This website presents the research activities by staff at the School of Architecture and Cities at the University of Westminster. It is intended to keep students, teachers and scholars updated on research related activities, events and awards by members of the School and to allow them to share their work and achievements with the wider academic and professional community.
Re-Imagining Coral Reefs, a project led by John Zhang utilising mixed reality technology as a tool for cross-disciplinary research and climate data communication, took part in this year’s Creatch’23 conference.
CREATECH ‘23 is an International Conference and Exhibition on technology for the design, creative, and digital industries. The event is transdisciplinary and multimedia, encouraging wide participation across the spectrum of research and practice. The conference provides a dynamic forum to present new work and share ideas around the creative opportunities enabled by emerging technologies, while the public exhibition and participatory workshops offer hands-on experience of the technologies and practices being discussed.
Description (event/project) / Abstract (publication only): Unproductive work is sometimes called art, or waste. We don’t call it that we call it care.
DWA’s proposed new structure at the heart of the City of London is a cross between a museum and a university, its key function is to investigate technologies of care.
Such technologies are counter-creative, pointing away from capitalism’s endless accumulation and constant change. Technologies of care look after things, nothing is art, nothing waste.
(with many thanks to Dr Alessandro Ayuso for letting us use his leap models)
This volume of Incomplete Works gathers together a number of speculative design projects made by Doctor Watson Architects in the early years of the 21st century. Most, if not all, of the projects began as a response to a specific architectural competition brief, however, DWA never were interested in winning a competition.
This talk will interrogate outsiders’ motivations to visit a refugee camp in an attempt to understand the relationship between outsiders’ gaze and ephemeral heritage of the displaced communities, as well as comment on the ethical implications of these activities. As the first Place & Experience research group meeting for 2023/2024 Academic Year, this talk will be an opportunity to hear about existing research activities and build international links, as well as for the speakers to hear your input and expressions of interest.
The Thursday evening ‘open’ lecture series highlights new technological developments in the fields of architecture, engineering and environmental design. This year, talks cover regenerative construction, low-carbon engineering, retrofit, and materials technology. The series is organised by Will McLean and the talks are filmed by Teo Cruz. The talks take place at 6pm every Thursday evening in room M416 starting on 5th October. Talks are simultaneously live-streamed and recorded with links to stream and recordings found via URL link below.
Littlefield D (2023). “The agency of small things: indicators of ownership on the streets of Liverpool and Belfast”, chapter within, Everyday Streets: Inclusive approaches to understanding and designing streets.
Edited by Agustina Martire, Birgit Hausleitner, and Jane Clossick. UCL Press.
Streets are, on the face of it, physical spaces comprising the raw material of urban design and architecture. This physical realm, however, represents only a small part of the “street”; there is a deeper reality of social constructions guiding and encoding behaviours. Drawing on Actor-Network Theory and New Materialism I suggest these social constructions have the force of a “thing” – just as much force as a physical thing such as a wall.
Kate Jordan (2023) Between the Sacred and Secular: Faith, Space, and Place in the Twenty-First Century, Architecture and Culture, DOI: 10.1080/20507828.2023.2211823
In his 1954 poem, “Church Going,” Phillip Larkin anticipated the end of religion and the ruination of Britain’s churches. “What remains,” Larkin asked “when disbelief has gone? Grass, weedy pavement, brambles, buttress, sky.” In one respect, Larkin was right: the decline of traditional worship in the West did produce scores of redundant churches. But he was also wrong: the tendency to view abandoned churches as proof that ultimately “belief must die,” misses the myriad ways in which faith has, in fact, simply reconfigured and produced new spaces. Such weaknesses in the Western-centric disenchantment model have been recognized in the social sciences, where scholars are increasingly looking toward the built environment to understand new alignments in religion and society. However, the field remains somewhat overlooked by architectural theorists and historians. This article explores religious practices from an architectural perspective, offering an overview of faith, space and place in the twenty-first century.
The River Lee, which can be described as a ‘technoscape’ has been teased and contorted by years of engineering so that it bears little resemblance to its ‘original’ course. In this presentation, Corinna Dean discusses the River Lee as an ecological system interwoven with its urban surroundings by talking about the LIVE project, ‘Liquid Futures: Floating Biodiversity Habitats’ which she carried out with the environmental charity Cody Dock on the River Lee. The co-production project between Dean, members of Cody Dock and students from the University of Westminster has provided an opportunity to think with and through water and its composites, whereby contamination becomes agency.
