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Modern and Contemporary Architecture and Design


Admission requirements

Same as admission requirements for the BA Art History/BA Arts, Media and Society.


In this course AMS students will combine the lectures in Block IV of the course History of European Decorative Arts and Design and the course Western Visual Arts and Architecture – 2000 Part II.

In the course on decorative arts and design, students follow the last series of lectures which are dedicated to the emergence of modern design in the eighteenth century until the advent of contemporary design in the twentieth century. Although the geographical focus is Europe this survey course will also pay attention to the enduring and significant influence of non-Western cultures on artistic creation in Europe. The nature of the decorative arts, and their position within artistic production in general, is explored through the study of objects, materials and techniques, as well as the roles of designers, craftsmen and patrons in their historical context. In addition, the practical function and social and cultural meaning of objects is investigated.

In the course on modern architecture, students will follow lectures on the key buildings that transformed patterns of living, working, traveling, and playing, from 1800 to the present. Students will learn about the protagonists who posed questions and debated theories in search of new ways of building. This will not be a course about a sequence of “modern masters” or a heroic succession of styles. Instead, we will work through five themes that are essential for understanding the development of modern architecture: 1) Material innovations 2) The rise of mass media 3) International exhibitions 4) Manifestoes, and 5) Design competitions. These themes situate multiple architects and urban planners in relation to broader social, economic and cultural forces, but our attention will remain tightly focused on the buildings shaped by these contexts.

Course objectives

  • Students acquire general knowledge of the principal developments in the history of the decorative arts, architecture and design from the 18th to the 21st century.

  • Students acquire knowledge of basic techniques used in metalworking, textiles, woodworking and ceramics as well as of the basic techniques and materials in architecture.

  • Students acquire knowledge of the cycle of production and consumption in the decorative arts and of design and building practices in architecture.

  • Students acquire knowledge of the different styles in the decorative arts and architecture.

  • Students learn to understand the historical and cultural significance of works of the decorative arts and design as well as the historical and cultural significance of buildings.

  • Students are introduced to a number of important theoretical debates concerning the decorative arts and design and architecture and urban planning.

  • Students acquire experience in using visual and written sources for the study of the decorative arts and architecture.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Assessment method


  • Final exam: 100%. Takehome exam based on the readings and the content of lectures by Dr. Dencher and Dr. Lauritano (mix of open questions).


The end grade is determined by the final takehome exam (100%). To successfully complete the course, students must earn a passing grade (6,0) on the final exam.


If the end grade is insufficient, it is possible to take a resit examination. This resit examination takes place at one exam moment and covers all the material of the course. The faculty rules relating to participation in resit examinations can be found in article 4.1 of the faculty Course and Examinationregulations (OER).

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

The literature to be read for this course will be posted and made available through Brightspace.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.

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