Architecture as Spectacle

Subject ABPL90369 (2015)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2015.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2015:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 27-Jul-2015 to 25-Oct-2015
Assessment Period End 20-Nov-2015
Last date to Self-Enrol 07-Aug-2015
Census Date 31-Aug-2015
Last date to Withdraw without fail 25-Sep-2015

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 4 hours per week.
Total Time Commitment:

170 Hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge:
Study Period Commencement:
Credit Points:
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Amanda Achmadi


Environments and Design Student Centre

Ground Floor, Baldwin Spencer (building 113)

Enquiries Phone: 13 MELB (13 6352)



Subject Overview:

This subject considers the production of architecture in the age of commodification. It considers the place of architecture in a world that is growingly preoccupied with the visual and the culture of consumerism. It reflects on how such a world conceives, experiences and consumes architectural design as spectacle, placing striking visuality and iconography above other design intentions. Colonial imagining of otherness, nation building, heritage conservation, tourism industry, popular culture and media, as well as the branding practice of the 21st century will be considered as the broader political and social contexts in which the conception of architecture as spectacle arises.

Through a variety of case studies — ranging from the architecture of national pavilions at the world exposition series, the signatory works of 21st century’s star architects and their shaping of the image of the global cities, the strategic use of architecture in promoting place identity, arts, and heritage, to the commercial architecture of shopping malls, entertainment centres, and international franchise brands — we will reflect on, not only the commodification of architecture, but also how architectural design operates as a medium of commodification of culture, heritage, memory, and otherness. The subject will also explore the extent to which the notion of architecture as spectacle has infiltrated the space of everyday life, the house and the perception of urban life in general. We will then ponder on the effects of the commodification of architecture in the way we experience and shape our built environments.

Learning Outcomes:

On the completion of the subject, students should be able to:

• interpret architecture as a form of cultural production in which design ideas are shaped by, and subsequently giving shape to, broader cultural conceptions such as identity, otherness, memory, authenticity and difference;

• analyse the effects of commodification and consumerism on the production and reception of architectural design in the 21st century;

• critique contemporary architecture while drawing from broader social theories and interdisciplinary criticism of the popular culture of the 21st century;

• develop a critical view on the commodification of 21st century built environment and apply it in design work.


Tutorial attendance (minimum attendance of 75% of classes) Weeks 1-12, Hurdle

Tutorial presentations (based on visual and written materials to the total equivalent of 1000 words), due weeks 4-7, 20%

Annotated bibliography and essay outline (1000 words) due week 8, 20%

Research essay (3000 words), due week 12, 60%

Prescribed Texts:

Subject reader

Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Critical reading skills, oral and visual presentation skills, research skills, essay writings, engagement with interdisciplinary works.

Related Course(s): Master of Architecture
Master of Architecture
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 200 point Master of Architecture
300 point Master of Architecture
Melbourne School of Design multidisciplinary elective subjects

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