The Harvard Graduate School of Design is beginning a new online course on architecture this month, to be delivered free to students via the edX learning platform. To begin on 28 February, the 10-week free online course titled The Architectural Imagination aims to teach participants about the cultural backdrop to architecture and how to “read” architecture “as a cultural expression as well as a technical achievement”.

Students joining the course will be guided by its creators, K. Michael Hays, Eliot Noyes Professor of Architectural Theory and associate dean for academic affairs, Harvard University; Erika Naginski, professor of architectural history and director of graduate studies, Harvard University; and Antoine Picon, G. Ware Travelstead Professor of the History of Architecture and Technology and technology director of research, Harvard University.

The Architectural Imagination course requires up to five hours of engagement per week.

A statement on Harvard GSD’s website reads:

“Architecture is one of the most complexly negotiated and globally recognised cultural practices, both as an academic subject and a professional career. Its production involves all of the technical, aesthetic, political, and economic issues at play within a given society. Over the course of ten modules, we’ll examine some of history’s most important examples that show how architecture engages, mediates, and expresses a culture’s complex aspirations.”

Course participants will also study landmark buildings, selected for their cultural and architectural importance from various historical contexts, with hands-on exercises such as drawing and modelling to bring them “close to the work of an actual architect or historian”.

The course syllabus will have three parts:

Part I: Form and History

Module 1: The Architectural Imagination: An Introduction

Module 2: Reading Architecture: Column and Wall

Module 3: Hegel and Architectural History

Module 4: Aldo Rossi and Typology

Part II: The Technology Effect

Module 5: The Crystal Palace: Infrastructure and Detail

Module 6: The Dialectics of Glass and Steel

Module 7: Technology Tamed: Le Corbusier’s Machines for Living

Part III: Representation and Context

Module 8: Drawing Utopia: Visionary Architecture of the 18th Century

Module 9: The Pompidou Center in the City of Paris

Module 10: Presenting the Unrepresentable

More information available here