Non-Western Architecture-Syllabus

Native America, the Islamic Middle East, and Asia

Department of Architecture
University of Idaho
Spring 2002

Course No.: Arch 499/502
Credit: 3
Location: AAN 203
Time: Mon & Wed 9:00-10:20 AM

Instructor: Professor Anne Marshall
Office: AAS 305
            Mon & Fri 1:00-2:00 PM
Phone: 885-2891, 885-6781



The purpose of this seminar is to introduce students to architecture that comes from beyond the tradition of Western civilization. This course will examine architecture and how it is shaped by religious beliefs, political systems, and geographical context.


  1. To develop an understanding that architecture is shaped by culture.

  2. To be able to "read" architecture for cultural clues and to improve analytical skills during this process.

  3. To develop an awareness of differences and similarities between various cultures and built environments throughout the world. Through this awareness, to develop an appreciation for cultural diversity, and a tolerance and understanding of people who are unlike ourselves.

  4. To expand our architectural vocabulary; to rethink how to design and build for the 21st century. Through a broader vision, to become better designers who are more sensitive to the needs of the diversity of clients likely to be encountered in the emerging global economy.  

  5. To improve speaking, writing, and reasoning skills through class discussions, research, writing assignments, oral presentations, and web site creation.

  6. To improve graphic computer skills such as scanning, web design, and the use of PhotoShop, PowerPoint, and FrontPage.

  7. To make information on non-Western architecture available on the world wide web.


The course will be organized geographically, and will focus on architecture in three areas of the world: Asia, the Middle East, and North America. The selection is made so as to include only architecture that is not usually covered in traditional Western architecture history courses (such as ARCH 365/386), and architecture that has been experienced by the instructor. Although the course will focus on primitive and preindustrial vernacular architecture, it will also include high-style architecture that is culture-specific, for example, Moghul palaces. Class activities will include lectures, discussion on required reading, and a research project that is presented orally to the class then posted as a web site.

Course Requirements

  1. Attend class and participate fully in all discussions and other activities.

  2. Complete reading assignments (1-2 articles per week), write a short (200 word) summary and analysis of one of them, and be prepared to discuss the articles in class. Students may be asked to lead class discussions.

  3. Conduct research on a specific topic within the realm of non-Western architecture. This may be done with a partner if you wish. There are 3 components to this project:
    a. Collect information. Compile a bibliography and a list of web links.
    b. Give a 20-30 minute oral seminar report to the class. 
    c. Assemble a web site. The web site may incorporate drawings, computer models, photographs without copyright restrictions, and text.

Note: If you have little or no experience in computer graphics and web creation,  donít panic!  Workshops will be held on scanning, PhotoShop, web design, and FrontPage. Some of these activities may be outside of regularly scheduled class hours so as to allow access to multimedia classrooms and computer labs.

Get on the E-mail list

I will make up an e-mail list and use it to communicate to you regarding this class. If you have just transferred to University of Idaho you need to set up an e-mail account. Call the helpdesk at 885-APAL or go to (At the beginning of some semesters a temporary helpdesk is set up in the south end of the Commons foodcourt.)

Required Textbook
Traditions in Architecture: Africa, America, Asia, and Oceania
by Dora P. Crouch and June G. Johnson

Order the book online from Oxford University Press, for $39.95, at:

Books on Reserve

Native American Architecture
Peter Nabokov and Robert Easton

Contemporary Native American Architecture
Carol Herse Krinsky

Architecture of the Islamic World
George Michell, editor

Oriental Architecture: Vol 1 India, Indonesia, Indochina
Mario Bussagli

Oriental Architecture: Vol 2 China, Korea, Japan
Mario Bussagli

See also Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, edited by Paul Oliver.       Reference Section    REF NA 208.E53  1997   3 volumes

Topics for Oral Seminar Reports and Web Sites

It is highly recommended that you look through the books on reserve before deciding on a topic.

Native American



Great Lakes
Northwest Coast

Saudi Arabia
Morocco & Algeria
Syria, Lebanon, Israel


E-mail your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices to by Monday, January 21. If you wish to speak on a topic not on this list and not on the schedule of lectures, discuss with (or e-mail) the instructor. The intent is that the instructorís lectures, any guest speakersí lectures, and the studentsí oral seminar reports cover the most significant areas. Note that the reports will be on different days depending on the chosen topic. See the schedule.  


Participation 10%
Article Summaries 20%
Web Links & Bibliography 10%
Oral Seminar Report 25%
Web site 35%