This is 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 department and to allow them to share their work and achievements with the wider academic and professional community.
Smith, A., Osborn, G. and Quinn, B. (Eds.) Festivals and the City: The Contested Geographies of Urban Events. London: University of Westminster Press. Pp. 1–15. London: University of Westminster Press.
This edited collection explores how festivals and events affect urban places and public spaces with a particular focus on their role in fostering inclusion. The book focuses on Western European cities and features 15 chapters written by 28 contributing authors and edited by Andrew Smith, Guy Osborn and Bernadette Quinn. There are chapters by some of the worlds’s leading festival experts (including a Chapter on Venice by John and Maggie Gold), as well as contributions from some of the best early career academics in the field. We’re proud that the work of several PhD students is featured too.
You can download the 308 page book for free by clicking on URL below.
At the conference, organised by the Raymond Williams Society to celebrate 100 years since the birth of socialist, cultural theorist and public intellectual Raymond Williams, Nick Beech presented a paper on the significance of William Morris in the formation of Williams’s thought. In ‘…no more than a kind of generalized swearing’: the positive valuation of William Morris by Raymond Williams’ Nick argues that ‘architecture’ – understood as a material cultural practice – illuminates Williams’s writings of the mid-1950s and early-1960s.
International conference ‘What’s Happening to Cultural Studies?’ is a three-day workshop designed to provide a focus for conversations about the shift in the role and capacities of cultural studies as an academic discipline in the twenty-first century. We stress the dual nature of the ‘discipline’: cultural studies is taught and cultural studies is researched. The relationship between these two aspects is one of the questions we hope this event will explore.
Enrica Papa, from the Transport and Mobilities Research Group, led the Transport Planning track and presented results of the EXTRA project to the Association of European School of Planning – AESOP Annual Conference in Tartu.
Journal of Sustainable Tourism https://doi.org/10.1080/09669582.2022.2108041
This article explores the intersect between the human right to water, the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the reality of hotels water use. Our qualitative study was based on semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and focus groups with hoteliers, government agencies and community stakeholders in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. It examines the challenges faced by hoteliers to respect the human right to water and why hotels do not voluntarily adopt the Guiding Principles. The impeding factors identified include a lack of awareness, a lack of substantive voluntary schemes, the water tariff, the absence of data management; return on investment, profit and
An exhibition on Climate Resilient and Healthy Cities was launched at Cody Dock in East London, 20 July, as a result of an interdisciplinary project funded by the Quintin Hogg Trust. Students from urban design, planning, psychology, law, worked together to produce accessible scientific material to a wider audience, and to facilitate community engagement, discussing the changing perception and new demands of green spaces among people after the pandemic. The research project was coordinated by Krystallia Kamvasinou, Giulio Verdini, and Ripin Kalra, with the contribution of Rachel Aldred and Corinna Dean, and research associate Sabina Cioboata.
Giulio Verdini presented his research work on Climate Studios in North Africa at the panel organised by GPEAN, Global Planning Education Association Network, and HABITAT UNI ‘From theory to practice. Universities contribute to the New Urban Agenda’, at WUF11, the UN-HABITAT World Urban Forum in Katowice, 30 June. His presentation highlighted how climate emergency can be a trigger to rethink planning paradigms, providing meanwhile a unique opportunity to co-develop new public narratives of inclusion, adaptation and resiliency with non-academic stakeholders. The panel was chaired by Raphaëlle Vignol, UN-HABITAT, with closing remarks from Bruce Stiftel, Georgia Tech University.
Strange finding out one has been given an award one did not apply for nor know one was nominated for, as a member of an organisation one retired from 16 years ago, in a powerpoint presentation sent as an attachment in an email by a friend!
Verdini, G. and Dean, C. 2022. Climate Urbanism in the Post-pandemic World: Mapping Vulnerabilities and Exploring Community Activism in East London. in: Giorgi, E., Cattaneo, T., Flores Herrera, A. M. and Aceves Tarango, V. (ed.) Design for Vulnerable Communities Cham. Springer. pp. 245-262.
