Concordia University

ARTH 355 Studies in Architecture: Africa. Architecture. Modernity.

  • Mondays, 15:00-17:30
  • EV-1-615
  • Instructor: Alan Avorgbedor

This course will examine the complexities and possibilities of African architectural expression and its relationship to the project of “Modern Architecture.” The course will focus on selective West African aesthetic norms and sensibilities to develop an understanding of how conventional notions of architecture and modernity are mediated, challenged, or displaced in West African contexts. Drawing on methods of analysis that include postcolonial theory, discourse analysis, and formal analysis, students will critically assess the thematic binaries of Tradition & Modernity, Decolonization & Neocolonialism, and Sacred & Secular formalisms as a network of social and aesthetic factors that shape architectural realities. Consequently, the course will critically examine the idea of Africa and its relationship to legacies of Modern Architecture, the International Style, Tropical Modernism, as well as uniquely African modernisms and modalities that inform the complex ways in which individuals inhabit and relate to built form and space. Examples of contemporary and post-independence architecture will be studied and understood in the context of the demands imposed by development mandates, globalization and commodification.

Students will examine factors that have traditionally governed the selection of forms that constitute African architectural and aesthetic dispositions to provide a deeper cultural framework from which to complicate notions of Africa, Architecture, and Modernity. The course will be organized around lectures, readings, class discussions, presentations and assignments that will develop critical tools to analyze and address the socio-cultural, political, economic, and aesthetic imaginaries that position an African relationship to architecture and modernity.

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