Dr Ambrose Gillick is Principal Investigator for British Academy funded research project

BA (Hons) Architecture Stage 3 Coordinator, Dr Ambrose Gillick, is Principal Investigator for a successful British Academy funded research project titled, ‘British Academy Special Research Grants: Covid-19 – ‘Making-Unmaking-Remaking Home in Lockdown Margate. Co-investigators of the project are Professor Helen Carr (Kent Law School) and Professor Karen Jones (School of History). The research project will run from July 2020 until October 2021.

Dr Gillick writes, “Set in Dalby Square and Gardens, Margate, a vulnerable community disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, this project explores and maps home as process and network in a COVID 19 context using a transdisciplinary methodology drawing on law, history, architecture, health and housing studies. In this project home is understood as simultaneously bounded and networked, a space and a set of processes and relationships. We utilise the focus on home networking and home making-unmaking-remaking that has been the inevitable consequence of ‘lockdown’ to unpack the taken-for-granted understanding of home as a safe haven and explore issues around social and environmental regulation, inequalities, marginalization, vulnerability and dislocation as they have been intensified by COVID-19. We situate these in, somewhat paradoxical, historical understandings of Margate as a ‘haven of health’, and develop a toolkit for a rich and productive understanding of contemporary home making, unmaking and remaking during a global pandemic.”

Dr Manolo Guerci to present at Giancarlo De Carlo GDC100 ‘Resonances’ Seminar

Senior Lecturer, Dr Manolo Guerci will be presenting at the upcoming Giancarlo De Carlo GDC100 ‘Resonances’ Seminar taking place on Thursday 16 July at 15.30 BST.

The ‘Resonances’ seminar aims to share ideas and comments on the wide selection of texts by Giancarlo De Carlo proposed in the marathon. The texts are a source and a guide to an extraordinary methodology of reading the place as a fundamental starting point for the design project. A panel of speakers from British universities involved in the marathon will open the discussion to invite all the readers and interested students to propose their thoughts and add new keywords.

Dr Manolo Guerci writes, “The conversation will be on Giancarlo De Carlo and his relationship with the Renaissance, particularly with Francesco di Giorgio Martini. It will focus on an essay De Carlo wrote in 1985 on the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino titled: Gli Spiriti del Palazzo Ducale (the ghosts of the Palazzo Ducale in Urbino). One of the masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance at the hearth of Federico da Montefeltro’s patronage, the Palazzo Ducale has long been a subject of fascination for me. As well as the workshop of leading architect-engineers such as Di Giorgio Martini, the palace is also known as the setting of the conversations which Baldassare Castiglione represents as having taken place in the Hall of Vigils in 1507 in his celebrated Book of the Courtier. De Carlo’s essay provides interesting insights.”

If you would like to attend, please use the following link via Zoom:

https://zoom.us/j/93837326233
Password: 685110

You can also keep up to date with Giancarlo De Carlo GDC100 on Instagram.

Dr Ben Tosland publishes book review in EAHN Journal Architectural Histories

Recently completed PhD student, Ben Tosland, has published a review in the EAHN journal Architecture Histories on Łukas Stanek’s new book Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War (2020). The book, as the title suggests, studies the exploration of architects from Eastern Europe in the global south making an important contribution to the studies of architecture history and socialist internationalism. The book is generously laden with previously unpublished images complementing Stanek’s illuminating text, doubling up as a serious piece of original research and attractive object for any architect or historian’s bookshelf.

Architectural Histories is the international, blind peer-reviewed scholarly journal of the EAHN that creates a space where historically grounded research into all aspects of architecture and the built environment can be made public, consulted, and discussed.

More of Ben’s work can be seen in our End of Year Show 2020.

Find out more about Architectural Conservation in Kent and Beyond

Kent School of Architecture and Planning are pleased to announce that we are hosting an online event for you to find out more about the world of Architectural Conservation with Programme Director, Dr Nikolaos Karydis, Senior Lecturer, Dr Manolo Guerci, and PhD student, Anske Bax on Tuesday 30 June at 14.00.