This chapter proposes an approach to understand and map city social and environmental vulnerabilities, alongside bottom-up and emerging community experiences in response to the pandemic, with the aim to provide a critical understanding on whether the goal of designing climate resilient and socially inclusive post-pandemic neighbourhoods can be achievable. A framework of city resiliency based on the principles of climate urbanism is applied to the Lower Lea Valley in East London, in the context of studio pedagogy. This helps envision how to design post-pandemic sustainable climate actions, while critically taking into account the role of communities and other local actors.
Giulio Verdini coordinated a summer workshop in the Oasis town of Figuig in Morocco, near the border with Algeria, called ‘Figuig Climate Studio’, 31 May – 4 June, to explore scenarios of sustainability and resiliency with local people, linked to the impact of climate change on water provision, agriculture and liveability of the town. Students and staff from the University of Westminster, University of Wageningen, International University of Rabat, and National School of Architecture of Oujda attended. The workshop was promoted by ILAUD and My African Competition, and sponsored by the Municipality of Figuig, under the auspices of Union of the Mediterranean.
Kate Jordan (2022) Urban churches in an infrasecular landscape: three case studies from the Anglican Diocese of London, The Journal of Architecture, DOI: 10.1080/13602365.2022.2072933
Church architecture is an overlooked barometer of urban life. It holds up a unique mirror to economic models, demographics, cultural and ritual practices, and aesthetic movements in late modernity. In turn, the changing complexion of secular society has had a marked influence on the type and style of Christian architecture in the twenty-first century. This article explores the dialectical relationship between church architecture and secular society within recent critical frameworks, examining, in particular, the value of infrasecular geographies as an alternative to the post-secular lens.
This round table will gather a panel of early career researchers, practitioners and academics to discuss concerns around democracy, protest, public engagement and empowerment, social stratification and elitism. The speakers – Professor Marion Roberts, Professor Pippa Catterall, Nayyar Hussain, Minerva Fadel, Dr Kate Jordan and Dr Maja Jović (chaired by Dr Adam Eldridge) will discuss their experiences of working with marginalised social groups, negotiation of power, agency and identity globally, soft spacial practices and ephemeral heritage, and recording oral histories.
This LFA event is free but ticketed. Please book via Eventbrite (URL below).
Lindsay Bremner has been awarded a one-year, €150,000 European Research Council (ERC) Proof of Concept Grant for ‘Climate Cartographics,’ a project to test the societal and commercial potential of the cartographic techniques developed during the Monsoon Assemblages project. She and two research fellows will work with the Active Travel Academy, Southwark Borough Council, Trees for Cities, and Pelagian (a sub-sea cable company) to develop pilot cartographic products using visual sensemaking and visual story-telling techniques. On the basis of these pilots and further market research, a business case for offering the services more widely to different sectors will be developed.
Lindsay Bremner has been invited to participate in and give a plenary address at a workshop titled ‘Societal Aspects of Climate Change,’ organised by the Institute for Advanced Study at KU Leuven in Belgium, 24-25 May. The workshop aims to provide a basis for exchanging views with international scientists from various non-European countries on their cultural, political and economic development conditions and on the challenges that climate change poses to their societies.
We are pleased to share one of the outputs of our HERA funded FESTSPACE project which examines the ways festivals and events affect the inclusivity of London’s parks. In collaboration with a local film maker we have produced a 21 minute film that illustrates how festivals can contribute to, rather than detract from, the publicness of park settings. The film focuses on one event – Latino Life in the Park – which was staged in Finsbury Park, London, in August 2021.
Professor Christine Wall has been awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship (2022) (£21,730) for the project:
“If I had a hammer”: feminist activism and the built environment 1975-2000.
Using archive sources and oral history interviews, the project charts the origins and significance of key campaign groups which emerged during a period of optimism and dynamism in feminist, built environment activism. The research will document the working lives of many of the women who were involved, the policies they influenced, the the building work they completed and aims to situate and include feminist activism in the history of the twentieth century, built environment.
