but we will also look at 'anonymous' architects working in public practice, as well as a range of designers whose work is now less well-known. We will explore the ideas that informed the architecture of the period. We will place it in a wider context, to understand how it related to its political, social and cultural context.

The course will be taught through a mixture of two-hour lectures and one-hour seminars. There will also be visits to archives at Historic Environment Scotland and Edinburgh University Library, and at least one key site in the Edinburgh area.

Post-war architecture continues to attract the attention of architectural historians. You will be able to engage with the latest research, and, potentially, to start to develop your own research agendas which might be continued at postgraduate level or through work in conservation.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Architectural History 1 (ARHI08005)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs 1 x site visit within Edinburgh - travel cost, up to 5/student.

Depending on demand, an optional day visit may be arranged to a site further away from Edinburgh, e.g. Cumbernauld or Glasgow, for which the cost could be in the order of c. 20/student.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History of Art/Architectural History courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.

** as numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course **
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge and understanding of architectural production in Britain between c. 1951 and 1997
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the cultural, political and historical contexts of British architecture during the second half of the twentieth century
  3. Locate, reflect on, and use a range of different forms of evidence, and to consider how and why historians have done so in the past
  4. Marshal material from a range of primary and secondary sources in support of arguments that challenge and extend our understanding of the architectural history of this period.
Reading List
A full reading list will be available at the start of the semester. The core surveys on which the course will draw are:

Elain Harwood, Space Hope and Brutalism: English Architecture 1945-75 (New Haven and London, 2015)
John R. Gold, The Practice of Modernism (London, 2007)
Alan Powers, Britain: Modern Architectures in History (London, 2007)
Nicholas Bullock, Building the Post-War World (London, 2002)
Miles Glendinning, Ranald Macinnes, and Aonghus MacKechnie, A History of Scottish Architecture, from the Renaissance to the Present Day (Edinburgh, 1996)
Lionel Esher, A Broken Wave: the Rebuilding of England, 1940-1980 (London, 1981)
Barnabas Calder, Raw Concrete: the Beauty of Brutalism (London, 2016)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Cognitive Attributes:
Critically review & consolidate existing knowledge in the field
Make judgements where data may be limited or comes from a range of sources

Communication Attributes
Demonstrate routine and specialist skills in presenting and conveying information formally and informally in writing and orally
Communicate with a range of audiences

Work Attributes
Work autonomously and demonstrate initiative
Work to bring about change and new thinking
KeywordsArchitectural History Scotland,Britain,Post-war
Course organiserDr Alistair Fair
Tel: (0131 6)51 3913
Course secretaryMrs Rosie Hall
Tel: 0131 651 5802
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