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What does architecture say about a society?

Posted Eureka Lessons 10th grade social science, 11th Grade Social Science, 6th Grade social science, 7th Grade Social Science, 8th grade social science, 9th grade social science, English, Grade 11-12, Grade 7, Grade 8, Grade 9-10, Lessons, Writing

Objective: SWBAT connect historical context to different types of architectural styles across various cultures and eras.


French CastlethumbMy art history professor once told me that one of the best ways to study history is to look at the structures still standing.  It’s as if buildings wear facial expressions- they can convey the feelings of the very people whose hands had built them.  What do you think our buildings say about us today?


Materials Needed:

 What does architecture say about us?

Teacher notes, assignment: What Does Our Architecture Say About Us?, and slide show of various structures from time periods we have studied

o    Greek     o    Roman     o    Medieval Europe     o    English Tudor     o    Comparing old Shanghai and Modern Shanghai (w/ Bund and other vestiges of western imperialism)     o    Industrial Era     o    Post-modern     o    Sky-scrapers and city plans

Example for Students:

mcdonalds chatsworth

In a photograph of a city called Chatsworth, I noticed an abundance of mauve colored single-story structures embellished with bright yellow and red signs that read “McDonalds”.  They appear to have been built without regard to aesthetics or safety.  The structures look cheap and I estimate building one took only a few weeks.  Located at one end of each McDonalds is a path for small automobiles to drive around to a window.  Next to the window is some sort of food related artwork and text.  I think this might have been a primitive mobile sustenance station, much like the ones we have today.  Contrary to what we always believed, people must not have moved very much on foot in the year 2010. Everything seems centered around ease of access for cars. 

Time Agenda
3 1. Warm Up: What do buildings say about the times?
20 2. Discussion and Slide Show: We will analyze buildings from various time periods and connect society to the architecture (with notes attached)
5 3. Go over instructions for "What Does Our Architecture Say About Us?" assignment, go over example together
25+ 4. Independent Practice: Classwork/homework – What Does Our Architecture Say About Us?
  Guided Group Practice:Class discussion on various structures and their significance to history.
  Independent Practice:What Does Our Architecture Say About Us?



If students are not able to finish “What Does Our Architecture Say About Us?” it becomes homework.


Check homework the following day to check for student understanding.  Share some of the more insightful ones with the class.

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