Architecture or Revolution

Ref: C2423418

Beginning with the famous statement by the French modernist architect Le Corbusier – ‘The balance of society comes down to a question of building… architecture or revolution’ – the course introduces students to a range of key works, texts, figures and historical moments, from the 18th century to the present day, including: Pierre L’Enfant’s plans for the new federal capital of Washington, Baron Haussmann’s Boulevards and the Paris Commune, modernist experiments in Weimar-era Frankfurt, examples closer to home from British council housing, as well as parallel developments in Ghana during the era of decolonisation. As well as a broad knowledge of key moments in the history of modern architecture, students will develop skills in critically analysing images, plans, maps and other visual media. The course will also include an introduction to archival research techniques and the close reading of carefully selected short texts.

Course aim

The course invites students to look afresh at the built environment, suggesting how architecture and the city have been shaped by the clash of rulers and ruled, and introducing students to key moments in the history of modern architecture.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers
  • Intermediate to advanced level spoken English is required. Short extracts from selected historical texts will be discussed but students who are less confident with written English are still encouraged to join. Every effort will be made to tackle problems of language and ideas within the class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Demonstrate a broad knowledge of key moments in the history of modern architecture
  • Relate this learning to my own experience of the city.
  • Feel more confident critically analysing and discussing historical texts.
  • Feel familiar with basic archival research techniques.
  • Critically analyse images, plans, maps etc

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

No prior experience of architectural or urban history is necessary. Students are encouraged to bring insights and questions from their everyday experiences of the city. The course will stand students in a good position to pursue their own further studies about architecture and urban history.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

Architecture or Revolution


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact

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