Cities are becoming increasingly affected by climate change while also being one of its major contributors. Since more sustainable and resilient design approach represents a key challenge for the near future, the Next-Generation built environment will most likely focus on regenerative design, adaptation rather than mitigation, and the ability to deal with uncertainty in both acute and chronic ecosystems and communities’ status. How to drive this transition? Which the key priorities and which the barriers?
Monsoon Assemblages will launch Monsoon as Method: Assembling Monsoonal Multiplicities (Actar 2022) online on 8 June, 13.00 – 14.30 (BST). Do join us to celebrate the publication of the book.
At the launch, Lindsay Bremner, Christina Geros, Harshavardhan Bhat, Anthony Powis and John Cook will be joined by Edd Wall, Alfredo Ramirez, Karen Coelho, Pamila Gupta and Jonathan Cane to discuss the book and its methods. To attend, register using the Eventbrite link provided.
The book puts forward the notion of body agents: non-ideal, animate, and highly specific figures integrated with design to enact particular notions of embodied subjectivity. Body agents present opportunities for architects to increase imaginative and empathic qualities in their designs, particularly amidst a posthuman condition. Structured around speculative historical fiction from the viewpoint of body agents, the book presents a fragmented history of the figure in architecture that informed the process of creating the multi-media design experiments, moving from the design of the body itself as an original prosthetic to architectural proposals emanating from the body.
Researchers from UoW Transport Research Group will present their work at the RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2022, which will take place at Newcastle University from 30 August to 2 September 2022. Ersilia Verlinghieri, Asa Thomas, and Rachel Aldred organised a session titled’Road-reallocations and social infrastructures: Debating the social in car-centric cities’. Emilia Smeds organised a session titled ‘What is the street for? Interrogating ‘ways of seeing’ and the epistemic justice of reconfiguring street space. Papers by Enrica Papa, Emilia Smeds and Asa Thomas will be presented. The Conference regularly attracts over 2,000 geographers from around the world.
Ex-TRA JPI Urban project has been included in a UKRI blog for Earth Day highlighting some of the great research and innovation projects that ESRC funded that are tackling climate change. The blog piece can be found on Medium via Url link below.
Pete Silver, Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Cities has been awarded a patent from the UK’s Intellectual property Office for his design for a helical structural framework. Hopefully, we shall be able to prototype and construct this at a large scale on campus.
Davide Deriu will give a lecture at the Addressing Dizziness symposium which takes place at the University of Applied Arts, Vienna, on 4-6 May, 2022. This process-oriented working symposium aims to discuss ways of localizing, recognizing, approaching, and countering dizziness at different scales and disciplines. Through the prisms of art, architecture, philosophy, somatics, post-colonial theory and remembrance cultures, the event aims to uncover various layers of physical and social dizziness. Curated by Ruth Anderwald + Leonhard Grond, artist-researchers and professors at the Zentrum Fokus Forschung, University of Applied Arts.
Professor Sean Griffiths will present a paper, ‘Act without Agency,Production without Purpose, Competence without Comprehension’ at this year’s Royal Academy Architecture Symposium on Tuesday 7th of June 2022.
Based on almost 10 years of applied research by Paolo Cascone between Europe and Africa, his work investigates the potential role of indigenous and spontaneous architecture in the contemporary debate on sustainability in architectural design: How to respond to climatic changes reconciling nature with tekné? What is the social role of technology? How architects reconsider their practices in supporting community-oriented projects?
These questions are discussed through a number of paradigmatic projects in order to shape an interdisciplinary approach that bridges different knowledge.
The launch of Michael Neuman’s book Sustainable Infrastructure for Cities and Societies on Marylebone Campus and online.
Zoom link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/88352581921?pwd=ZHZlQWVUYjlab01hQ3FXV0hKZ05pUT09
Meeting ID: 883 5258 1921
Citation (publication only):
This is the first in a series of Incomplete Works documenting the practice of Doctor Watson Architects. These architects have recoiled from the methods of architectural design to invent a new form of material practice known generically as Air Grid.
