The other's history in built environment education: a case study: history of architecture

Zeynep Aygen

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The majority of English textbooks and reference books used in built environment education are limited to Western architecture and its origins. There is a continuing tendency by publishers to introduce new textbooks oriented to a 'global history of architecture'; however this new genre is still very limited. Consequently History of Architecture and Contemporary Architecture curricula in most English-speaking countries focus on Western and Central Europe and the USA. The exclusion of 'other' architectures is largely due to the lack of the teaching material in English; however in some cases it may also have deeper roots within certain cultural perceptions. Beyond History of Architecture, also topics such as Urban Planning, Landscape Architecture and Building Conservation represent the same limitations in spite of a couple exceptions. For example most African national parks in recent years have introduced a sustainable approach to landscape design with their man-made structures from natural materials; however these achievements are usually discussed only in tourism related essays. In the realm of Historic Building Conservation the author has been commissioned recently to write a book about international heritage preservation (Aygen, in press); the book will cover an important gap as there are very few academic publications on this subject area. In most publications and university curricula there is a notable bi-polar approach to certain cultures. If they are mentioned at all, they are labelled as the 'other', thereby excluding any synchronic time comparison. Is there any 'Christian Architecture' as a discourse opposed to 'Islamic Architecture'? Why does the 'Beginnings of Architecture' generally exclude sites in Asia, Africa and South America? These are some rhetorical questions which need to be answered. The (Globalising Art, Architecture and Design History) GLAADH project, supported by HEFCE, has shown that there is a will to change the existing attitude to 'other' architectures, but lack of resource is a limiting factor. This means that there is an urgent need to develop new methodologies for publications in order to enrich the existing built environment curricula in universities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-122
Number of pages25
JournalJournal for Education in the Built Environment
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


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