CCHU9030

Image, Space and Society

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

The course examines the relationship between the representation of space — through drawings, models, photography, film, virtual environments — and the economic, cultural, technological and political forces that shape contemporary society. Each of us has a personal relationship to architecture and the city as well as a felt understanding of space through our daily confrontation with artifacts of the built environment. It is therefore critical to understand how the world in which we live is planned and conceived in order to effectively engage in the shaping of that world.

Drawings and models are the key tools that architects and planners use to consider, communicate and construct the spaces of our everyday lives. These spaces are projected on sheets of paper, modeled in three dimensions and sometimes visualized with digital modeling and animation tools. These forms of spatial representation such as drawings, models, films, and photography have the capacity to do much more than lay out the foundations for buildings or cities, for they are mechanisms of provocation, discourse, and critique. They make arguments, influence society and change the course of history. Students will consider the meanings behind various modes of representation and the impacts that those visions have had and they will be asked to reflect on the relationship of technology to the way we think, build and ultimately live.

Through weekly lectures, writing exercises, readings and tutorial discussions, students will develop a capacity to engage with different forms of spatial representation and to critically articulate a personal understanding of their relationship to architecture and the city.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Develop an understanding of the history of architectural representation and clearly describe the relationship of drawing and design to the built environment.
  2. Explain and demonstrate the ways in which architectural drawings, diagrams and models are used to describe space as well as convey ideas about culture and society.
  3. Discuss the relationship of visual representation in architecture and planning to aspects of culture, economics, politics, and ideology in the world.
  4. Understand and identify the ways in which technological shifts can impact the world we design and live in.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 11
Reading / Self-study 25
Assignment: Weekly assignments 40
Assessment: Essay writing 20
Assessment: In-class quizzes 2
Total: 122

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Weekly assignments 30
Tutorial participation 10
Short paper 20
Quizzes 20
In-class test 20

Required Reading

  • Abbas, A. (1997). Hong Kong: Culture and the politics of disappearance. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press. [pp. 1‐15, 63‐90]
  • Allen, S. (1999). Points + lines: Diagrams and projects for the city. New York: Princeton Architectural Press.
  • Chaszar, A. (2003). Blurring the lines − An exploration of current CAD/CAM techniques. Architectural Design (AD), 73(1), 111-117.
  • Cook, P. (2008). Drawing: The motive force of architecture. London: John Wiley and Sons. [Selected passages]
  • Eliasson, O. (2013). Models are real. In E. Abruzzo, E. Ellingsen & J.D. Solomon (Eds.), Models: 306090, Volume 11. New York: Princeton.
  • Ellingsen, E., & Levy, A. (2013). Cross catalytic architecture. In E. Abruzzo, E. Ellingsen & J.D. Solomon (Eds.), Models: 306090, Volume 11. New York: Princeton.
  • Frescari, M., Hale, J., & Starkey, B. (Eds.). (2007). From models to drawings: Imagination and representation in architecture. London: Routledge.
  • Kolarevic, B. (2005).  Architecture in the digital age: Design and manufacturing. Oxford: Taylor & Francis. [Introduction]
  • Koolhaas, R., Bouman, O., & Wigley, M. (Eds.). (2007, January 1). Volume 5: The architecture of power, Part I. Columbia University GSAPP/ Archis.
  • Le Corbusier. (2007). Vers une architecture. Los Angeles: Getty Publications. [Introduction]
  • Pallasmaa, J. (2011). The embodied image: Imagination and imagery in architecture. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Inc. [pp.14-24, 118-138]
  • Robbins, E. (1994). Why architects draw. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [pp. 5-63]

Recommended Reading

  • Banham, R. (1960). Theory and design in the first machine age. London: Architectural Press. [Chap. 2]
  • Hirst, P. (2005). Space and power: Politics, war and architecture. Cambridge: Polity Press. [Chap. 1]
  • McGrath, B. (2007). Cinemetrics: Architectural drawing today. London: John Wiley and Sons. [Selected passages]
  • Rossi, A. (1982). The architecture of the city (D. Ghirardo & J. Ockman, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Selected passages]

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Mr S. Devabhaktuni
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 2219 4432
Email: sonydev@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Mr S. Devabhaktuni
Department of Architecture, Faculty of Architecture
Tel: 2219 4432
Email: sonydev@hku.hk