8. A305 History of Architecture and Design 1890‒1939: from 1975 to the present

Tim Benton (The Open University)


The first third-level art-history course, A305 History of Architecture and Design 1890–1939, at The Open University was originally presented in 1975 and ran for eight years. The course included 24 text Units of 12,000 words each, bound in pairs, 24 TV and 32 radio programmes and featured an eight-week student project. By way of a series of coincidences, the course achieved a wider diffusion. The course was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1976, and six of the TV programmes were translated into Italian and shown on Italian national television. The course made a token reappearance in the Radical Pedagogies exhibit at the Biennale of 2014, and this led to a full-scale exhibition at the Canadian Center for Architecture in Montreal (2017‒18) with a second showing at Garagem Sul (Centro Cultural de Belém Foundation) cultural centre in Portugal. This article explores the reasons for the interest in the course outside the University and possible lessons it might have for us in the age of the massive open online course (MOOC).

Keywords: A305, architecture, design, film, distance teaching

Full text: OAJ_Issue9_Benton_final (PDF 22 MB).

DOI:  http://dx.doi.org/10.5456/issn.2050-3679/2020w08

Biographical note 

Tim Benton is Professor Emeritus of Art History at The Open University. In 2008, he was visiting Professor in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, Columbia University. In 2009, he was the Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professor of Art History at Williams College, Massachusetts. From 2010, he was visiting Professor at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne.