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Modern Architecture

  1. Course Number

  2. Classes Start

  3. Classes End

    Jun 15, 2020


1. Italian Futurism: 1909-1918

1.1. Welcome to the course

1.2. Architecture after 1851

1.3. Introduction to Futurism

1.4. Futurist Paintings at the Guggenheim

1.5. Futurist Architecture

1.6. Summary and Assignment

2. Frank Lloyd Wright and the 20th Century

2.1. Interview with John Lobell

2.2. Overview

2.3. Brief Biography

2.4. Prairie Style Houses

2.5. Larkin Building and Unity Temple

2.6. Wright in the 1920s

2.7. Wright in the 1930s

2.8. Wright in the 1950s

2.9. Wright's Patterns

2.10. Wright and the 20th Century

2.11. Organic Architecture

2.12. Ivan Shumkov and John Lobell Conversation

3. Russian Constructivism: 1910-1931

3.1. From Tradition to Soviet Revolution

3.2. Vladimir Tatlin and the Constructivist Space

3.3. Melnikov and his Soviet Pavilion in Paris

3.4. El Lissitsky, Vesnin and the New School

3.5. Ginsburg and the New Collective Housing

3.6. Leonidov and his Visionary Architecture

3.7. The End of Russian Avantguard

4. De Stijl or Dutch Neoplasticism: 1917-1930

4.1. Introduction to De Stijl Painting

4.2. The Origins of De Stijl Architecture

4.3. De Stijl Theories and Design

4.4. Schroder House by Geritt Rietveld

4.5. Café Aubette by Theo van Doesburg

4.6. Late De Stijl Architecture

4.7. Theo Van Doesburg’s Studio in Paris

5. Bauhaus, the Weimar Republic and the New Objectivity: Germany and Holland, 1918-1933

5.1. Introduction and Origins of the Bauhaus

5.2. Itten, Schlemmer and the Foundations

5.3. Gropius and the Design Methodology

5.4. 1923 Bauhaus Exhibit in Weimar

5.5. Moholy-Nagy’s New Methodology

5.6. Bauhaus New Home in Dessau

5.7. Albers’ Art and Breuer’s Furniture

5.8. Schlemmer and Gropius’ Total Theater

5.9. Meyer’s Change in Direction

5.10. Mies and After the Bauhaus

Extra: Documentary

6. Mies van der Rohe and the New Monumentality: Germany, 1920-1936

6.1. Mies van der Rohe and his Early Architecture

6.2. The Invention of a New Language in Houses

6.3. Weisenhoff Siedlung and other Housing

6.4. Barcelona Pavilion of Germany

6.5. New Houses and Projects in Europe

7. Le Corbusier and Purist Culture: France 1918-1937

7.1. Charles Eduard Jeanneret Gris

7.2. Books, Travels and Early Works

7.3. Journey to the East

7.4. 5 Modern Houses

7.5. Purism and Vers une Architecture

7.6. Esprit Nouveaux Pavilion

7.7. Jeanneret-La Roche and La Garches

7.8. Villa Savoye

7.9. 3 Housing Projects

7.10. Societe des Nations, CIAM and Palace of the Soviets

7.11. La Ville Radieuse and Pavillon des Temps Nouveaux

8. Alvar Aalto and Finnish National Romanticism: 1923-1954

OOAc-MA 8.1. Introduction to the Nordic Classicism Tradition

8.2. The Early Works of Alvar Aalto

8.3. Paimio Sanatorium as Integration with Nature

8.4. Viipuri Library in Vyborg (Russia)

8.5. Aalto’s House and Furniture Design

8.6. Finish Pavilion at the World Exposition in Paris

8.7. Villa Mairea in Noormarkku (Finland)

8.8. War Time Projects and MIT Baker House Dormitory

9. Italian Rationalism and the New Rome: 1922-1942

9.1. Italy from Novecento to Rationalim

9.2. Traces of Futurism into Rationalism

9.3. Rome University by Piacentini in Lictoral Style

9.4. Florence Train Station by Gruppo Toscano

9.5. Casa del Fascio in Como by Terragni

9.6. Kindergarten and Housing by Gruppo 7

9.7. Danteum in Rome by Terragni

9.8. Late Rationalist Projects and WW2

10. Conclusions and Final Assignment

Course Summary and Conclusions

Final Assignment Guidelines

About This Course

This online course traces the history of modern architecture from the point of view of its transformation under the influence of two major forces: the process of modernization and the development of ideology. The first of these derives from the material changes brought about by technology and industrialization; the second stems from the received idea of progress and from the utopian legacy of the Enlightenment. The period covered runs from the early 20th century to the Second World War. The European Avant Garde of the first half of the 20th century is given a particular emphasis as a leading force in the development of emblematic projects and new architectural ideas.


