Architectural Design Theory and Criticism

Undergrad course, UC Berkeley (fall 2020, Greig Crysler), Sole GSI

The course provides an introduction to the ideas that have informed design thinking from the 19th century to the present, with an emphasis on the debates of the last four decades. The course explores significant changes in theory and practice across the design disciplines and professions (with particular emphasis on architecture), and considers how they are intertwined with larger social and historical forces. 

Over the semester, students develop a proposal to transform an architectural or urban space (broadly defined) through a temporary intervention that participates in reorienting public perception, imagination, and politics. Their intervention draws heavily on the tradition of spatial highjacking and counter-appropriation developed by the Situationist International, stressing in particular the alignment of space and politics through commitments to issues such as racial justice, the environment, and public health. But they may also be inspired by the use of these techniques within longer histories of dissent, ranging from the labor movements and the suffragettes of the 19th and early 20th century, to the civil rights, anti-war, gay liberation, disability rights and environmental movements of the 1960s. Students may choose to examine contemporary forms of solidarity, such as Black Lives Matter, and Extinction Rebellion, both of which demand social justice through powerful forms of community building and spatial occupation. They all embody a fundamental and widely held claim: the right to the city by marginalized groups.