Course syllabus


ARK700 History, theory and method 7 lp3-lp4 VT23 (3 hp)
Course offered by the department of Architecture and Civil Engineering
Master’s Programme Architecture and Planning Beyond Sustainability /MPDSD

Contact details

Examiner/teacher: Liane Thuvander,, 0762 275 857
Course coordinator/teacher: Shea Hagy,, 0709 847 067

Other teachers:

Larry Toups,

Anita Ollár, 

Lina Zachrisson,


Emilio Brandao,

Course purpose

The course promotes the student's knowledge of how theory and methods in the Trans-disciplinary area can develop projects in architecture and planning in practice. The course aims to provide the student with tools for starting and managing project development and defining projects in architecture / design and planning within a Trans-disciplinary framework, ie where different disciplines in theory and practice meet.

Architecture and design have a synthesizing approach and is based on project design in often complex environments. This course aims to train students to build a project in a multidisciplinary setting. The course focuses on the Project Boundary Definition (NAIL) where the students work in groups to write a NAIL (see assignment DRAFT and FINAL submissions). This is done including various disciplines (professionals) and in cooperation with industry/business and public/social sector stakeholders in the Reality Studio ARK496.

About Boundaries:

Boundaries are used by different agents of the built environment, from geographers to architects, and they can be physical (site, context, etc), administrative (roles and responsibilities, jurisdiction, municipal, regional, etc.), or social (stakeholders, target groups, users, etc), always as a way of delimiting and defining a project. Boundaries are also used in organizational theory, where they also include temporal (the time-frame of projects) and symbolic dimensions (cultural, hierarchical, etc.) (Grzelec, 2019). In the NAIL assignment we will explore all these dimensions of boundaries blended together and we will also ask you to expand to ethical and professional dimensions of boundaries.

The project (NAIL) will be based on the current project areas/stakeholders in the Reality Studio course,  and could include experiences from earlier projects (rewind the design process) or ideas of a fictive project in future.

The process of writing a NAIL involves limiting the project and setting up boundaries. The course will give you insights in theory about trans-disciplinary design but always relate to projects in reality. And some knowledge area will also be based in research. The point of departure is, however, always rooted in practice and reality. The lecturers will give examples from different cultures also from extreme environments.


The course runs in parallel and connection with the course ARK496 Reality Studio.

See CANVAS Calendar and Course Summary below for the detailed schedule.


The details for this and all other sessions in the course are provided in the course calendar on Canvas.

Course design

The learning is structured around the course assignment that focuses on defining a Transdisciplinary project in architecture and urban design and planning. As inspiration and support, lectures and supervision seminars are given. The course literature is discussed in dialogue with the teachers within the supervision process to develop and inspire the course assignment. With the aid of tutoring seminars, and in dialogue with the instructors, students formulate a topic, structure and content for their final paper. The final paper should be an academic text, complete with references and a bibliography.

See Course Summary below for detailed list of course moments.


Learning outcomes and syllabus

General learning objectives from course syllabus

Learning objectives:

  • Knowledge and understanding
    • Demonstrate an understanding of a particular theoretical trajectory in architecture and urban design.
  • Abilities and skills
    • Understand and analyse arguments laid out in theoretical texts.
    • Use theoretical texts as basis for formulating a position or query.
    • Appropriately use citation, references and bibliography.
  • Ability of assessment and attitude
    • Promote the value (and joy!) of history, theory, and method in architecture.
    • Critically relate their own writing and arguments in the course to larger issues or questions in architecture and urban design, as outlined in the brief.

Link to the syllabus on Studieportalen: AKR700

Specific learning objectives adjusted for the Spring 2023:

  • Knowledge and understanding:
    • The course conveys how theoretical reasoning can shape Transdisciplinary projects in reality.
    • The course provides insight into different approaches to knowledge development in different geographical and cultural contexts with the participation of different actors in society.
  • Abilities and skills
    • Use theoretical texts as a starting point for formulating or evaluating a Transdisciplinary project and finding ways of working for this. The student must correctly use quotations, references and bibliography.
  • Ability of assessment and attitude
    • Promote the value of theory and method for designing architecture / planning projects in practice.
    • The student must take a position on his professional role in Transdisciplinary projects and his approach.


Examination form

Each course assignment is reviewed and graded after submission at the end of the semester.

As a minimum, to pass the course and receive a grade, you need:

  • Presence at all scheduled activities is required. Some absence can be accepted if there are legitimate reasons (e.g. temporary sickness). In other cases, supplementary assignments have to be handed in in order to compensate for absence (e.g. written reviews on literature). Non-compensated absence will negatively influence the grades in an individual basis (Regarding missed deadlines or other compulsory activities, please contact the teachers for solution on how to compensate);
  • Active participation at seminars, workshops and in group work;
  • Course participation, hand-ins and assignments of sufficient quality (i.e. that fulfills the course objectives and specific assignment requirements);
  • Delayed submission of hand-ins without any approved motivation will negatively influence the grades;
  • Electronic course evaluations should be filled in.

Formal Specifications for the Course

Course code at Chalmers: ARK700
3,0 ECTS higher education credits
Grading: TH - Pass with distinction (5), Pass with credit (4), Pass (3), Fail
Education cycle: Second,-cycle, Advanced level
Major subject: Architecture, Architecture and Engineering
Department: Architecture and Civil Engineering
Teaching language: English
Study period: 3–4, Spring term 2023
Credit distribution: At the end of study period 4

Course literature

Main literature references according to course syllabus:

  • Frediani, AA; Fench, MA; Ferrera, IN; (2011). Change by Design - Building Communities Through Participatory Design. Urban Culture Press, New Zealand. PDF
  • Hamdi, Nabeel (2010). The placemaker's guide to building community. London, CPI Antony Rowe. PDF
  • Nyström, Maria (2002), Making Research- about what and how? In Nordic Journal of Architectural Research, Vol. 4 , (p 43-52) (Mode 1 och 2, tacit knowledge, systems analysis – a language for design) PDF
  • Nyström Maria and Lars Reuterswärd (2003). Meeting Mars- recycling Earth. Svensk Byggtjänst
  • Pitera, Dan & Wilkins, Craig L. (2014). Activist Architecture: Philosophy and Practice of the Community Design Center. Detroit Collaborative Design Center, USA PDF


Course summary:

Date Details Due