The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture

This site is best viewed using a modern browser with Javascript turned on and Flash (version 7 or higher). You may need to upgrade your Flash Player or turn Javascript on in your browser.

If you are having problems viewing Flash and have IE7 and Flash 9 installed, please run the Adobe Flash Player Uninstaller and then reinstall your Flash player.

fall 2008

ARC 350R:
Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy

Anna Klingmann

While building booms on a global scale are rare, the world has seen its fair share over the years. But the boom that we are currently experiencing is unique, not merely because of its extraordinary longevity, but also because of its uniquely 21st century take on architecture’s purpose as a brand. Increasingly, the skylines and urban landscapes throughout the “Global Village” have become “staged brandscapes” composed of towering symbols of corporate identity, where everything seems to be arranged for effect.

It is a fact that Prada, Louis Vuitton, BMW, and other leading brands progressively employ architecture as a central part of a larger marketing strategy. But architecture and urban planning also increasingly borrow from branding. Cities such as Bilbao, Shanghai, and Dubai have in recent years all extensively used architecture in order to enhance their image and elevate their position in the global village. And if you count all the buildings that are currently under construction in the Far East, the U.S., and Europe as part of an attempt to redefine urban, regional, and in some cases also national identities, you will notice how integral architecture is to branding and vice versa. Notwithstanding its pervasive influence on architecture and urbanism, branding has a controversial reputation. The paradox of the brand’s intended application as a catalyst for generating a distinct message in the global marketplace lies in the simple fact that it has contributed to the growing homogenization of people and places. More often than not, branding strategies fail to establish sensitive connections to particular contexts by imposing standardized forms and formulas on the urban or suburban landscape.

Based on Anna Klingmann’s book Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, the material presented in this seminar intends to examine the current conflict of architecture as an ambivalent construct caught between two imperatives: on the one hand to achieve autonomy of architecture as an independent cultural construct, on the other to break this autonomous status into an expanded field of mass-culture.

The structure of this seminar rests on phenomenological, analytical, as well as speculative methods of investigation. It provides an exploratory analysis of cultural and economic tendencies, which along with an examination of architectural strategies intend to inspire a transformation of architectural method. Students are encouraged to formulate and present an affirmative critique by reframing architecture as a critical tool to intervene within a contested terrain of both commercial and civic ambitions.


Week 0: Friday, 8/29

Bi-weekly Reading Assignment:

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Klingmann Anna, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, Chapters 1, 2

Toffler, Alvin, Chapters 2, 4, 11-16

Research Assignment:

Questions and discussion

Week 1: Wednesday & Friday, 9/5

Analogous to Le Corbusier’s “Towards a New Architecture”, this session speculates, how current economic, social, and technological forces affect and shape architectural discourse and method. To this effect, a phenomenological overview of contemporary products is discussed in conjunction to emerging social realities and user behaviors.

Bi-weekly Reading Assignment:

Klingmann Anna, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, Chapter 3

Schmitt Bernd, Experiential Marketing, Part I & II

Koolhaas, Rem, Shopping: Brand Zone (article by Hiromi Hosoya ans Markus Schaefer)

Bittner Regina, The City as an Event (article)

Pine, Joseph, The Experience Economy (use as reference)

Research Assignment:

Questions and discussion, Select project

Week 2: 9/10 & 9/12

No class,

Week 3: Wednesday 9/17

This session outlines major economic trends that govern the information economy of global mass culture, and debates how these forces might redefine our conceptions of space. In order to investigate architectural strategies as terrains of possible conflict or cohesion in line with the forces of the market economy, they need to be examined in relation to the confluence of several factors: the rapidly changing demands of an event economy, a cultural landscape dominated by consumption, and lastly the socio-economic implications of the media.

Bi-weekly Reading Assignment:

Harvey, David, The Condition of Postmodernity, Part I &II

Toffler, Alvin, Chapters 18-27

Week 3: Friday 9/19

Present political, geographic, and economic context of project with group feedback

Description of project and reasons (hand in draft)

Week 4: 9/24 & 9/26

No class

Week 5: Wednesday 10/1 & Friday 10/3

As architecture has always been closely linked to economics it could be argued that architecture in the system of capitalism is a product, which like any other commodity promotes the expansion of profit, simultaneously servicing the increase of production but more recently also consumption. Just as Modernism was a movement driven by a Fordist economy, Postmodernism is examined as a movement contingent on the socio-economic climate of consumerism, accelerated by the pervasiveness of mass media.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

