Back to top

Past Undergraduate Course Descriptions

Fall/Winter 2019-20

ARC 400-Level Advanced Topics

The Advanced Topics courses listed below are distinct credit offerings, and eligible students can enrol in more than one of the following courses, despite repeating course codes. For example, students can enrol in ARC451H1F LEC0101 and ARC451H1S LEC0102, as their course content will differ depending on the instructor.

Periodic updates to course descriptions and instructors will occur throughout the Summer 2019 session. (last updated: November 18, 2019)

  • ARC451H1F LEC0101

No Description available yet.

  • ARC451H1F LEC0102: Architecture and the Sea

We live on a watery world. Yet too often we ignore the connection between our buildings and the sea that is all around us. This course will look at the history of port cities, maritime infrastructure, ships, shoreline interactions, and island habitations. As sea levels rise, we will study examples of the terracqueous constructions from the ancient world to the present day and how architects are by necessity thinking more about an increasingly liquid landscape. Students will develop projects through the lens of history and environmental criticism.

  • ARC465H1F LEC0101: Guided Distractions 2.0 - Abstraction & Experimentation in Architecture

This course aims to use experimental processes in various disciplines such as poetry, film, drawing and sculpture to address a currently charged socio-political issue within the city. These techniques will be explored through a series of parameter-based experiments with an emphasis on abstraction (and its varying levels), chance (and indeterminacy), and failure. Alternate materials and techniques will be explored in a workshop setting to look beyond the typical architectural toolbox. We will closely study and hear from a multidisciplinary team of current and past experimenters such as John Cage, Buckminster Fuller, Virgil Abloh, Harryette Mullen, Lebbeus Woods, Theaster Gates amongst other guest lecturers. The course will conclude with a group exhibition.

  • ARC465H1F1 LEC0101: Lazy Computing

If our current design software has enabled a transformative re-allocation of an architect’s labor, it has also resulted in a posture of disciplinary nonchalance. In this course, we will examine our commands, constraints and OS interactions, and their implications in contemporary digital practice.

Students will be asked to develop their digital skill sets through the production of architectural animations, and through unconventional usages of everyday computational platforms. Through a series of software exercises, students will explore the feedback between architectural form and its representation, and the shrinking gap between simulative abstraction and the physical realm.

  • ARC466H1F LEC0101: Extraction Landscapes

Landscape plays a significant role in the Canadian cultural imaginary, yet this landscape is formed through systems of extraction - lumber, oil, and mining. This course examines the diverse landscapes of Canadian resource extraction: its global reach as the center of mining conglomerates, its timber resources, and its oil and natural gas reserves. Canada is the dominant financial market for mining – the Toronto Stock Exchange being the principle of listing of global mining concerns – whose sites of extraction extend to South Asia, Africa, and South America. Canada also holds one of the world’s largest oil reserves, much of it in the form of tar sands whose extraction comes at a significant environmental cost. Taken together these sites plot a landscape of global material and energy and systems.

We will consider these “extraction landscapes” to comprise a socio-technical arrangement forming connections between materials (crude oil, ores, trees, minerals), modes of expertise, financial operations, juridical systems, and territorial relations. We will thus study the actual points of extraction as well as the infrastructures of refining and distribution. Our inquiry will be historical as well as contemporary; we will consider Canada’s transition from a colonial outpost in the eighteenth-century Atlantic System that saw lumber exchanged for finished goods, to its current status as a center of mining and extraction economies. Our aim will be to develop tools of visual, formal, and landscape analysis through which we will examine these global assemblages.

  • ARC480H1F LEC0101

No description available yet.