Luz Navarro has been awarded a £4,822 grant from the UKRI Participatory Research Fund, via an internal call of the UoW. Expanding on previous participatory research funded by the QHT, the project will explore the experiences of BAME women cycling within different types of urban environments and cycling infrastructures. The project is co-organised with JoyRiders – a BAME women cycling organisation– and will articulate through a series of participatory design-research workshops in four different locations in London. The participatory nature of the research places women as experts of their environments and their own needs and aspirations regarding cycling
Enrica Papa and Emilia Smeds were successful in securing a £4588 grant from the UKRI Participatory Research Fund, via an internal UoW call. This expands the participatory research activities and Equality, Diversity & Inclusion of the EX-TRA project led by Enrica Papa (Experimenting with City Streets to Transform Urban Mobility). Recent parklets and School Streets will be discussed through a community-led approach. It is an interdisciplinary collaboration between transport planning, architect colleagues and social sciences colleagues. Co-I: Ipshita Basu, Maria Kramer
Emilia Smeds was awarded £4990 in seed-funding by the British Academy following the Knowledge Frontiers Symposium on ‘What is a Good City?’. Together with Canadian and UK scholars, Emilia will be leading an interdisciplinary exploration of ‘ways of seeing’ public space with an emphasis on non-expert perspectives. This expands the EX-TRA project’s agenda on street space experimentation, tactical urbanism and social justice. The collaboration will kick off with a panel discussion at the RGS-IBG 2022 conference in Newcastle, September 2022. PI: Emilia Smeds, Co-I: Kevin Manaugh (McGill University), James Connolly (University of British Columbia), Matthew Wargent (Cardiff University)
Lindsay Bremner and an interdisciplinary and intersectoral team of researchers from India, the UK and Canada have been awarded a British Council Knowledge Frontiers: International interdisciplinary Research 2022 grant for a two-year project titled ‘Reimagining the Good City from Ennore Creek, Chennai.’
Ennore Creek is a coastal wetland and backwater of the Kosasthalaiyar River in north Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. Rich with mangroves, salt flats, canals and the myriad life-forms that thrive in them, it is home to numerous fishing communities and serves as a buffer against floods and sea level rise. After the 1950s, when Chennai began associating the idea of the ‘Good City’ with industrialisation and modernisation, Ennore was rezoned for heavy polluting industries. Land-use changes and lax environmental controls resulted in pollution, coal ash leakage and dumping of toxic material into the creek, degrading its ecosystem and impacting the health and livelihoods of its communities. This project will bring together diverse communities of knowledge and practice to reimagine and rearticulate the future of the creek in the interests of local communities, in the context of permanent weather extremes, climate challenges and a state-led creek eco-restoration proposal.
Co-investigators on the project, which will run from April 2022 – April 2024 are historians Dr Bhavani Raman (University of Toronto), and Dr Aditya Ramesh (University of Manchester); anthropologist Dr Karen Coelho (Madras Institute of Development Studies); environmental chemist Dr Asif Qureshi (Indian Institute of Technology, Hyderabad); community activist and writer Nityanand Jayaraman and K. Saravan and Pooja Kumar (Coastal Resource Centre, Chennai).
This research is supported/funded by the British Academy’s Knowledge Frontiers: International Interdisciplinary research 2022 Programme.
Image: Ennore Creek with the North Chennai Thermal Power Station in the background. Photograph: Shafeeq Ahamed S, Age 17, 2022.
Senior Lecturer in tourism at the University of Westminster, dr Stroma Cole, will be a keynote speaker at the ATLAS Annual Conference 2022. The conference will take place in Cork, Republic of Ireland from 6th to 9th of September 2022.
