ARCH0760 Spring19 S01 Palaces: Built to Impress

ARCH0760 Spring19 S01 Palaces: Built to Impress

Built to Impress Poster.jpg

Schedule: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays

Location: Rhode Island Hall


A course with Carl Walsh, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Archaeology, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World

TA: Karl Krusell, Graduate Student, Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World
TA's Office Hours: Thursdays 1-3 in Rhode Island Hall Grad Studio or Mezzanine

Carl’s Office Hours: Monday and Wednesdays 3-4
Carl’s Office: Room 207, Rhode Island Hall

Carl’s E-mail: carl_walsh@brown.ed

Syllabus: Please note readings are subject to change so please check reading assignments on canvas for changes: Built to Impress-1.pdf

Course Description and Learning Outcomes

Ancient palaces capture the imagination as monumental and grandiose manifestations of power and wealth. These were the residences of kings, queens, and courtiers, built to impress with their echoing halls, exquisite paintings and statuary, exotic building materials, fragrant gardens, and sumptuous reception rooms. This course explores these phenomenological aspects of palatial design in the ancient Mediterranean (and beyond), delving into how architecture shapes human experience in such monumental spaces. Through a series of case studies from ancient Egypt, Sudan, Syria, Israel, Turkey, and Greece, we examine how palatial architectural design manipulates the senses, the body, behavior, and the mind to create theatrical and performative arenas. We also visit historic and monumental buildings in and around Providence, exploring firsthand how architectural design is all about the human experience. Prepare to be impressed!


Class Structure and Accessibility

Classes will be run three times a week, with the Monday and Wednesday sessions usually being a hybrid lecture/seminar structure and Fridays being an excursion activity class, involving visiting buildings in and around Providence to experience the phenomenological and experiential aspects of architecture. Please inform me if you have a disability or other condition that might require some modification of any of these course procedures, especially as some of the games involve physical activity.  You may speak with me after class or during office hours.  For more information, contact Students and Employee Accessibility Services at 401-863-9588 or



The Canvas course page will be the main tool for checking on announcements, view set weekly readings, view assignments, and post and respond to questions. Please make sure you have set yourself as receiving announcements for the course page and make sure you check it regularly for important information like rooms changes etc.  


Course Requirements and Expectations

Over 15 weeks, students will spend 2 hours 30 mins per week in class (37.5 hours total). Required reading is expected to take up approximately 6 hours per week (90 hours total). In addition, research, writing, and work for the blogs and final project is estimated at total of approximately 60 hours over the course of the term.


Each student is expected to do the weekly readings thoroughly, participate in activities and discussions, and take extensive notes during class lectures and discussions. It is strongly recommended that you keep detailed notes as you do your weekly readings and during lectures and class discussions, as well as noting down your own thoughts and ideas on concepts. Remember that this course is meant to encourage you to contribute to scholarship! Throughout the semester, students will be asked and expected to act as discussants of selected articles and posing relevant discussion questions to the class.




The breakdown of course assessment is as follows:

  • Registered Attendance and Participation (25%)
  • Weekly Experience Feed Blog (5%x10 = 50%)
  • Final Project: Design a Palace: Annotated Architectural Plan (25%)


Weekly Experience Feed Blogs (50%)

The Experience Feed blogs are intended to act as reflective multi-media records of weekly readings, topics, and excursions, documenting the students experience. Students will provide a written account of their experience and thoughts of classes and readings (300 words), as well as uploading pictures, video, and soundbites of their experience of architecture and excursions that week. A class Instagram account will be used to post images and document our experiences too, as the blog site as minimal storage for media. The idea is to get students to think critically and creatively on how architectural design impacts experience, and the agency behind this design. These will help to provide a multimedia documentation of ideas, helping to develop perspectives that can be developed further for the final project.

Blog Link:


Final Project: Design a Palace: Annotated Architectural Plan (25%)

The final project builds on the Experience Feed Blog by applying these reflections and observations regarding monumental architecture/design to an imagined architectural plan of a palace. The architectural plan will be designed in consultation with Carl and will be contextualized in a specific region and time period covered in the class. The design must be informed based on comparisons and analogies of materials, architectural features, decoration, physical location, sensorial and experiential aspects, and layouts of contemporary palace buildings from the region and culture. The primary focus of this project is to consider the agency and design choices of these buildings and their incorporated phenomenological experiences into the design.  This will act as the culmination and synthesis of the overall discussion and excursions over the course of the semester.


The architectural plan can be constructed using a medium/material of the student’s choosing, incorporating options like modelling and illustration. The plan must be accompanied by detailed academic annotations, that discuss the informed intents, reasoning, and design choice for features based on comparisons with known archaeological material. These annotations must include at least 10 readings from the course reading lists and 5 peer reviewed articles and/or publications from outside the set reading. Annotations should be accompanied by further multi-media material like models and illustrations expanding the lived experience of rooms and spaces, even including photos, video, and soundbites gathered through the Experience Feed blogs. This works to help conceptualize the desired phenomenological aspects of the architectural plan.


Projects will then be examined and constructively critiqued and discussed in the last week of the semester, with the option of having these displayed as a small exhibition in the Joukowsky Institute.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due