  • ARC480H1F1 LEC0101 (formerly ARC481H1F LEC0101): Thermal Resilience in Building Design

Resilient design is a cost-effective form of climate change adaptation that architects must seriously adopt in order to protect occupants and building assets. This seminar will focus on the time-based performance metrics and robust passive measures which can be used to inform the early stages of design to enhance comfort and thermal resilience in buildings. In the first half of the course, students are expected to conduct research and present their findings on selected topics such as; passive heating and cooling, climate and meteorological influences, passive survivability, climate adaptive building shells, responsive structures and living systems. In the second half, the students will practice using computer simulation models to design a thermally resilient building.

  • ARC451H1S LEC0101: Architecture, Media, and World System

This course explores architecture as a medium of technological, social, and knowledge transmission within the context of the pre-history of globalization. The projection of a world system precedes more familiar contemporary terms such as ‘the global,’ globalization, or globalism. In the nineteenth century the idea of a world system was pursued through technological advances which easily aligned with imperialist aspirations. The course investigates the role of architecture in the production of a global imaginary where architecture as an infrastructural medium shifts our perspective beyond the formal built realm to the varied means or vehicles of transmission (such as paper or electronic, or institutional types and relay stations (educational facilities, libraries, radio, railway, and transmission towers, for example). While the theoretical perspective focuses on mid-twentieth century transatlantic exchanges in media and communications theories, we will also engage select materials from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Students will have an opportunity to pursue a project to be developed through term assignments and workshops that aim to advance research and recording skills. Course delivery will combine lectures with a seminar discussion format and will include at least one fieldtrip to the University of Toronto's archives and the Fisher Library..

  • ARC451H1S1 LEC0102: “The Only Two Arts of Our Time": Film and Architecture 1877-Present

In the latter half of the 19th century new building technologies were separating a concept called “space” from its trappings in tectonics. At the same time, the medium of photography was combined with the successive instants of the Gatling gun, liberating it from stasis and creating a new kind of pictorial space called “cinema”. The deep kinship of these two arts--Le Corbusier called them “the only two arts of our time”-- is the topic of this lecture course. We will look at what these two art forms have meant to each other for the past hundred years and how each has managed to challenge, usurp or exploit the other. Students will be expected to read theoretical texts, watch difficult and hard to see films every week, and prepare remarks on source materials for each class. The course will consider work by: Marie Menken, Michael Snow, Takeshi Murata, Andrei Tarkovsky, Sergei Eisenstein, Carl Th. Dreyer, Dziga Vertov, Maya Deren, Oskar Fischinger, Howard Hawks, Michelangelo Antonioni, Steven Holl, Diller Scofidio Renfro, Bernard Tschumi, Hans Poelzig, Le Corbusier, and Edweard Muybridge among others.

  • ARC452H1S LEC0101: Women and the Making of Architecture

This course concentrates on case studies of the built work of women in landscape architecture and architecture from the nineteenth century to the present. Simultaneously, it traces the growth of women’s rights through a timeline, beginning with the Enlightenment through waves of feminist theory to the present. Working female architects as guest lecturers will present gender issues of inclusion through their own work history. The main structure of the class is lecture based, however students will operate in a studio manner when exploring case studies and partner into groups for a final presentation through drawings and diagrams.

  • ARC452H1S1 LEC0101: Gardens of the Atlantic: Landscape and Enlightenment in the Atlantic World

This seminar considers the diverse landscapes of the Atlantic World at the end of the eighteenth century. This includes productive as well as formal landscapes and gardens across Europe, the Americas, West Africa, and the Caribbean. We examine the plantation landscapes of the West Indies and the Southern United states; French and English gardens of a rising colonial bourgeoisie; the slave factories of western Africa; “repatriation” projects to relocate freed slaves in Africa; and the botanical gardens that served as testing grounds for agricultural development. These landscapes existed as privileged sites within the networks of agricultural, capital, and human exchange that, taken together, constitute the modern phenomenon of the Atlantic System - networks that also served as conduits for the transnational circulation of revolutionary ideas, stemming equally from the European Enlightenment discourse and the lived experiences of enslaved peoples. We thus consider the landscapes of marronage and slave insurrection as efforts towards a radical reconfiguration of the Atlantic System.

