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Ethnography and the Seattle library.

Welsh School of Architecture
ICA 2018-19
EACH STUDENT MUST SIGN UP as advised FOR ONE PRESENTATION by 12.00 on Thursday 4 October.
Approach and perspective to be agreed with year tutor on Thursday 11 October.
The presentation counts as 10% of the assessment of the module. You should research the building in
journals, books and on the internet, and decide within your group how the work is to be shared and
how you will present it. The presentation should last 8 minutes and no more and the Powerpoint
contain no more than 16 slides and at least 50% of the graphics should be your own. All members of
students must present. It is advised that it is divided into three roughly equal parts in relation to the
approach and focus selected:
(a) ‘Practice’. An explanation of the building or project, and the architectural commission. Where is
the site? Who was the client? What was the brief? The presentation should include plans and sections
as well as photographs, all as Powerpoint slides, to describe the organisation of the building and how
one moves around and through it in relation to the perspective selected. The description should be
simple and clear, leaving the discussion of conceptual ideas for the second part of the presentation.
(b) ‘Theory’. An exposition of the architect’s ideas and of published interpretations of the project but
this based or in relation to the specific perspective. What ideas did the architect bring to the work?
What have they said or written about the project? What have the critics written about it?
(c) ‘Conclusions’. Conclusions should be drawn about the relationship between practice and theory in
the example studied. How successfully has the relationship been made apparent? How did the ideas
inform the work? Are project and argument integrated into a seamless whole? Or is there little or no
connection? Conclusions should be critical and honest. They should avoid the trap of recycling what
the architect or the critics say, of trying to be too clever, or of being dominated by a preconceived
idea of what tutors might want to hear.
Note: Powerpoint presentations will be submitted via Learning Central as group work on Monday
22nd October and this will be made available to all cohort.
C.2. Essay (90%)
An essay of 2,000 words on a topic of your choice, following the guidelines outlined below.
Subject: You should choose a subject bearing in mind the question of the relationship between
architectural theory and practice. Your subject should reflect on an issue in contemporary
architecture, interpreted in the broadest sense: your material can be modern, or centuries old, as
long as your argument is meaningful for the present. While the choice of topic is free, you are
required to focus on, and explore relationships between, the following:
A. A building or buildings: a single building or a part of a building, a group, street, city etc.; a building
type, architectural tradition, period, movement; the work of a particular architect etc. Your choice of
building(s) does not have to be monumental: you can just as well choose a bicycle shed as Lincoln
Cathedral, even if Nikolaus Pevsner did say ‘A bicycle shed is a building; Lincoln Cathedral is a piece of
architecture’ (first line of An Outline of European Architecture).
B. An idea or idea(s): a concept, notion, theory, philosophy, world-view (ascribable to an individual, to
a group, or to a tradition). This may be specifically architectural (truth to materials, Renaissance
theories of proportion, Le Corbusier’s idea of the object type etc.) or from elsewhere in the realms of
Welsh School of Architecture
ICA 2018-19
culture (Lacanian Psychoanalysis, Phenomenology, Neo-Platonism, Michel Foucault’s ‘Panopticism’
You should choose something small and manageable, both for the building and the idea/subject. If you
take on a whole tradition and a whole philosophy, then it is probably wise to reflect on them through
one specific building and writing.
In the course of your essay you must:
a. describe the building(s)
b. explain the idea(s)
c. explore relationships between the two.
In exploring the relationship, you will not necessarily show that the connections are strong (you might
show, for example, that an architect’s written ideas are poorly expressed in his or her architecture).
Try to argue critically about the nature of the relationship. Ideas may ‘generate’ architecture, but
never on their own, and different kinds of architecture can stem from the same idea. Is the
relationship one of causality, or of analogy or parallel? Do not assume that words come before forms:
a thought can be expressed visually before it is articulated verbally, and perhaps the same intuition
can be realized in words and images independently.
Format and style
The essay is to be of 2,000 words, with illustrations (to be referenced if these are not yours)
integrated with the text and care taken with the layout, on A4 paper. You are encouraged to include
analytical drawings of your own. All references should be given in footnotes or endnotes, with full
details in a bibliography. Guidelines for notes and the bibliography can be found on the S Drive:
S:\TEACHING\WRITING, ‘Citing References at WSA’. At the front of the essay should be a Summary of
its content and argument, of about 100 words.
The essay should be formal and academic, using appropriate language. This does not mean that it
should be stilted and unimaginative, but it should be rigorous, with a structured argument, and,
above all, clear. It should have an introduction and a conclusion; it should guide the reader through
the argument, with headed sections and subsections wherever helpful. Revise and polish your drafts,
ruthlessly cutting out extraneous ramblings and padding.
Quote or paraphrase whenever appropriate, acknowledging sources, but never slip in second-hand,
ill-digested passages. Do not be tempted to do this, even if English (or Welsh) is not your first
language. Even with faulty English, interesting thoughts and a reasoned argument can shine through.
Academic writing does not mean pretentious writing: simplicity is usually a virtue, and hard to

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