Postgraduate Course: Thinking With Fire (Level 11) (ARCH11281)
|School||Edinburgh College of Art
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||In current discourse, Fire has become a powerful metaphor for understanding climate change. Activists assert that ¿Our House is on Fire¿, while historians suggest we think of our current geological epoch as a ¿Pyrocene¿. Fire has long been recognised as both a constructive and destructive agent, key to the emergence of human civilisation but also a risk to it. Nonetheless, the importance of this element for both urban safety and planetary health have perhaps never been greater. This course studies the way fire has shaped our built and natural environments, but also the way this element offers explanatory metaphors for environmental change. It invites students from architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and related disciplines to reflect on the way fire has, and might, shape thinking in their own field.
This course studies the ways that our built and natural environments have been shaped by fire. It does so through lectures and seminars that study texts prompted by fires in natural or designed environments; by new technologies of construction and environmental conditioning, or by natural and anthropogenic fires occurring in urban and landscape contexts. The selected texts are drawn from a range of disciplines; the history and theory of architecture, landscape architecture and engineering, but also related fields including art history, cultural studies, economics, earth science, engineering, sociology, literature, and philosophy. By studying these texts, the course will reflect on fire as a physical tool for modifying environments, but also as a conceptual tool for understanding environmental change. Reading between these texts, the course will track tensions between our physical and conceptual mastery of fire, and so between the environmental sciences and humanities. Through their own contributions to seminars, and through essays exploring selected research topics, students will be challenged to explore how fire and fire metaphors might help us to imagine a more sustainable future for our cities and wildlands.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 10,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20.5,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 0.5,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
The assessment is based on two assignments:
Assignment 1: Course Journal
3000 words. Assessed against Learning Outcomes 1 and 3. Submitted during exam period. 40% of the student's term grade. Over the course of the semester, students are to compile a reading Journal. Each entry should reflect on a single text selected from the week's reading list. Each journal entry should demonstrate an understanding about how the specific author thinks about fire, identifying particular technical and conceptual problems and opportunities associated with this element. Across the duration of the Journal, entries are expected to demonstrate an increasingly contextualised understanding, comparing and contrasting individual authors' ways of thinking about fire. Journal entries should be c. 500 words each in length, carefully illustrated, and appropriately referenced. The submitted Journal should include six selected readings, and total no more than 3000 words.
Assignment 2: Research Project
3500 words. Assessed against Learning Outcomes 2 and 3. Submitted during exam period. 60% of the student's term grade. Students are to complete a research project that offers an original investigation of a theme introduced through the course. Research conducted might be historical, theoretical or by-design in mode; it might study the way a particular technology or fire contributed to the historical development of particular design practices, reflect theoretically on particular conceptual problems associated with fire, or study by-design the spatial and material impact of fire on designed environments. It should include a bibliography that engages with primary sources, extending beyond texts introduced through the course. The project should result in a textual response of no more than 3500 words in length, or a portfolio of comparable size. The submitted document should be carefully illustrated, well designed, and appropriately referenced.
||During the teaching period each student will present a short reading of a selected text to the class. The purpose of this presentation will be to (1) introduce to the class to a specific author and their disciplinary context; (2) to reflect historically on the authors engagement with fire, identifying material problems and opportunities associated with fire at the time of writing and; (3) to reflect on the way the author thinks about fire, identifying particular concepts and theories associated with this element. Students will be provided with verbal feedback on class presentations which will act as formative feedback on Learning Outcome 1.
During the teaching period each student will present their developing research project at an individual tutorial. This work should identify a particular historical, theoretical or by-design topic for further study. It should include a bibliography that engages with primary sources, extending beyond texts introduced through the course. Formative feedback will be offered against Learning Outcomes 2 and 3.
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- Demonstrate a critical understanding of a range of theories, concepts and principles employed by architects, landscape architects, and other thinkers, when addressing the problem of fire.
- Demonstrate capacity to develop an original and creative work of research on a theoretical or historical topic.
- Produce a coherent, well-designed and well-written piece of academic writing, following appropriate referencing conventions.
|Bachelard, Gaston. Psychoanalysis of Fire. Beacon Press, 1977 |
Bankoff, Greg, Uwe Lübken, Jordan Sand, and Stephen J. Pyne. Flammable Cities: Urban
Conflagration and the Making of the Modern World. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2012.
Bobbette, Adam. A Forensics of the Future: Fire Insurance Underwriting, Contingency, and Early 20th Century Materials. Journal of Architectural Education 67, no. 2 (July 3, 2013): 285-87.
Fernández-Galiano, Luis. Fire and Memory: On Architecture and Energy. MIT Press, 2000
Pyne, Stephen J. Vestal Fire: An Environmental History, Told Through Fire, of Europe and Europe's Encounter with the World. University of Washington Press, 2000.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||The graduate will have knowledge of:
The cultural, social and intellectual histories, theories and technologies that influence the design of buildings and landscapes.
How the theories, practices and technologies of the arts influence architectural and landscape architectural design.
Theories of urban design and the planning of communities.
Graduates will have a critical understanding of how knowledge is advanced through research to produce clear, logically argued and original written work relating to architectural culture, theory and design.*
|Course organiser||Mr Liam Ross
Tel: (0131 6)51 5781
|Course secretary||Mr Aidan Cole
Tel: (0131 6)50 2306