  • ARC453H1S LEC0101: Critical Globalisms

The world is bigger than our thoughts. If we accept this conceit, then the only way we can approach the world’s complexity is by abstracting it, substituting its irreducible alterity with manageable concepts. The very idea of globalization is one such abstraction, a way of imagining the world in a way that makes it convenient for some to navigate it. As Gayatry Spivak as argued, “"The globe is on our computers. It is the logo of the World Bank. No one lives there.” Throughout history, the world has been imagined through different abstractions. Colonialism, modernity, development, progress, nationalism, neoliberalism, all are different ways of imagining the world. Each of these imaginations have also produced violent ways of managing it, from slavery, to sweatshops to colonies and client-states. This course will introduce students to these different historical imaginations of the world and will explore their political and ideological implications. We will look at a wide variety of sources to enter these imagined worlds, from manifestoes, to historical accounts, to interviews, to novels, and short stories, constantly confronting how we too operate with, and within, their shadows. 

  • ARC453H1S1 LEC5101: Exile and the Modern City

The world is urbanizing at an unprecedented pace and in unexpected ways. By 2030, five billion people will be living in urban areas that increasingly defy the concept of ‘city’ as it is currently defined. This course examines the spectrum of reactions over the last five decades to the changing patterns in urbanization due to various phenomena such as global real estate market shifts, crises in war, decolonization, and economic instability. The course will begin by considering historical precedents of building for and learning from informal settlements in Europe, North America, Latin America, and Africa from 1930 until 1980. We will proceed by defining concepts of exile, mapping paths of migration, and establishing tentative and broad typologies of urban informality. The weekly themes consider case studies from across the globe. They include the city within a city, camps and arrival cities, First Nations Communities, borderlands, and informal settlements (both housing and the grey economy). Some of the cities and areas studied in this course include Algiers, Caracas, Mumbai, Taipei, Detroit, Calais, Tijuana, northern Canadian communities, Johannesburg, and Manila among others.

  • ARC465H1S LEC0101: Reality and its Representation

It is obvious that if one is to consider the problem of “red pill / blue pill” in architectural representation, the architect has decided to swallow the “blue pill”. Nowadays, most of the architectural imagery is soaked in a blossoming happiness with nauseating effects and always overly controlled and precise to the point of acquiring non-humanistic tones. And despite the high level of legibility, what you see is not what you get. The result is hard on the edge but slimy on the inside. It can be grasped, but when confronted or squeezed it slips away.

This advanced seminar in architecture will start from the premise that representation may produce rather than repeat reality. Via thorough analysis of past and present modes of architectural representation, we will engage in speculations about a future reality shaped by responsibility, acceptance, and inclusion.

While the main structure of the class is lecture based, we will often operate in a design studio mode through open and collective critiques. The students will be asked to constantly draw, model, and write. A minimum knowledge in computer graphics and model construction is required. Finally, the objective of this seminar is to enable the students to think very clearly about architectural representation in particular, and the world in general, while building up advanced skills in image making.

  • ARC465H1S LEC0102: Between the Lines: Borders, Territory and Space

This course focuses on urbanism and architecture’s relationship with borders as political, ecological, and topological conditions. As key instruments in defining the logistics of space and territory, borders operate at multiple scales from the local to the global, and from the constructed to the imaginary. Students will explore how borders reinforce inclusion and exclusion in urbanism, and how designers can engage with, and transform, border conditions as they navigate on the edge, margins and thresholds in-between.

  • ARC467H1S LEC0101: Sustain & Support - Urbanism In the Military Orbit

A close interrogation of the U.S. military's architectural and infrastructural arsenal reveals that the military-industrial complex is alive and well and increasingly intertwined with the technological strata of daily civilian life. This seminar examines clandestine, accidental, and under-acknowledged urbanisms sponsored by the Department of Defense and establishes a journalistic research methodology to analyze the spatial and logistical operations of statecraft. Through the gradual development of a comprehensive report, students will produce drawings and texts to articulate, visualize, and critique a world which is so often made opaque by design. Working in pairs, students will develop a body of research around a single episode chosen from the recent history of the military and adopt an avatar to focus their inquiry for the duration of the semester.