University of Westminster Transport Group is starting a new research project on the topic of 15-minute City. The cornerstone of this ambitious project lies in the 15-minute City mapping activity, which provides an initial overview for the Innovation Portfolio. By employing robust analytical methods, we will gather international experiences, tools, and best practices, paving the way for subsequent phases of the DUT 15-minute City Transition Pathway roadmap.
Consortium: Benjamin Büttner (project coordination), Sebastian Seisenberger, Cecília Silva, João Teixeira, Enrica Papa, Maja Piecyk, Julian Allen
Leaky Embodiment Alter-ego Personas (LEAPS) are figures envisioned through portraits, animations and drawings. Alien but possibly endearing, LEAPs are tragicomic actors with unwieldy bodies comprised of bulbous, mismatched, ever-changing parts. The LEAPS suggest worlds beyond themselves which do not align precisely with our own; in this slippage they are not only diagnostic; they are also devices, interjecting possibility. The Eastway Studiolo is a speculative architectural project that asks how LEAPs could aid in catalysing the presence of realms of relationality not accessible through the inclusion of normative scale figures in design.
Victoria Watson, Doctor Watson Architects, Incomplete Works Volume Four, Air Grid Publications, Doctor VA Watson 2022 isbn 9781838018023
This is a compilation of 24 items, each of which draws together an extract from a historically significant text about the nature of colour and an image of an Air Grid structure posed in space (a Cosmological Leap).
Victoria Watson, Restoration, Expansion and the Building Art: Contemporary Issues in the Life of Mies van der Rohe’s Museum of Modern Art (New National Gallery) in Berlin, JOURNAL OF HISTORIC BUILDINGS & PLACES | VOLUME 01 2022, 113-124
A consideration of the sensitive issues around the restoration and extension to Mies van der Rohe’s Neue Nationalgalerie (NNG) on the Kulturforum in Berlin. The NNG is important for the City of Berlin because it is the only building realised by Mies in Europe after his emigration to the USA. But its importance goes further than that. It is an icon in the history of twentieth century art and architecture, embodying the ideals of cosmopolitan modernism. As a building of unexampled clarity and virtuosity, any architectural intervention will inevitably invite discussion of means and ends and the appropriateness of change to the fabric and setting of the original historic monument.
In this presentation, I explore small-scale civic gatherings in Finsbury Park and their spatial configurations. Using the lens of conviviality I study how comfortable park users are around difference, and the values of inter-ethnic interaction in public parks. Using the lens of conviviality I study how comfortable park users are around difference, and the values of inter-ethnic interaction in public parks.
Launched in 2020, Translating Ferro/Transforming Knowledge is a 4 year research project that has two central aims – to translate and disseminate the work of Brazilian architect Sergio Ferro to an English speaking audience, and to initiate a new field of enquiry named ‘Production Studies’. For this research seminar, Nick Beech will introduce the project and his own contribution – an examination of Ferro’s reading of the nineteenth century designer William Morris. Throughout Ferro’s writing direct references and allusions are made to the ideas and practices of Morris, illuminating Ferro’s critique of the discipline and profession of architecture, and putting Ferro into critical dialogue with another field inspired by Morris – cultural studies.
Cargo bikes have been gaining popularity as greener, healthier, and more efficient replacements for delivery vans in cities. A growing body of evidence demonstrates their benefits in reducing delivery times, traffic congestion, carbon emissions, air pollution and injury risk to other road users, compared to motorised vehicles. As this new cargo bike logistics sector rapidly expands and transforms, there is a need for careful consideration of workers’ experiences and overall wellbeing. This research
gives new unique insights on the experiences of cargo bike delivery workers in London and the improvements they would like to see in the sector.
Pale is the Old English word for fence, and to go beyond the pale means to have gone beyond the limits of acceptable action. In this presentation, I discuss whether the installation of temporary fencing in public parks to secure ticketed festivals is now beyond the pale. Fences restrict access, but they also affect how spaces are perceived, used and managed. I use photographs taken in London’s parks to illustrate the materiality of these temporary structures, but also their symbolic significance and wider effects. My analysis emphasises the (often overlooked) importance of fences, and the splintered and sequestered nature of contemporary cities – where citizens are increasingly ‘fenced off’.
