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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 Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
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.
Course description Some specific areas in the field are selected in the following list of lectures, examined through recurring themes like masons and patronage, efficiency and performance, regional variations, cultural context, production practice.

1: Origins of building - construction as ecosystem
2. Iron-age Scottish Brochs
3: Development of engineering science
4. Bonded masonry
5. Georgian construction
6: Frames and assembly
7: Roofs
8: Prominence of the structure
10: Construction of stone vaults
11: Regulating and transmitting knowledge

The lectures review the design strategies, structural performance and technology of historic construction systems towards the understanding of the culture of building, its agents and its evolution. 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
Not being delivered
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 studying 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 appropriate qualitative or numerical analysis techniques.
  4. Reflect on the performance of the historic building type and critically appraise its design and construction 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 Historic-critical analysis
Technical reporting
Writing of short essays

KeywordsConstruction history,conservation,construction,masonry,structural form
Course organiserDr Dimitrios Theodossopoulos
Tel: (0131 6)50 2300
Course secretaryMr Aidan Cole
Tel: (0131 6)50 2306
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