AR-485 / 3 crédits

Enseignant: Tombesi Paolo

Langue: Anglais


Political Economy of Design (PED) seeks to position and discuss architecture in relation to the world of production, economic interests and community benefits or decisions, at a local and global scale.


PED 2023 focuses on 'power' and how the ways it can affect the space of architecture as a discipline. By integrating yet moving beyond the stylistic, technological or sociological aspects of the latter, the discussion reviews the industrial elements that are likely to affect programmatic objectives, formal directions and technical outcomes of building projects.

Such discussion has a strong comparative bent, and is coloured by the notion of innovation - what it means from a social, technical and cultural point of view, and how it enters and affects different building markets.

Attention is directed at understanding the distinction between innovation on one side and invention and technological change on the other. In this context, architecture's connection with planning and building disciplines is examined and criticised in the attempt to formulate a strategic framework for its use as an environmental policy instrument.


architectural practice, building culture, knowledge production, discursive and institutional frameworks, economics, wealth, industrial structure, power relations, professional boundaries, community involvement, information exchange

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Identify the various types of environmental conditions that have an impact upon the role of the design professions.
  • Analyze the configuration of the building industry and the nature of its products in any given region.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the relationship between design practice, cultural values, spatial needs and industrial landscapes.

Transversal skills

  • Plan and carry out activities in a way which makes optimal use of available time and other resources.
  • Communicate effectively with professionals from other disciplines.
  • Assess one's own level of skill acquisition, and plan their on-going learning goals.
  • Demonstrate the capacity for critical thinking
  • Take feedback (critique) and respond in an appropriate manner.
  • Access and evaluate appropriate sources of information.
  • Respect the rules of the institution in which you are working.

Teaching methods

The subject has a lecture component and a research component.

The lecture component provides a general theoretical framework largely borrowed from political economy, industrial theory, innovation theory and labour studies literature, but adapted to the analysis of the design and building sector.

The research component seeks to apply the elements of this framework to a specific situation providing opportunities for applied research.


Expected student activities

Lecture attendance

Fieldwork research in archives, institutions or industry organisations

Data collatin, structuring and report writing

Class presentation



Assessment methods

Assessment revolves around three components:

  • Class participation, or the display of one's ability to discuss how project outputs can be used to reflect about decision-making patterns, economic means, social priorities, and technological alternatives.
  • Gathering of discussion-specific data, showing one's ability to research and collate information about relevant technological options in given industrial contexts /situations.
  • Essay due at the end of the term, demonstrating one's ability to identify and address key design and construction issues against availability of resources and types of social conditions.


Office hours Yes
Assistants No
Forum Yes


Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)



  • General and specific references provided by the instructor in the course of the semester.
  • Students' contribution to the bibliography through the identification of primary sources is expected.


Moodle Link

Dans les plans d'études

  • Semestre: Automne
  • Forme de l'examen: Pendant le semestre (session d'hiver)
  • Matière examinée: Political economy of design
  • Cours: 2 Heure(s) hebdo x 12 semaines
  • Type: optionnel
  • Semestre: Automne
  • Forme de l'examen: Pendant le semestre (session d'hiver)
  • Matière examinée: Political economy of design
  • Cours: 2 Heure(s) hebdo x 12 semaines
  • Type: optionnel

Semaine de référence

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