The way in which people choose to travel has changed throughout history and adaptations have taken place in order to provide the most convenient, efficient and cost-effective method(s) of transport possible. This research explores two trends — technological and socio-economic change — by discussing the effects of their application in the renewed drive to promote car clubs in Greater London through the introduction of new technologies and innovative ways in which a car can be used and hired, thus helping to generate new insights for car sharing. A mixed methods approach was used. Our findings show that there is an opportunity to utilise car clubs as a tool for facilitating a step change away.
In occasion of the international field trip to Slovenia and Croatia of PG students in Urban Design and International Planning, Giulio Verdini participated in a public talk titled ‘Small Places, Great Ideas: Placemaking in Remote Communities’ hosted by the Institute of Urban Planning of Slovenia, 17 April 2023. His talk was on ‘Sustainable Rural Futures: Culture and Communities’. The discussion that followed helped shed light into challenges and opportunities for rural placemaking in the context of rural Slovenia in comparison with the international practice.
Giulio Verdini gave an on-line keynote talk at Tongji University, 1 March 2023, on Scenarios for culture-led regeneration and urban-rural synergies reflecting on cases of action research implemented in China and Morocco over the last ten years. The lecture series is called ‘International Comparison for urban-rural relationship’ and is part of a project funded by the Ministry of Science and Technology of China on urban-rural integration.
Online AMPS conference, December 2022
In books like, ‘The Eyes of the Skin’, architectural theorist, Juhani Pallasmaa posits unmediated sensual experience as the site of authentic encounter with the built environment. Such ideas are today very prevalent in architectural discourse. This paper will argue that they are also highly problematic.
Article in the RIBA Journal by Sean Griffiths about the book ‘Half Earth Socialism’, which is informing the MARch projects of DS15 this year and was also one of the books we read in the ArCCAT reading group.
Davide Deriu has been invited to present his new book, On Balance: Architecture and Vertigo, at the Iuav University of Venice. A discussion with faculty members from different areas (architectural history, theory, representation and technology) will be held at the Ca’ Tron palace. Open to all.
Nick Beech will present ‘Policing the Crisis: Locating the urban in Marxist critiques of the 1970s’ in which the work of Stuart Hall, Chas Critcher, tony Jefferson, John Clarke, and Brian Roberts, Policing the Crisis: Mugging, the State and Law and Order (1978) is assessed for its specific contribution to Marxist urban debates of the 1970s – a period dominated by consideration of ‘crises’ and the reproduction of capital in and through urbanisation.
An extended presentation of Nick Beech’s contribution to the Translating Ferro/Transforming Knowledge for a new field of Production Studies, titled ‘Sérgio Ferro, William Morris, and a New Field’. The talk outlined the ways in which a selective tradition in architectural discourse has circumscribed the work of Morris, evacuating the radical potential of his work. This was followed by an analysis of alternative readings of Morris – the first provided by the English literary critic Raymond Williams and cultural studies; the second provided by the painter, architect and critical historian Sérgio Ferro and the new field of production studies.
Nick Beech presented ‘Sérgio Ferro, William Morris and a New Field’ at the two day International Symposium ‘Production Studies: Architecture, design and the construction site’, held in April at the Maria Antonia University Centre, University of São Paulo, Brazil. Part of the Translating Ferro/Transforming Knowledge for a new filed of Production Studies (TF/TK), the symposium brought together researchers from across the UK and Brazil to discuss the work of the painter, architect and critical historian Sérgio Ferro, his legacies, and the new field of production studies.
We are delighted to announce that our Architectural Humanities research group member, Amy Butt, successfully passed her PhD viva on 30th March 2023 – with no corrections. Amy’s doctoral project, ‘“Doors that could take you elsewhere”: The Architectural Practice of Reading Science Fiction’, was highly commended by the examiners, Dr Caroline Edwards (Senior Lecturer in Literature at Birkbeck) and Dr James Kneale (Associate Professor of Geography at UCL), who were impressed by the outcome of her intellectual journey.
Krystallia Kamvasinou presented a collaborative project focusing on the repurposing of Cody Dock, a post-industrial site in East London, for climate, health, social resilience, and knowledge exchange. Over ten years, Cody Dock has served as an anchor for research and teaching projects at the School of Architecture and Cities, covering topics like temporary urbanism, design for biodiversity and water decontamination, and climate urbanism. The presentation emphasised the power of Cody Dock’s slow placemaking in shaping spaces collaboratively, addressing ecological challenges, demonstrating resilience to unexpected events like the COVID-19 pandemic, and nurturing the values of future practitioners.