The AHRA Research Student Symposium 2022, “Voices in Architecture”, considers voices in architectural research, posing the critical questions: who speaks and for whom? How do we give voice without assuming authority? How do we listen without judgment? How do we adjust the volume of our own voices? A key objective of the symposium will be to connect architectural research with wider political concerns around democracy, protest and populism and we are particularly attentive to processes of public engagement and empowerment, social stratification and elitism. The symposium also seeks to investigate diverse modes of production and their social worlds, explorations of vernacular traditions, informal settlements, transient and temporary architectures.
Congratulations to our Active Travel Academy colleagues who have been awarded a new £70,000 grant by Impact on Urban Health for the project Cargo bike operators: employment practices. The project will use interviews and focus groups with riders and operators to identify ways to maximise health and wellbeing for sector workers whilst supporting upscaling of cargo bikes operators. The study’s outputs will support local and national stakeholders in ensuring that increased cargo bike deliveries in the UK create good, green jobs that provide job security, a living wage and a safe and inclusive environment for workers. The study will involve partners from Sustrans and MP Smarter Travel.
The ‘Emerging Territories’ Research Group will host a one-day symposium on current research initiatives in the School of Architecture and Cities, at the interface between London-based explorative practices, and globally-relevant projects.
Join us for a celebratory event, marking 50 (+) years of the Transport Studies Group (TSG) at Marylebone, reflecting on teaching and research, past, present and future. The event will comprise two distinct segments, the first being an afternoon session with speakers on past development, and current roles, of teaching and research in the Group, together with contributions from alumni who have attained important positions in the transport sector. This will be followed in the evening by an informal reception for past staff colleagues and alumni.
Planetary Assemblages brings together the work of Monsoon Assemblages and the Manifest Data Lab to visualise geophysical and atmospheric data as ways of making climate change perceptible and public. Through drawings, maps, animations and models saturated with data from multiple sources, it proposes a critical engagement with the power of art and design to explore connections with the climate crisis and to motivate awareness of the material, social and cultural ways we are implicated in it.
The University of Westminster and Lund Humphries are delighted to celebrate the launch of Revolution? Architecture and the Anthropocene, a new book by Susannah Hagan hat asks why architecture has lagged behind the environmental curve for the last fifty years. Susannah Hagan will be in conversation with Harry Charrington, University of Westminster; Brian Ford, University of Nottingham; Ricardo de Ostos, NaJa & deOstos and the AA School of Architecture, Marie Braithwaite and Lindsay Bremner, University of Westminster.
The project is initiated by the Emerging Territories Research Group: Krystallia Kamvasinou and Giulio Verdini (Co-Convenors), and Ripin Kalra (Member). We capitalise on previous projects on green space in London and the Covid19 health emergency, and climate urbanism and resilience. Cross-disciplinary co-investigators are: Rachel Aldred (Transport), Nina Smyth (Psychology), Linda Percy (Biological Sciences), Corinna Dean (Architecture).
The exhibition Falling Away brings together Catherine Yass’s vertiginous film installations at Ambika P3. The first retrospective of the artist’s extensive body of film work, it spans the past two decades and includes a new work made in response to the impact of COVID-19 and global warming. Ambika P3’s vast subterranean space engages audiences in the disorientating effects of Yass’s films, which portray architecture in a state of construction, abandonment or demolition. By engaging with our perception of verticality, these works address the relationship between material structures and the powers and institutions that embody them.
The opening of Monsoonal Multiplicities, the online exhibition by the European Research Council funded project, Monsoon Assemblages. Speakers were historian Sunil Amrith, author of Unruly Waters: How Mountain Rivers and Monsoons have Shaped South Asia’s History and landscape architect Dilip da Cunha, author of The Invention of Rivers: Alexander’s Eye and Ganga’s Descent.
In Nick Axel, Nikolaus Hirsch, Daniel Barber and Anton Vidokle eds. Accumulation: The Art, Architecture and Media of Climate Change, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2022.
In Yangon, Myanmar, displays of conspicuous wealth adorn high-end real estate developments located at strategic downtown intersections and clustered around the city’s famous Kandawgyi and Inya lakes. Research in 2019 exposed the links between much of this high-end real estate and jade extraction in northern Kachen State. The chapter analyses these relations.