1. Handbook
  2. Subjects
  3. Architecture as Spectacle
  4. Print

Architecture as Spectacle (ABPL90369)

Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5Not available in 2018

Or view archived Handbooks


Year of offerNot available in 2018
Subject levelGraduate coursework
Subject codeABPL90369
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

This subject considers the production of architecture in the age of commodification. It considers the place of architecture in a world that is growingly preoccupied with the visual and the culture of consumerism. It reflects on how such a world conceives, experiences and consumes architectural design as spectacle, placing striking visuality and iconography above other design intentions. Colonial imagining of otherness, nation building, heritage conservation, tourism industry, popular culture and media, as well as the branding practice of the 21st century will be considered as the broader political and social contexts in which the conception of architecture as spectacle arises.

Through a variety of case studies — ranging from the architecture of national pavilions at the world exposition series, the signatory works of 21st century’s star architects and their shaping of the image of the global cities, the strategic use of architecture in promoting place identity, arts, and heritage, to the commercial architecture of shopping malls, entertainment centres, and international franchise brands — we will reflect on, not only the commodification of architecture, but also how architectural design operates as a medium of commodification of culture, heritage, memory, and otherness. The subject will also explore the extent to which the notion of architecture as spectacle has infiltrated the space of everyday life, the house and the perception of urban life in general. We will then ponder on the effects of the commodification of architecture in the way we experience and shape our built environments.

Intended learning outcomes

On the completion of the subject, students should be able to:

  • Interpret architecture as a form of cultural production in which design ideas are shaped by, and subsequently giving shape to, broader cultural conceptions such as identity, otherness, memory, authenticity and difference;
  • Analyse the effects of commodification and consumerism on the production and reception of architectural design in the 21st century;
  • Critique contemporary architecture while drawing from broader social theories and interdisciplinary criticism of the popular culture of the 21st century;
  • Develop a critical view on the commodification of 21st century built environment and apply it in design work.

Generic skills

Critical reading skills, oral and visual presentation skills, research skills, essay writings, engagement with interdisciplinary works.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Recommended background knowledge

Code Name Teaching period Credit Points
ABPL90117 Twenty-first Century Architecture
Semester 2

Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • Tutorial presentations (based on visual and written materials to the total equivalent of 1000 words), due weeks 4-7, 20%
  • Annotated bibliography and essay outline (1000 words) due week 8, 20%
  • Research essay (3000 words), due week 12, 60%

Hurdle requirement: Attendance and participation in 75% of tutorial classes (weeks 1-12), is a hurdle requirement.

Dates & times

Not available in 2018

Time commitment details

170 Hours

Further information

Last updated: 16 June 2018