In his new book, On Balance: Architecture and Vertigo (Lund Humphries 2023), Davide Deriu reflects on the precarious equilibrium at the heart of contemporary cities, where the drive to conquer ever greater heights has reconfigured our notion of abyss. Exploring the spatial thrills as well as anxieties associated with vertigo, the book traces how different subjects experience, represent and transgress buildings and the spaces in between.
The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion and a drinks reception.
To book a place, please register via Eventbrite (link below).
the modernist, (41, 44-48), Winter MMXXI/XXII
Broadwater Park, Denham was created in 1984 on a dynamic site rich in history. Working with EPR Architects the UK based Danish landscape architect, Preben Jakobsen, created a landscape that is reflected by the low-rise mirrored office building. It is a rationally organised geometric landscape underlain with hydro and circular symbolism. The Great Circle, a large dimpled lawn framed by a tightly clipped field maple hedge, is the focus, counterpoised by an intricate and richly planted Secret Garden which is set in a flowing boulder framework to create a dry-river hortus. Despite Grade II listing, HS2 and a lack of landscape care now threatens the serenity of the design.
the modernists,(45; 17-20) Winter MMXXII/XXIII
In 1960s civic restructuring and political ideals led to progressive design of the new Hounslow Civic Centre. Jakobsen Landscape Architects and Urban Designers, led by Danish landscape architect Preben Jakobsen and his English architect wife Maggi Jakobsen, was appointed to create a landscape design and to integrate the new build with the adjacent Victorian park. Preben, inspired by geometry and geology, created a series of linked modernists gardens connected by polygon concrete paths, terraces, boulders and cobbles. Inside he furnished the Bürolandschaft with hanging and winter gardens. Completed in 1976 the Jakobsen design secured multiple awards, yet by 2019 the complex was demolished.
The new international project led by Enrica Papa and named Knowledge Hub ACUTE (Accessibility and Connectivity knowledge hub for Urban Transformation in Europe) just started. The Knowledge Hub for knowledge transfer on urban accessibility and connectivity will address the challenges of sustainable urban passenger mobility, freight transport and connectivity as an integral and essential part of sustainable urban development. ACUTE will enable cross-project cooperation, extract and consolidate knowledge and initiate efforts to support practitioners.
Hocine Aouchal, Khedidja Boufenara & Giulio Verdini (2022) Heritage Exclusivism in Postcolonial Algeria: Assessing Local Heritageness in Annaba, Towards a Holistic and Participatory Approach to Urban Heritage Management, The Historic Environment: Policy & Practice, 13:4, 399-425, DOI: 10.1080/175675
This paper focuses on urban heritage meanings, values, and management challenges in postcolonial Algeria, and particularly on the question of exclusivism of non-traditional urban places in heritage discourse. In the process of reconstruction of homogenous national postcolonial cultural identities, local heritage views and perspectives are often ignored. This paper suggests looking simultaneously into national policies and legislative texts on urban heritage, and local stakeholders’ perceptions of what heritage should be, to identify gaps and potentially ways to improve current urban heritage governance.
With a local/regional focus, we asked 4 speakers to present on “resilience, recovery, and rejuvenation” and what it means for present and future tourism professionals. A key focus of the discussion was around the ways tourism education and industry can work together to build a better future for tourism.
In each location, we heard from a key industry player, a DMO, an academic, and a graduate alumnus, followed by an open forum discussion.
Corinna Dean has been awarded a Gender Ecologies Grant in collaboration with Marvi Mazhar Associates, as part of the Pakistan UK Season 2022.
This fund offered three to four grants, each worth £30,000 to support the development and delivery of projects that contribute to the Gender Ecologies programme, which explores the intersection of women, climate change and arts. The grant is being awarded to support collaboration between Pakistan and the UK. The proposal is Pakistan-led.
Corinna And Marvi will enter into a dialogue around environmental justice with Marvi engaging with Activism and fisherwoman around the Punjab and Corinna looking at contamination as agency around the River Lea.
A swimming pool is typically an occasion in a story but rarely its heroine. This is unsurprising because on the surface, it is a simple object. However, its shadowy depths reveal a powerful space of imagination where spatial, socio-political, physiological, and psychological constructs are framed.
Through a series of short essays, each of which is coupled with a single image, we are going to compose an incomplete mosaic that reasserts the protean quality of the space and its relevance in contemporary society, including and equally importantly, as a space of exchange, dialogue and narration that is underlined in the format of the event.
A symposium organised by Naina Gupta.
Davide Deriu from the School of Architecture + Cities is one of the participants.
