Architecture (ARCH) 200

History of Ideas in Architecture I (Revision 1)


Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

ARCH 200: History of Ideas in Architecture I is intended for students enrolled in the BSc (Architecture) program at the RAIC Centre for Architecture at Athabasca University. For those students interested in pursuing a career as a registered architect, this course also contributes to the RAIC Syllabus Diploma.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Applied Studies

Prerequisite: None. ENGL 255 is strongly recommended

Centre: RAIC Centre for Architecture

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Throughout ARCH 200 you will examine the principles and ideas that shaped architecture and cities in the Ancient and Medieval worlds from about 3500 BCE to about 1400 CE. You will first examine how the principles of the Ancient World were altered after ca. 600 BCE in Classical Greece, Israel, Persia, India, and the Americas, and how the climax and collapse of the Ancient world can be read in the architecture of the time. Then you will examine the principles and ideas that shaped buildings and cities both by and for world religions from ca. 300 CE to ca. 1450 CE.

By studying the course commentary, textbooks, scholarly articles, and visual and primary sources, you will learn about both this long and eventful period of the history of architecture, and how scholars study it. As you work through the six units, you will complete a series of exercises and assignments that will assist you in honing the skills necessary for future research projects.

Course Outline

Using A Global History of Architecture as a primary reference, the course is organized around a series of themed units designed to develop visual literacy in the history and principles of architecture. Themes will not be limited in the chronological sequence to the first evidence of their appearance; their use, transformation, and development will be tracked forward to more recent times. The units and the referenced ancillary sources should, however, be studied in the sequence that follows:

  • Unit 1: Shaping Environments and Monuments, Early Antiquity to 1500 BCE
  • Unit 2: Learning to See: The Rationalism of the Greeks and Sculptured Space, 1500 BCE‒100 BCE
  • Unit 3: Architecture as Power Imagery: Imperial Rome, Han China, and Mesoamerica, 100 BCE‒200 CE
  • Unit 4: Architecture of Persuasion: Building Images for New Ideas in a Changing World, 200 CE‒700 CE
  • Unit 5: Building in the Service of Belief: Monasteries, Pilgrimage Shrines, and Heavenly Monuments, 400 CE‒1200 CE
  • Unit 6: Architecture as Mystical Experience: Cathedral, Mosque, Tomb, and Temple Architecture, 800 CE‒1400 CE

Learning Outcomes

By analyzing visual evidence and the accompanying literature, with specific reference to a series of monuments as case studies, you will discern

  • essential details: nomenclature, locations, builders, significant dates, and chronologies.
  • visual evidence: original as-built, change over time, and current state.
  • reasons for original construction: the beliefs, values, and intentions that motivated the builders, and how those are revealed in as-built plans, form, or decorative details.
  • manner of use: the rituals, activities, and events the buildings were intended to accommodate.
  • method of construction: the contribution of evolving technologies, types of building materials, and how geography, environment, and climate influenced their form and function.
  • geopolitical, chronological, or ideological contexts for these structures and how they are the same as or different from other buildings that responded to similar stimuli in different times or places.

Course Evaluation

Your final grade in Architecture 200 is based on the grades you achieve on 6 assignments. The chart below indicates the assignments for credit and their weighting towards your final grade.

Course Activity Weighting Due Date
Assignment 1 5% After Unit 1
Assignment 2 10% After Unit 2
Assignment 3 20% After Unit 3
Assignment 4 15% After Unit 4
Assignment 5 30% After Unit 5
Assignment 6 20% After Unit 6
Total 100%

To receive credit for ARCH 200 you must complete all assignments and achieve a minimum composite course grade of 67 percent.

Course Materials

Textbooks (print):

Two published textbooks provide the reference materials for the course.

  1. Ching, Francis D. K. (Advisory Ed.), Jarzombek, Mark M., & Prakash, Vikramaditya (2011). A Global History of Architecture. (2nd ed.) Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
  2. Spanning the period from 3500 BCE to the present, this text is written by a team of architectural experts in their fields who emphasize the connections, contrasts, and influences of architectural movements throughout history. The architectural history of the world is examined through a unified framework for interpreting and understanding architecture, and is supplemented by schematic drawings, as well as photographs. The bibliography, organized by chronological period,is extensive. Also note the glossary of architectural terms. Backing up this text is a companion website, including Google EarthTM coordinates for ease of finding sites.

  3. Kruft, Hanno-Walter (1994). A History of Architectural Theory from Vitruvius to the Present. New York, NY: Princeton Architectural Press.
  4. Beginning with the 1st-century BCE Roman writer Vitruvius, and following through to the 20th-century early postmodernists of the 1970s, Kruft addresses theorists and critics through the lens of their times. He positions their texts within their social, religious, and political settings, linking them to current ideologies and often to actual buildings. Illustrations drawn from many of the texts provide a visual narrative. Extensive footnotes and primary and secondary bibliographies back up the text.

Online Materials

Course Home Page (online): The course home page houses all the online components of your course.

Study Schedule (online): The study schedule on your course home page includes the Course Information, the six units of the Study Guide, links to the online readings, and links to your assignments.

Course Information (online): You are now reading the Course Information, which provides specific information about how to proceed through the course. Read the Course Information carefully before you begin reading the Study Guide.

Study Guide (online): The Study Guide units are embedded in the Study Schedule on the course home page.

Assignments (online): The assignments are on the course home page, along with helpful instructions.

Undergraduate Student Handbook (online): The Undergraduate Student Handbook contains essential information on administrative and academic procedures for students.

Forms: Forms you may need are available through the myAU portal.

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 1, August 28, 2013.

Updated August 19 2016 by Student & Academic Services