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Architectural education of the Academie Royale d'Architecture and the Ecole Speciale d'Architecture: The Bauhaus Solution to Paradoxical Education

Part 1 Dissertation 1998
Alexander Griffin
Liverpool John Moores University Liverpool UK
The research rotated around the ‘forces that have shaped the way architectural teachers think and how these forces influence methods of teaching’.

Architecture was discussed at Plato's Academy, but there is no suggestion of formal courses taking place there. No doubt the Greeks, like centuries of successors, learned architecture on the job. Coulton suggests that they would not have needed drawings. Once the orders had been established they would have known exactly what to do. Each temple was in a sense, a refinement of the last; if it seemed a little squat then make the columns taller; if it seemed a little top heavy then lighten the architrave and frieze.
We know from surviving drawings, such as the Form Urbis that the Romans used rulers, compasses and set-squares. The way architecture developed was noted by Vitruvius who identified that an architect's education in Greece and Rome had two aspects: theoretical, which for Vitruvius included such things as proportion and practical knowledge; and training, 'on the job' in the actual technicalities of building. And there have been these two aspects ever since, although inevitably, the subjects called 'theory' have changed over the years and been greatly expanded.

Once we understand the beliefs that teachers and theorists hold as truth, we can begin to see why these individuals teach in the way that they do. These beliefs have been examined within the broader context of the history of Western philosophies. Architectural teachers and theorists do not invent their theories in a vacuum, but rather inherit a number of attitudes, methods, and even specific philosophies from their culture all of which shape their ideas about education. Historically, theories of art have influenced these teaching methods the most, such as was seen by the Academie Royale d’Architecture and the Ecole Speciale d’Architecture during the eighteenth century. Often educational programmes also took ideas from contemporary theories of knowledge, or epistemology, with which they were contemporary. Some theories of education are nothing more than theories of knowledge in another guise, yet others consciously react against their society's dominant conception of knowledge.

Finally, all of the theories of art, knowledge and architectural education took shape under the influence of a prevailing set of cosmological beliefs. These most basic views in a culture about the nature of the world, the nature of humans and their abilities, and the relationships between the two have been an underlying consideration throughout.

Mosser, Manique, & Rabreau, Daniel, The Royal Academy and The Education of Architecture in the Eighteenth Century, Article in periodical, Archives de Architecture Moderne, no. 25, 1983
Borden, Iain, & Dunster, David, Architecture and the Sites of History: Interpretations of Buildings and Cities, Butterworths Architecture , Oxford, 1995
Chafee, Richard, The Teaching of Architecture at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Article in book edited by Arthur Drexler, The Architecture of the Beaux-Arts;: The Museum of Modern Art, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1997
Tschumi, Bernard, Architecture and Disjunction, The MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1994

Alexander Griffin

Supplemented by archival information which has been translated from its original
language, the dissertation seeks to trace fundamental teaching approaches rooted between the camps of theory and practice.

The work provides a detailed historical examination of the methods of teaching developed at the Academie Royale D'Architecture and the Ecole Speciale D'Architecture giving us an overview of our own current teaching applications.

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