Videos

Here is a collection of some of our discussions and debates:

Post Coronavirus What is a city for?

The death of the city has been predicted for decades: from the rise of the out-of-town shopping centre to the rise of suburbia; from Marshall McLuhan’s edict that “the city no longer exists except as a cultural ghost for tourists” to Mary Portas’ resuscitation of the High Street ten years ago. The death of the city, it seems, has been greatly exaggerated… until now. As a result of the coronavirus lockdown, entire city centres have become deserts and the easing of lockdown doesn’t seem to have noticeably improved matters much.
Cities – what we once considered to be the most efficient form of social organisation for the production of value and the locus of cultural excellence – seem to have been given up without a fight. Some commentators want to liberalise planning policies so that empty buildings can be commandeered for other purposes, like turning offices into apartments or hostels; others want greater regulation to ensure that decent accommodation isn’t compromised in a neo-liberal free-for-all? So is the answer in policy reform, a return to business-as-usual, or can we use this opportunity to envision what a great city should be?

Speakers:
Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, California; Vicky Richardson, co-founder Lantao UK Fellowship; former, director of Architecture, Design and Fashion, British Council; Martin Powell, Global Head of Urban Development at Siemens; Dr Sylvia Chan, Research Editor at OMA, Rotterdam. Tim Abrahams, architecture critic with the Architectural Record and Consultant Editor, Domus.

Cancelling the Past: Statues, public space and democracy

The toppling of the statue of Edward Colston by Black Lives Matter protesters was described as “an act of frustration” by those who found his presence offensive. That symbolic act has had huge repercussions across the country and beyond. Council’s across the country are carrying out “anti-racist audits” of all their statues, buildings, and street names with a link to the slave trade and colonialism. But does removing statues kickstart a new era of history, or does it merely erase valuable lessons from the past?
This event asks: What are the histories that we are allowed to celebrate? How universal are our historical memories? What history is permissible and what future do we want to create? Why should we commemorate the past anyway?

Speakers:
Patrick Vernon, social commentator; founder, 100 Great Black Britons; creator, ‘Every Generation Game: Windrush Edition’. Ike Ijeh, architect; critic, Building magazine; director, London Architecture Works; Prof Pippa Caterall, professor of History and Politics, Westminster University; Chair of the George Lansbury Memorial Trust and founder, National Identities journal; Pauline Hadaway, arts and heritage consultant, University of Manchester; co-founder, The Liverpool Salon; former director, Belfast Exposed Photography

The City After Lockdown

Cities are gradually coming back to life after the pandemic, with more people returning to work, commercial premises opening up, and parks and urban spaces becoming lively again. But will it ever be the same as before? Do we want it to be? Professor Brian Cox hopes that the coronavirus lockdown will open people’s eyes to “a future of less pollution and more wildlife”. Conversely, Peter Hitchens observing London’s deserted streets adds: “I am in a busy city (but) the silence is as alarming to me as a fire bell in the night”.
Cities have long needed a radical rethink and now is the time. What should the city after lockdown look like?
June 2020

Speakers:
Daniel Moylan, Co-Chairman, Urban Design London; Adam N. Mayer, Architect at Handel Architects [speaking from San Francisco, California]; Laura Iloniemi, is a specialist in architectural PR and teaches media relations at the Architectural Association in London; Kevin McCullagh, founder of product strategy consultancy, Plan.

Public Space: Who and what is it for?

This debate will assess whether public space refers to places where we have the right to do anything we want, and whether common access = good public space? But we will also focus on whether we can reinvent an egalitarian city through rethinking civil engagement in the public arena.
March 2015

Speakers:
Anna Minton, author, “Ground Control“; visiting professor, University of East London; Deborah Saunt, founder, award-winning architectural studio, DSDHA; Jack Self, Reviews Editor, Architectural Review; Claire Mookerjee, Project Manager, Future Cities Catapult; previously Design Researcher, Gehl Architects; Alastair Donald, British Council Project Director, British Pavilion, Venice Architecture Biennale; Chair: Michael Owens, Commercial Director, Bow Arts Trust; owner of London Urban Visits

Resilience: Is Crisis the New Normal?

What kind of mind-set does the infatuation with resilience generate?
What kind of city does fear of the future create?
June 2015

Speakers:
Irena Bauman, professor of Sustainable Urbanism at Sheffield University; Robin Nicholson, senior partner, Cullinan Studio; Christine Murray, editor, The Architectural Review; Austin Williams, associate professor of Architecture, XJTLU university, China; Martyn Perks, Co-author, Big Potatoes

Bookshop Barnie Xmas Bash on film

At last, captured on film, the alcohol fueled literary romp that is the Xmas Barnie.

