The pursuit of ideal forms of communal habitation in the Western tradition will be discussed and illustrated, beginning with the New Jerusalem described in the Book of Revelation and running up to today’s retirement communities. Periodically, humankind has realized we have made a mess of things and has tried to start over. What lies behind the drive to “do better”? What ideas fall away? What forms endure? How have we shaped our built environment and, in turn, how has it shaped us? What is the relationship between built environment and human behavior; do beautiful cities make better people? What do the shape of our cities and towns tell us about the people who created and originally lived in them? Are there lessons to be learned? We will examine examples from ancient Greece and Rome, Renaissance Italy, Colonial America, Enlightenment Europe, 1930’s social experiments, post WW2 Nationalism, and late 20th Century economic expansionism.
Instructor Brett Donham is an architect and planner who founded an award winning Boson-based firm. Over the years he has traveled extensively throughout the United States and Europe and is therefore in a unique position to ask the questions he is raising in this course as well as to attempt to answer them. The majority of Brett's practice has been committed to designing buildings in the public realm, always bearing in mind the social and cultural impact they had on their communities. These public buildings included churches, police and fire stations, town halls, multi-family housing, and waterfront redevelopment. Brett’s first CSC course was The Social History of Church Design.
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