Contemporary Architecture

Prof. Ivan R. Shumkov PhD, Iversity

The course analyzed major contemporary architectural ideas and projects in the context of globalization. We traced the development of architecture since the 1990s by discussing some of the most important topics and influential architects of our time.

About this course

Our course will analyze major contemporary architectural ideas, ideologies, and projects in the context of both globalization and specific local contexts. We will trace the development of architecture since the early 90s by discussing the work of some of the most influential architects of our time. The critical reflection on contemporary topics will allow students to better understand the buildings and cities which we live in. When talking about the architectural protagonists of today, we will focus on their most recent work. Some references will be made to their earlier work, but the focus will be on how they adapt their thinking to current design tendencies. We will examine the evolution of their work and at the same time try to understand how they react to current challenges and opportunities in our profession and society.

Course Schedule

  • Week 1 (15/10/13) Globalization and Critical Regionalism: Rafael Moneo, Steven Holl; Design and Online Education, Behind the Scenes
  • Week 2 (22/10/13) Tectonic, Technology and Structure: Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers, Norman Foster
  • Week 3 (29/10/13) Critical Discourse and Architecture: Rem Koolhaas, Peter Eisenmann, Bernard Tschumi
  • Week 4 (05/11/13) Surface, Materiality, and Ornament: Herzog & De Meuron, Jean Nouvel, SANAA The Midterm Exam will start on November 7, 2013 and run for 10 days. Virtual Classroom #1 on November 8 at 10am NYC time, 4pm CET.
  • Week 5 (12/11/13) Midterm assignments are due before 11:59pm CET on November 17 Virtual Classroom #2 on November 15 at 10am NYC time, 4pm CET. NYC Architectural Tour on November 16 at 3pm will start in Washington Square.
  • Week 6 (19/11/13) Peer-to-peer evaluations are due before 11:59pm CET on November 24
  • Week 7 (26/11/13) Form, Sign and Sculpture: Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Santiago Calatrava
  • Week 8 (10/12/13) Digital Design and Computation: UN Studio, FOA, Zaha Hadid
  • Week 9 (16/12/13) Sustainability and Resilience: Wiliam McDonough, Kongjian Yu, Norman Foster, Worldchanging
  • Week 10 (25/12/13) Social Design and Activism: Medellin, Bogota, Giancarlo Mazzanti, Exhibitions
  • Week 11 (06/01/14) Final Exam starts on January 6 and is due at 6pm CET on January 13 Final Video Assignment starts on December 30 and is due at 6pm CET on January 13
  • Week 12 (13/01/14)**Peer-to-peer evaluations** are due before 6pm CET on January 20 The Course Certificate will be awarded on February 10, 2014

The course will offer Virtual Classroom videoconference every Friday at 10am NYC time (4pm CET).

Exercises and Assignments

Students will do research and critical analysis of architecture. They will analyze and comment on the projects presented in each chapter of the course. They will also explore buildings in the cities where they live and visit, according to the concepts introduced in the course, by taking pictures and making videos. The work will be posted every week on the course forum and discussed with others. A selection of the best projects and posts will be featured in an exhibit after completing the course.

What will you learn?

The course will introduce participants to the contemporary architecture scene and allow them to position themselves into it. Students will acquire the essential skills for looking at, analyzing and understanding architecture. The final goal is to turn use architecture as a way to look at the places that we inhabit, an action for positive change, and a generator of a vision for making possible worlds.

Our basic questions

  1. What are current trends in architecture?
  2. Who are the protagonists that shape our cities?
  3. What can architecture do to improve our living conditions?
  4. What are the most significant buildings of our time?
  5. How can we improve the quality of life in our cities?

Who is this course for and what prior knowledge do you need?

The course is both for the general public and for people with experience in architecture, so any person can take it. Basic knowledge of architecture is recommended but not necessary. If you are already a student of architecture, this would be a way to expand and further your studies in a global context. If you are already an architect you can learn about the recent developments of the profession and be inspired for your work. if you have general cultural curiosity about architecture, this course will introduce you to some basic concepts that would allow you to understand better the values and importance of architecture.

How much will you have to work?

Living in the world of architecture is a full-time job, but you’ll have to spend 2-3 hours per week with your computer and a few more exploring your city. The final assignment will take a few days to complete if you want to qualify for the exposition.


You will receive a certificate for the course after you complete all the assignments. If you include it in your CV, remember that the course is offered by "Open Online Academy, New York."

Study groups and tours

The course will feature guided virtual tours and study groups. Students will be encouraged to set up Meetups in their cities and universities to discuss the course content.

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