Term: Winter 2024
Section: 1
Class Number: 21908
Credits: 3
Required: No
Elective: Yes
Course Brief

/ ARCH 603

Your Life in Ruins: Architecture in the Trans-Apocalypse

Climate apocalypse is virtually always regarded as world-ending; the world has therefore become that which must be saved from apocalypse. Anxiety, fear, and dread of an impending, threatened, and/or forecasted end of the world have thus sponsored any number of activities to defer, reverse, or deny environmental catastrophes, all based on the premise that these catastrophes can in some way be averted. Investigating the potentials of new technologies, new materials, and new forms of interdisciplinary research, much of current design thinking follows from this premise. And yet, however well-meaning, this thinking blocks comprehension of a number of crucial historical, political, and social facts: that the world is already irreversibly changing by synergistically-related environmental catastrophes that have been termed the “trans-apocalypse”; that the world as a survivable condition is already in the process of ending for many of the human and more-than-human beings that inhabit it; that prudent risk management necessitates the consideration of worst-case scenarios; and that the end of the world has already been a lived historical experience for humans whose lives have been expendable in colonialism, slavery, genocide, racial capitalism, and extractive plundering. This seminar will therefore undertake a thought-experiment based upon the following questions: What if design would occupy itself not with reversing, surviving, or withstanding environmental catastrophes, but rather with living equitably, ethically, and justly within those catastrophes? What if imagining that environmental catastrophes can be averted makes us not more but rather less able to deal with those catastrophes? And what if the opposite of hope in reversing climate apocalypse is not hopelessness but acceptance of the apocalypse that virtually all inhabitants of the planet are contending with in one form or another? We will conduct this thought-experiment by exploring a number of ways to integrate climate apocalypse into political imagination, cultural invention, and design thinking.

This course counts as an architecture history elective for M.Arch 3G students.


Weds 4:00-7:00pm 2210 A&AB

Meets with HISTART 497-003


Andrew Herscher