1: Italian Futurism and the First World War, 1900-1918

2: Russian Constructivism: 1910-1931

3: De Stijl or Dutch Neoplasticism: 1917-1930

4: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Myth of the Prairie: America 1889-1910

5: Bauhaus, the Weimar Republic and the New Objectivity: Germany and Holland, 1918-1933

6: Le Corbusier and Purist Culture: France 1918-1937

7: Mies van der Rohe and the New Monumentality: Germany, 1920-1936

8: Alvar Aalto and Finnish National Romanticism: 1923-1954

9: Italian Rationalism and the New Rome: 1922-1942


The study of architectural history and theory is important for understanding the built environment we live in and how it is designed. The knowledge of architectural history complements the projects and research of the design practice by analyzing historical precedents for design, investigating their meaning, and evaluating them as formal or programmatic models.

Throughout history, architecture has vividly reflected the cultures in which it evolved and the social, economic, and geophysical conditions that shaped it. Even today, many issues with which architects are currently concerned can be considered outgrowths of previous historical developments. Thus, studying the architecture of the past gives the course participants a focused historical lens through which to understand contemporary architecture and cities.


You are expected to spend 2-3 hours per week with your computer and a few more reading and exploring your city.


The course will feature video lectures, quizzes, readings, discussion board, peer-to-peer review, and virtual meetings. The main textbook for the course will be:

Kenneth Frampton, Modern Architecture: A Critical History, London: Thames and Hudson, 2007.

Alan Colquhoun. Modern Architecture. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

William J.R. Curtis. Modern Architecture since 1900, London: Phaidon Press, 1996.

Each course section will include additional reading from primary and secondary sources.


Students will conduce research and critical analysis of architecture. They will analyze and comment on the projects presented in each chapter of the course. Each course section will be followed by a short quiz, verifying the understanding of the course materials. As part 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.

A short final paper will evaluate the knowledge acquired in the course. It will consist of a 2-3 page essay on a series of topics will be distributed in the course of the semester. Students may choose an alternative topic, but they must discuss this topic and have it approved by course professor. In preparation for this essay, the student should use primary and secondary texts. All students writing a paper should submit a preliminary description of the topic, whether on the list or not, and complete bibliography in advance.


The course certificate by Build Academy could be purchased separately by people who complete the course. The three certificates available for the course are: basic, CEU-CPD, and AIA-CES for licensed US architects. You can include the certificate in your CV and LinkedIn profile. We can also provide you with reference letters for job or school applications and promotions.


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 were 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 fundamentals of the profession through the studies of modern architecture 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.


Course Staff Image #1

Prof. Ivan R. Shumkov PhD

Dr. Ivan Shumkov is a New York based architect, professor, curator, leader in online design education, and the founder of Open Online Academy. He has taught architecture, design, history and theory at Harvard University GSD, Pratt Institute School of Architecture, Parsons the new School for Design, International University of Catalonia, and ETSA Barcelona. He is a member of the Board of Directors of Harvard Alumni Association and President of Harvard Architectural and Urban Society Alumni. He graduated with masters degrees from ETSA Barcelona, University of Florence, and Harvard University GSD, as a Fulbright scholar. He completed his PhD in Architecture at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia and Columbia University GSAPP, as fellow of the Fondation Le Corbusier. Dr. Shumkov is a licensed architect in Spain and Italy and principal of ISA - Ivan Shumkov Architects, a company working in the fields of architecture, urbanism, landscape and design with offices in New York and Barcelona. He has worked, lectured and exhibited his projects and research in Europe, Brazil, Colombia, China, and the USA.

Course Staff Image #2

Prof. Emanuela Giudice PhD

Emanuela Giudice is a Turin based educator. She graduated in architecture and she holds a PhD at the Polytechnic of Turin with the thesis Lectures. Tools, methods and compositive applications in architecture between Whites and Grays. She focuses her research on the radical and post modern languages and their relationship with architecture and design. She collaborated with the Polytechnic of Turin and she has been lecturer at SIJU (Saint John International University) in architecture theory and criticism courses. She developed cultural and education projects related to architectural topics and she has been a broadcaster for the radio program “Les Bijoux Indiscrets”. Among her publications Paradossi dell’architettura. Intorno all’Eupalinos di Paul Valéry (Celid, Torino, 2011), “Gufram. Le matricole di massa in una fabbrica di design”, in M. Gausa (ed.), Rebel Matters. Radical Patterns, forthcoming. She involved both in academic research and in teaching at universities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to buy a textbook?

No, free online reading will be available, though you can purchase a printed version for the suggeted books.