Klingmann Anna, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, Chapter 7

Venturi, Robert et al. Learning from Las Vegas, Part II: Ugly and Ordinary Architecture, or the Decorated Shed

Koolhaas Rem, Delirious New York

Dear, Michael, The Postmodern Condition Chapter 7: Postmodern Urbanism

Week 6: Friday, 10/10

This lecture continues our ongoing exploration of capitalism and its effects on the construction of our urban environment. Secondly, the question will be explored in how far the urban fabric acts as a code - as a system of signs substantiating the social order of capitalism and its internal classifications. As examples we will juxtapose the writings of Rem Koolhaas and Robert Venturi of New York and Las Vegas as postmodern readings of the capitalist city.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

Klingmann Anna, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, Chapter 4

Zukin, Sharon, Landscapes of Power: Chaper 3: The Urban Landscape

Koolhaas, Rem, Shopping: City of Shopping (article by John McMorrough)

Gottdiener, Mark, The Theming of America (read what interests you)

Week 7: Wednesday, 10/15

Today’s cities are designed as imaginary landscapes. In their performance and presentation of urbanity, they communicate identities that draw their fascination from the media, commercial enterprises, and brand culture. In all instances, marketing is assimilated into the architectural design process mediating perceptual specificity in conjunction with the communication of narratives - blending social values with the strategic thought of finance.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

Klingmann Anna, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, Chapter 5, 6

Week 8: 10/22 & 10/24

No class

Week 9: Wednesday 10/29

The Choreography of Unpredictability (Tschumi); The Accommodating Critical (Koolhaas); Datascapes (MVRDV); Time-based Strategies (UN Studio); Parametric Design (Form: Greg Lynn, Nox: Lars Spuybroek) This session outlines the various positions taken by contemporary critical practice reframing architecture increasingly as a terrain influenced by consumer culture. By looking at the work of different offices, this session discusses how architectural offices might subvert, adapt, or simply respond to some of the market forces we are confronted with.

Friday: 10/31

Group presentation powerpoint 15 min each

Students present and hand in final analysis, context and beginning of critique. Use text, images, and diagrams.

Start Research Assignment 2+3: Develop critique and outlook

Bi-Weekly Reading Assignment:

Klingmann Anna, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy, Chapter 8, 9, 10,11

Kotler, Philip; Haider, Donald; Rein, Irving, Marketing Places, Attracting Investment Industry and Tourism to Cities, States, and Nations, (read excerpts)

Week 10: Wednesday 11/05

This session examines the use of architecture as a catalyst to set off economic and social transformations. Departing from the premise that architecture can act as a powerful channel to reverse economic decline and promote urban revitalization this session speculates on the potential of architecture to act as a strategic facilitator to enhance economic and cultural values.

Week 10: Friday 11/07

As we are faced with an increasingly homogenized brand world inhabited by exchangeable offerings—be it golf communities, retail brands, or leisure resorts—we are developing a growing hunger for the real. Yet, too many real estate developers and companies advertise “authentic” experiences when in reality they offer standardized “me-too” experiences that span the globe from New York to Dubai. This drives the demand for genuine place-based experiences that draw their inspiration from the local cultures and offerings. This session will categorize different notions of authenticity and speculate how architects can offer authentic experiences in an increasingly inauthentic world.

Bi-Weekly Reading Assignment:

Gilmore James, Authenticity, chapters 1-8

Week 11: 11/12 & 11/14

No class

Week 12: Wednesday 11/19 & 11/21

Group presentation powerpoint 15 min each & discussion

Week 13: Wednesday 11/26 – 11/28

No Class

Week 14: Wednesday 12/3 & 12/5

Group presentation powerpoint 15 min each & discussion

Week 15:

Hand in Final Papers with drawings, illustrations, and diagrams in digital format as well as print.


Text of 4500 words illustrated with analytical diagrams, photographs, and drawings.

Preparation of PowerPoint presentation / 15 min.

Grades will be based 25% on consistent and execution of inventive, consistent research, 25% on powerpoint presentation, 50% on paper


Since we have a limited number of sessions, it is important that you attend each session. In addition, it is mandatory for all students to attend Anna Klingmann’s public lecture, which will give an overview of current trends in brand architecture.


Student will be required to purchase the following books:

Le Corbusier, Towards a New Architecture

Harvey, David: The Condition of Postmodernity

Anna Klingmann, Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy

Koolhaas, Rem, Delirious New York

Venturi, Robert et al., Learning from Las Vegas

Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave

Pine Joseph et al., Authenticity