Harvard’s free online course, The Architectural Imagination

They have extended the end date to 30 May, leaving plenty of time to complete it, even if you start now, as I have done.

Not just for architects or the architecturally inclined!

“We’ll speak about the architectural imagination. And I’m going to suggest that some concept like the imagination is necessary if we want to treat architecture as a mode of knowledge. The classical philosophers said, the soul never thinks without phantasm, which is to say that thought needs a material image, something to carry the thought. So we begin to think of the imagination as bridging the gap between perception and understanding.

What’s implied is that there is actually a space in the mind where the work of picturing takes place.The imagination is different from other mental processes
like perceiving or remembering insofar as to perceive something requires that something has to be there. And that’s not required of the imagination.
And even to remember something– the event or the object or the person–
it had to have already been there in order to remember.

But the imagination creates its image. The image isn’t there until the imagination produces it. The imagination is also different from a concept because the imagination requires the materialization of thought.
For example, I can conceptualize freedom.
I can even explain to you what freedom is as a concept. But it’s very difficult to show you freedom.In order to show you freedom, I would have to construct a picture. I would have to construct a scene. Then I could help you imagine freedom in that materialization, in that scene, in that picturing.
So we should think of the imagination as the capacity for producing images, the mental capacity to picture things. And what we want to show is that there is a specific kind of imagination, which is the architectural imagination.”
— Michael Hays, Professor of Architectural Theory



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