UWA Handbook 2017

Unit details

ARCT5531 Suburban Cultures

Credit 6 points
  Offering
(see Timetable)
AvailabilityLocationMode
Not available in 2017UWA (Perth)Face to face
Content As the world becomes increasingly urbanised and the hinterland more remote from urban centres, the threat to wilderness is intensifying. Sprawling suburban areas are providing challenges for planners, developers, ecologists and architects as well as for the communities who reside there. Solutions for the curtailment of metropolitan spread point frequently to the densifying of urban centres and infilling of inner suburban zones. How might architects respond to the various issues and imperatives associated with the often conflicting desires for and impacts of suburban living? What are the social, cultural, economic, spatial and material qualities of suburban landscapes that appeal to and attract large sections of the population? Are they sustainable? Should they be preserved? What future development trajectories or scenarios might we imagine and implement?

As a way of addressing these complex questions confronting all developed and developing countries, this unit explores the evolution over the last two centuries of suburban cultures and landscapes around the globe. It studies the factors that gave rise to suburban ideals, patterns, practices and lifestyles as they have either changed or persisted over time. Australia's suburban culture and development provide a main focus. Themes of utopianism and pastoralism, speculation and mass production, sustainability and resilience, among others, are studied as a means of understanding the characteristics, opportunities and limitations of the liminal in-between realm of the suburb. Theorists, critics, architects and artists from Australia and overseas provide the intellectual armature for enquiry and evaluation.
Outcomes Students are able to (1) demonstrate an understanding of the historical, theoretical and social contexts underlying and informing the evolution of suburban living, space and design around the world; (2) analyse and describe the particular characteristics and qualities of suburban space and form within contemporary cities in Australia and across the globe; (3) identify and articulate the major challenges confronting future suburban development and design; and (4) demonstrate attitudes and skills with which to make informed and appropriate interventions within existing and future suburban realms.
Assessment Typically this unit is assessed in the following ways: (1) a group project comprising a seminar presentation (20 to 30 minutes), short paper (1000 words) and accompanying A1 poster designed to extend and amplify the issues arising in the unit and requiring the critical analysis of an historical suburban project; and (2) a major illustrated essay (4000 words) exploring an aspect of suburban culture, selected from a list of topics or devised by the student in consultation with the coordinator. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit.
Unit Coordinator(s) Dr Kate Hislop
Contact hours seminars: 3 hours per week for up to 12 weeks

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