Throughout history architecture has been shaped by the continual transformation of material technologies and application methods. Its course of development is inseparable from the shifting terrain of technology and the social effects that result. This intrinsic alignment with change—whether from a welcomed or critical perspective—reveals the extent to which architecture is inherently tied to material innovation.
Like technology, architecture has continually transformed over time—yet it has retained the consistent aim of elevating humanity, whether through the cultivation of the arts, advancement of the sciences, instillment of morality, or dissemination of culture. By studying the architecture of a given epoch, one can more readily discern particular technological and societal trajectories that illuminate future behaviors.
On one hand, new products and processes transform architecture by enabling alternative construction techniques and novel spatial possibilities. On the other hand, architecture’s utilization of established technologies in unexpected ways demonstrates its capacity to inspire new environmental solutions as well as empower social transformation. Both tendencies demonstrate the extent to which architecture expresses the shifting terrain of global techno-cultural objectives.
ARCH 3511: Material Transformations. Undergraduate lecture course (3 credits). University of Minnesota School of Architecture.