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Semester 1

Thinking With Fire (Level 10) (ARCH10047)


Architecture and Landscape Architecture





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As this is a 4th year Architecture course, visiting students' eligibility (including any required Architecture academic background) must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. **Please note that Architecture courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any Architecture course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the Architecture department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

In current discourse, Fire has become a powerful metaphor for understanding climate change. Activists assert that 'Our House is on Fire', while historians suggest we think of our current geological epoch as a 'Pyrocene'. Fire has long been recognised as both a constructive and destructive agent, key to the emergence of human civilisation but also a risk to it. Nonetheless, the importance of this element for both urban safety and planetary health have perhaps never been greater. This course studies the way fire has shaped our built and natural environments, but also the way this element offers explanatory metaphors for environmental change. It invites students from architecture, landscape architecture, engineering, and related disciplines to reflect on the way fire has, and might, shape thinking in their own field.

Course Description

This course studies the ways that our built and natural environments have been shaped by fire. It does so through lectures and seminars that study texts prompted by fires in natural or designed environments; by new technologies of construction and environmental conditioning, or by natural and anthropogenic fires occurring in urban and landscape contexts. The selected texts are drawn from a range of disciplines; the history and theory of architecture, landscape architecture and engineering, but also related fields including art history, cultural studies, economics, earth science, engineering, sociology, literature, and philosophy. By studying these texts, the course will reflect on fire as a physical tool for modifying environments, but also as a conceptual tool for understanding environmental change. Reading between these texts, the course will track tensions between our physical and conceptual mastery of fire, and so between the environmental sciences and humanities. Through their own contributions to seminars, and through essays exploring selected research topics, students will be challenged to explore how fire and fire metaphors might help us to imagine a more sustainable future for our cities and wildlands.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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