  • ARC480H1S LEC5101: Drawing out Urban Interfaces

Interfaces are thresholds that bind people together with a commonwealth of machines. They are also channels that augment the human sensorium –opening new visits. Additionally, they are zones of activity that bound a user’s experience. As such, users act through them in shaping the world, and in turn are also acted on by them. With the ascendance of network-culture, the interface –a user’s site of contact with networks– joins older forms of media (e.g. streets, pipes, powerlines, etc.) as an infrastructure through which society organizes itself. However, surely the role of private enterprise in refining the present-moments most commonly used interfaces cannot be overlooked here.

This course investigates the urbanism of mediation. It explores critical frameworks and skillsets relevant for students engaging questions about design practice, technology and the city. For the first half of the semester students will develop a typology of urban interfaces in which they will represent relationships between users, machines and the spaces in which both transit. Through this activity students will develop an analytic relationship with interfaces excavated from everyday life, media art, architecture and speculative design. Towards bridging theory and practice, during the second half of the semester, students will develop collaborative proposals and prototypes that engage issues pertaining to the use of open data, physical computing, data visualization and digital fabrication.


Summer 2019

Please note that ARC399H1 is not available for ACORN enrolment, and can only be requested through the application process detailed below. The following are descriptions for the ARC399H1 design/build sections offered in Summer 2019, indicating the course instructors, dates, and design prompts.

ARC399H1F LEC0101 - Mobile Activator Instructor: Reza Nik (June 3rd - 14th)

How do you design and build a simple mobile activator that can be used by various existing social movements in Toronto as a communicative tool while being economical, light, and architecturally impactful? Students will work closely with the community in Parkdale and the Parkdale Land Trust, an advocacy group that has been working for a more just approach to gentrification through novel forms of urban intervention.

ARC399H1F LEC0102 - Daniels x Lululemon. Instructor: Jay Pooley (June 17th - 28th)

Working together as a small and concentrated team, students will spend two weeks designing and building a pavilion in partnership with Lululemon Toronto. The structure will explore challenges of site, program, scale and fabrication across a spectrum of techniques. The goal of the course is to enable students to form a sense of self-reliance towards making, and to narrow the gap between designing and building.

ARC399H1S LEC0101 - Urban Dock. Instructor: Clinton Langevin & Max Yuristy (July 8th - 19th)

The Urban Dock will be a working prototype for human occupation of the existing breakwater structure in Toronto’s west end. This scalable proof of concept project will identify and test the necessary processes, partners, community allies and expertise to successfully deploy segments of a linear public space along the western Toronto waterfront and beyond. In this studio, students will be given the opportunity to design, build, and launch a prototypical segment of the Urban Dock at the west end beaches or as an installation at The Bentway.

ARC399H1S LEC0102 - Wellington, PEC. Instructors: Studio North (July 15th - 28th)

In this course, we will be working closely with the community of Wellington, Prince Edward County to create a civic project that will be incorporated in to the streetscape of the town. Using simple, locally available materials that are easy to source and assemble, this could include materials such as SPF lumber, concrete, steel, and plywood. Camping site options will be provided; there are also plenty of rental accommodations, but students will be responsible to find accommodations that are comfortable for them.

In a brief paragraph (maximum 250 words), please indicate the studio you are interested in and describe how you will gain a better understanding of the role of the architect through this collaborative design-build studio. Applications should be emailed to with the subject “ARC399H1: LASTNAME, STUDENT NUMBER” as early as possible and no later than Friday April 5th.

Note: This course can be considered an exclusion for ARC314H1 upon student request.