Global Architecture History

Professor Mark Jarzombek on what Buddhist temples express, transfer of architectural techniques, and the Eurocentric worldview

videos | February 11, 2015

Why may temples of different religions in different countries be similar? Why is it so important to have schematics and plans when studying ancient architecture? Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Mark Jarzombek explains how this work is truly just getting started.

Global architectural history in today’s world might sound completely unproblematic. Architectural history, we have buildings, we need architectural history, we know we live in a global world, obviously global architectural history.

Actually the idea of global architectural history, which sort of began to take shape in the 70s and 80s, really is still an emerging question. So I can sort of explain that: up until now, if you wanted to study a building, for example, the Buddhist temple Borobudur in Indonesia. You would have looked at Buddhist architecture. You might have looked at the architecture of Indonesia. And you might have looked at how it was sighted, and the beautiful Buddhist frieze that was painted along it and how religion was expressed through this architecture.

But you still need to have a drawing, you still need to have plans. If you go to Southeast Asia, where there are hundreds and hundreds of fantastic temples with no plans, no sections, no drawings, how are you going to study them? So we need to send our architectural students there, and make the drawings, make the sections, and site plans, so that we can at least have a basis for a discussion.

Professor of the History and Theory of Architecture, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Associate Dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
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