Corinna won second prize in the The Architecture Foundation’s new architectural writing prize. Entrants were invited to submit texts to one or more of three themed categories: Architecture and Representation, Writing as an Architectural Medium, and Design and the Climate and Biodiversity Emergencies.
The categories were respectively sponsored by Drawing Matter, the Jencks Foundation and the Marchus Trust. Corinna won in the Climate and Biodiversity category which will feature in an Architecture Foundation publication to be released in 2023.
This project uses pioneering cross-disciplinary methods to examine the adaptive reuse of cinemas in London as places of worship. In doing so, the research will capture a vital snapshot of faith and diaspora in the contemporary urban landscape, which may be used to inform future heritage practices.
Guest editor Nora N. Khan assembled a cast of luminaries to consider the far-reaching implications of AI and computational culture. Organised into thematic chapters on the limits of knowledge, myths of prediction, mapping beyond language, and the (in)explainability of abstract computational processes, Khan and contributors measure the gap between machine learning hypotheticals and the mess of lived experience. From virtual assistants in the living room to algorithmic sentencing in the courtroom, the collected essays, archival research, and artworks probe our problematic faith in and deference to AI.
Production: HOLO: Alexander Scholz, Filip Visnjic, Greg J. Smith // Art Direction & Design: zmyk, Oliver Griep & Jan Spading // Copy Editor: Andrew Wilmot
Green New Deal Landscapes is a podcast series on the Urban Next Platform hosted by Jose Alfredo Ramírez and Clara Olóriz Sanjuán who are co-directors of AA Groundlab. Each session discusses the relationship between policy making and our environment and explores how we can tackle climate change through landscape design. In session 2, Lindsay Bremner joins Alfredo to talk about new methodological procedures and narrative strategies in mapping the landscape to understand complex relationships within the Earth.
Associated with the planning model of ‘tactical urbanism’ and accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, ‘city street experiments’ or experimental changes in street use, regulation and/or form aimed at exploring aimed at exploring systemic change towards a ‘post-car’ city have become increasingly prominent. In the seminar, members of the EXTRA research project will present research on parklets and school streets in the London Boroughs of Lambeth and Redbridge. They will discuss preliminary results on how local people use, perceive and experience street changes.
K.Kamvasinou, G.Verdini, C.Dean, R.Kalra, and S.Cioboata have been selected to present their QHT-funded research, and prior work leading on to it in relation to Cody Dock, a post-industrial site of community-led regeneration, river revitalisation and social entreprise on the River Lea in East London, at the conference ‘Repurposing Places for Social and Environmental Resilience’ organised by Counterarchitecture,UEL and ARUP (23-24 March 2023).
Join us for the launch of Experiments with Body Agent Architecture, with a reading by the author, Dr Alessandro Ayuso.
Please RSVP through the link provided.
Davide Deriu has been invited to open the conference on ‘Made in Italy’ organised by the IR.IDE research infrastructure at the Iuav University of Venice. The event (in Italian) is the culmination of a 4-year project to which Davide previously contributed as Visiting Professor (2021-22).
The shortage of housing is an acute and pervasive problem in the contemporary city and young people are perhaps the most affected. Faced with housing that is either exorbitantly expensive or hopelessly inadequate, they are increasingly pushed out of urban centres, isolated and marginalised. To address this condition, PLP worked with the start-up Collective to develop a strategy for new and affordable ways of living predicated on high-density, communality and shared experience. Collective Old Oak, in West London was the first of this model to be built and, at the time, the world’s largest co-living building.
Journal of Historic Buildings and Places, Volume 01, 2022, 113-124
This essay is a consideration of the very sensitive issues around the restoration and extension to the iconic modern masterpiece by Mies van der Rohe, the Neue Nationalgalerie (NNG) on the Kulturforum in Berlin. The NNG is important for the City of Berlin, not least because it is the only building realised by Mies in Europe after his emigration to the USA. But the importance of the NNG goes further than that. It is an icon of the history of twentieth century art and architecture, embodying the ideals of cosmopolitan modernism.
Between 1946 and 1951 the London County Council promoted their post-war re-construction efforts through the organization of visitors’ tours to their ‘Out-County’ estates, run in conjunction with the Ministry of Health in response to a UN proposal to co-ordinate knowledge sharing on housing production. In this presentation Julian Williams examines the LCC records of these tours and the rich insights they offer into the development of the estate as a concept for organizing housing provision in London and beyond.