Experiencing World Architecture

Discipline: Architectural History
Instructor: Schrenk
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 0925
End: 1040
Field Work: Day 1 - Shanghai - Tuesday, 03 February | China Download Syllabus

Over fifty years ago Danish architect and urban planner Steen Eiler Rasmussen argued that architecture should be experienced through all the senses. The Semester at Sea program offers students an extraordinary opportunity to use their senses to explore manmade sites from many different eras ranging from traditional villages to prominent landmarks. The underlying goal of Experiencing World Architecture is to provide students with analytical tools that can help them achieve deeper understandings of the built environments they experience throughout their lives, starting with locations visited on the voyage. The course will also introduce students to basic architectural vocabulary.

In meeting its basic goal, the course addresses the cultural, social, economic, political, technological, and ideological facets of notable built environments from different cultures around the world, including the Pyramids, the Parthenon, Angkor Wat and the Forbidden City. Emphasis will also be placed on the architecture of sites that we will have the opportunity to see, such as the temples of Pagan, the skyscrapers of Hong Kong, the traditional and Dutch colonial housing around Cape Town, and the art deco architecture of Casablanca. Through exploring aspects, such as aesthetics, function, structure, environmental conditions, anthropometrics, and order, students will be able to more fully understand past and contemporary built environments, in particular how cultural meaning, symbolism, and significance are established through architectural forms.

Field Work

Country: China
Day: 1 - Shanghai - Tuesday, 03 February

An exploration of Shanghai provides the opportunity to clearly view the layering of architectural developments in an urban environment over time, from traditional temples sites to early colonial buildings to the recent appearance of soaring skyscrapers. The field lab for Experiencing World Architecture will begin with a stop at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Center to view the massive model of the city as it currently exists and several temporary exhibits. We will then travel to both commercial and residential districts via foot and public transportation. Visits will include YuYuan Gardens, Nanjing Lu, the Bund, the French Concession, the Expo 2010 fairgrounds, a lilong housing area, and Pudong, where we will go to the top of either Jin Mao or the Shanghai World Financial Center, one of the world’s tallest buildings to receive a bird’s-eye view of the city. We will then cross the river through the city’s tunnel of love, to compare the Bund at night to our experiences in the same area earlier in the day and to view the buildings of Pudong from across the river. Upon completion of the field lab, students will complete a three- to four-page journal entry comparing the functions, architectural forms, and physical context of two of the specific sites we visited in Shanghai. The entry should be based on both personal observations made at the sites and academic research completed while back on-board the ship. Note that there will be extensive walking on this field lab!!! Academic Objectives: 1.  To understand the historic layering of cities and how a city’s past informs and shapes its present conditions. 2.  To experience how the forms of Western and Eastern cultures came together to define the built environments of Shanghai 3. To develop skills used in understanding, interpreting, and discussing built environments.