Six Traditions

Theory of Architecture I | II; History of Architecture III | IV


  • Bruno Gil



In the academic year 2017-2018, an experience was launched in 4 course units: Theory of Architecture I and II, and History of Architecture III and IV. The researched object would be the same, while aiming at its intrinsic variations as a way to unravel common and uncommon grounds between theory and history.

Besides my voice in the “role of directed research” and the students’ voice in “the role of play”, I felt the need to introduce a third voice, one that would help to “free up the habitual links between things”, in theory and in history. It was how Charles Jencks was introduced to students. The challenge was to question his mappings of architectural evolution, by scrutinising his “evolutionary trees”.

In 1973, Charles Jencks published Modern Movements in Architecture, a book resulting from his doctoral dissertation with Reyner Banham’s guidance. It presented a critical mapping of modern architecture, as a solely movement, through the rereading of moments, objects and actors according to “Six Traditions”: logical, idealist, self-conscious, intuitive, activist, and unself-conscious (80% of environment). The permanently incomplete and questionable “evolutionary tree” – yet always intriguing –, had been updated by Jencks himself: in 2000 (Fig.1), and in 2015 (Fig.2). With the latter, new six traditions replaced the previous ones. The Exhibition “Six Traditions” aimed to reveal these two updates.

In History of Architecture III and IV, the works focused on the themes of the twentieth century, while in Theory of Architecture I and II, the focus was on the themes of the last twenty years. In group work, written essays introduced, described and questioned the topics within the maps, and were complemented by posters, which would be the core of the Exhibition “Six Traditions”. The work was displayed at the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra between January 15th and February 28th, 2019.


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