2015’s contestants:
Graham Stringer MP (member, Science & Technology Select Committee) on Nigel Lawson’s An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming;
Michael Shaw (programme director, TES) on Houlston’s Enquire Within Upon Everything;
Alan Hudson (director, Leadership Programmes for China, Oxford University) on Melville’s Moby Dick;
Annie Warburton, Creative Programmes Director, Crafts Council on Homer’s The Odyssey
Paul Morley (TV critic) on Nabokov’s Pale Fire;

The Social Life of Chinese Small Urban Spaces

William H Whyte’s much loved, oft-quoted urban exploration is in need of an update. This film, shot in China, shows that maybe we should question some of these 35-year old mantras – rather than following them blindly. (A film by ChinaCommentary)

mantownhuman CRITICAL SUBJECTS SUMMER SCHOOL PROGRAMMES

Click on the title below to be taken to that video…
EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN
PARAMETRICISM: STYLE OR SUBSTANCE
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE VS HUMANS
WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE AVANT GARDE?
WHAT’S MODERN ABOUT MODERN ARCHITECTURE?
CRITICS TAKE CRITICISM
THE RETURN OF CRAFTSMANSHIP
THE GLOBAL 10 BILLION: IS IT SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE?
REVIEWING THE FARRELL REVIEW
MASTERPLANNING THE FUTURE
SOCIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY: THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE
IS THERE SUCH A THING AS THE PUBLIC REALM?
PHOTOGRAPHY & REPRESENTATION
WHEN IS ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURE?
WHAT IS JOURNALISM?
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PREFABS?
WHAT IS NATURE?
EDUCATION V SKILL
WHAT IS ARCHITECTURE FOR?
INTERNSHIPS: Exploitation or necessity?

Other shorts


EVIDENCE-BASED DESIGN
Do architects rely too much on research (and junk science) to justify their work?


PARAMETRICISM: STYLE OR SUBSTANCE
Is Parametricism shape-making or ground-breaking?


ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE VS HUMANS
How we can make the case for human agency.


WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
Criticism is about open debate; discussion as a means of testing out ideas.


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE AVANT GARDE?
Where’s the great radicalising discourse today? Do we need one?


WHAT’S MODERN ABOUT MODERN ARCHITECTURE?
Is “modern architecture”: a software package, an ironic term, a dated concept or a positive aspiration?


CRITICS TAKE CRITICISM
Do we need journalists when many of us have access to the web and can make up our own minds?


THE RETURN OF CRAFTSMANSHIP
Is anything different between a slowly produced, hand-crafted product, and a machine-made version?


THE GLOBAL 10 BILLION: IS IT SOMETHING TO CELEBRATE?
A la Malthus, does humanity’s survival depend on us reducing our consumption?


REVIEWING THE FARRELL REVIEW
Do we need such a formal architecture policy?


MASTERPLANNING THE FUTURE
Is master-planning and thinking big, at odds with contemporary Western attitudes.


SOCIAL IRRESPONSIBILITY: THINKING THE UNTHINKABLE
Should architects play politics… or is this exactly what architects do anyway?


IS THERE SUCH A THING AS THE PUBLIC REALM?
Do people have an automatic right to act as they want to in public space?


PHOTOGRAPHY & REPRESENTATION
Can you portray events impartially? Should you?


WHEN IS ENGINEERING, ARCHITECTURE?
Is unexpressed structure engineeringly clever, or architecturally deceitful?


WHAT IS JOURNALISM?
Prof George Brock says journalism is “the systematic effort to establish the truth of what matters to society.”


WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PREFABS?
How can we provide lots of good quality housing quickly and efficiently?


WHAT IS NATURE?
Are we part of nature, or separate from it?


EDUCATION V SKILL
Are universities simply churning out employable graduates? Is that bad?


WHAT IS ARCHITECTURE FOR?
In a recession, is architecture an “expendable” commodity or is it essential?


INTERNSHIPS: Exploitation or necessity?
Why has the issue of internships become such a hot political issue?


Wang Shu’s Wenzheng Library in China, 1999


Stephen Holl with Lebbeus Woods, Spliced Porosity”, Chengdu, China


Skew Collaborative, www.skewcollaborative.com