ARC1015: Introduction to Architecture SAPL 2020/21
Module Leader: Professor Katie Lloyd Thomas Semester Two



‘A very short book like this inevitably has to omit far more than it includes’
Adam Sharr, Modern Architecture: A Very Short Introduction (2018).

In his Introduction to Modern Architecture: A Very Short Introduction (2018), Adam
Sharr proposes that ‘All buildings – bicycle shed or cathedral, banal office building or
obsessively detailed museum… are valid objects of scholarly attention.’ (Sharr, 2018:
8). Indeed he begins each chapter with one such ordinary structure that rarely
features in histories of modern architecture; a bridge, a cowshed, a forgotten villa, a
car industry research building. But as he goes on to explain, there are better known
canonical buildings that ‘you need to know to talk knowledgably with others.’ That,
and the limitations of length of this book, means that most of the buildings, and the
four architect ‘superheroes’ (Sharr, 2018 :10) who feature in each chapter (Mies van
der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn and Buckminster Fuller) are drawn from Europe
and the US. There is a tricky tension, Sharr acknowledges, between communicating
the familiar elements of the story of modern architecture and taking a more diverse,
inclusive approach.

In your seminars you have been examining Sharr’s book closely, and also starting to
look at histories of modern architecture and close readings by other authors. In
semester one, the weekly handouts offered many other suggestions for your reading
about modern architecture, and in your history walks you explored local
architectures that rarely make it into historical overviews like Sharr’s. This essay
question invites you to propose one new building (or it could be a set of closely
related buildings) to add to Sharr’s book; to write the additional new text 500-800
words, and to justify the addition.
Many principles could inform your selection of a building to add to Sharr’s book, for

• Perhaps other historians include particular buildings or architects that Sharr
leaves out or says little about, and you consider it important they feature
here as well.
• Perhaps there is another ‘ordinary’ building or structure that you think would
contribute a useful story to the telling of modern architecture.
• Perhaps you have an example of a building or architect from another part of
the world that is important or innovative, but has not been included.
• Perhaps you think there is an essential building typology that played a key
role in the architecture of the 20th century that ought to be included.
• Perhaps your addition will address a concern Sharr raises himself that there
could be too many ‘buildings designed by white Western men’ in this book.

Your essay should comprise of two parts:

Part I) is a fully referenced justification (1200-1500 words, depending on the length
of your insertion) for your addition which draws on what other writers and historians
have written to explain your rationale for your selection, including their accounts of
their own approach to history. The justification should go beyond your personal
preferences and interests, to demonstrate the significance of your selection for
architectural history. It should include a review of what at least 4 authors have said
about the building or set of buildings you are including (considering also any
differences in their accounts). It should also make a careful case for the way you
have chosen to narrate the story, and give details of exactly where you are inserting
it into Sharr’s book, and why this is an important addition to the story of modern
architecture. This section can be illustrated.

Part II) is a fully referenced text to be inserted into Sharr’s book (500-800 words).
This should be narrated in an accessible easy to ready manner. It should go beyond a
report of the building, to tell a story that contributes to a wider understanding of
modern architecture. Unlike Sharr’s text, you need to use footnotes to reference the
sources of your information. As in Sharr’s book, you should select only one black
and white image to illustrate your insertion.

Your choice of buildings/s should be discussed and agreed with your seminar tutor,
and should be from the time frame covered by Sharr’s book, (ignoring Iron Bridge
and a few others!), starting with the Crystal Palace (1851) and finishing with the
Pompidou Centre (1978).
E. H.Carr, What Is History? (London: Palgrave MacMillan, 2002). Chapter 1, ‘The
Historian and his Facts’, pp.1-24. Available on Canvas.

Dell Upton, ‘Architectural History or Landscape History?’, in Journal of Architectural
Education, Vol. 44, No. 4. (Aug., 1991), pp. 195-199 . Available on Canvas.

Sibel Zandi-Sayek ‘The Unsung of the Canon: Does a Global Architectural History
Need New Landmarks?’ in Architecture Beyond Europe Journal No.6, (2014).


Cover Sheet
Please include a cover sheet with:
• Your name and student number
• Your seminar group and tutor’s name
• A title for the essay that clarifies its main focus.
• Word count for Part I (justification), and Part II (insertion). The word count
should include footnotes, but not bibliography.

Referencing and Bibliography
The essay should be accurately referenced using a consistent reference system,
which gives full details of publications referred to, and page numbers where
appropriate. We prefer a footnoting system (such as MHRA) typically used by the
humanities, but Harvard is OK too. In addition you should include at the end of the
essay, a bibliography of all your sources, both those you cite directly from and those
you read or consulted for the essay. The bibliography should be a stand-alone list,
separate from your referencing method.

Assessment Criteria
The essay should demonstrate students’ knowledge and understanding of areas
covered in lectures and weekly readings, and the development of research and
writing skills needed for their dissertation.

• Ability to identify and use appropriate sources and research materials.
• Quality of the analysis, reflection and interpretation of that material.
• Level of the communication of ideas in visual and written form.

Submit PDF or Word document to CANVAS by 12 noon Tuesday 27 April 2021.