Never has it been so important to have the right skill sets and experience in the job market, now more than ever is the time to invest in higher education to better your chances. The MSc Architectural Conservation provides an invaluable process in delivering a theoretical knowledge to Heritage Conservation, and perhaps even more rewarding is the on-site experience within the modules. Participation with conservation professionals and organisations, provide a unique opportunity of seeing the multiple sectors of conservation practice, helping you to decide the right direction for a truly exciting and rewarding career.

2:00 – 2:30. ‘Recapturing Lost Architectural Heritage’, lecture by Dr Nikolaos Karydis

This lecture presents recent research in the visualisation of historic buildings in Turkey, Italy and the UK. It also shows how this research informs our teaching in the MSc programme in Architectural Conservation and presents recent student proposals for the repair and reuse of historic buildings in Kent.

2:30 – 3:00. ‘Studying Conservation in Kent’,  Anske Bax and Nikolaos Karydis

MSc in Architectural Conservation alumnus Anske Bax discusses with Nikolaos Karydis, the programme director, about his experience of studying architectural conservation and the way in which his postgraduate course prepared him for his current doctoral research in the University of Kent.

3.00 – 3.30. ‘Why do we preserve and why does it matter?’, Dr Manolo Guerci

This lecture asks a fundamental question when it comes to our understanding of the very complex factors that govern decisions on how we deal with our heritage. In particular, the lecture will highlight what is perhaps the main issue: how we manage a balance between those categories which naturally make a building worth preserving and those (many) controversial instances, across all periods. For, whilst regulations do exist – and vary according to different contexts, their interpretations depend on many factors (political, historical, cultural, economic, etc.). The module is therefore concerned with the historical and cultural aspects behind this complex scenario, so as to provide with an appropriate background for the choices that need to be made when approaching conservation.

If you’d like to attend this free online event taking place on Zoom, email ksapadmissions@kent.ac.uk to book your place.

Howard Griffin takes part in Creative Folkestone and South East Creatives’ Tech Week

MA Architectural Visualisation programme director, Howard Griffin, alongside Paul Simms and Fabrice Bourrelly, will be presenting at Tech Week, organised by South East Creatives and Creative Folkestone with their talk titled, ‘Designing architecture in a virtual space’ on Tuesday 16 June at 10.00am BST.

This talk will look at how gaming technology changes the way we think about design. In this discussion, Paul, Fabrice and Howard will explore the ways (Architectural) design is going through significant changes as 3D, VR and gaming technologies are maturing and becoming increasingly adopted across industries such as automotive, aviation and fashion whilst becoming affordable.

All talks will be live-streamed via the Creative Folkestone Facebook page; they are also inviting up to 10 people to join in the room via Zoom to take part in the live Q&A element. Places are limited so book your place.

PhD Student Anske Bax takes part in Online Reading Marathon

GIANCARLO DE CARLO AT 100 – Online Reading Marathon participation with Kent University and the Kent School of Architecture & Planning.  

By Anske Bax

What is it?

A public marathon of reading and visiting the works of Italian architect Giancarlo De Carlo. Promoted on social media through Instagram among the initiatives by the Committee for the Centennial of Giancarlo De Carlo. The reading marathon organised by Professor Antonello Alici of the University of Politecnica delle Marche, is entrusted to students and housed in De Carlo’s places and architectures in Italy and abroad. The two-years long programme promotes a research network of schools and institutions; inviting master and doctoral students to participate in a marathon of re-reading and re-visiting the writings and projects by Giancarlo De Carlo. The four-minute readings seek to encourage research seminars and symposia. Kent School of Architecture was one of the international institutions to have participated in the readings on the 2nd May 2020.

Who was Giancarlo de Carlo?

Giancarlo De Carlo (12 December 1919 − 4 June 2005) is a major figure in the architectural debate and practice of the 20th century for his capacity of reading contexts and exploring the tensions of the city. He built his first theoretical steps on William Morris and Patrick Geddes and revived the legacy of Giuseppe Pagano and Edoardo Persico. In 1993 he was awarded the RIBA Gold Medal, following the suggestion of Colin St John Wilson, who praised him as ‘the Master of Resistance’ and  ‘the most lucid of his generation of architect-philosophers-in-action’ – for his tireless critical action within the Modern Movement.

University of Kent’s involvement and perspective

International collaboration and wider project participation are very much the norm at the Kent School of Architecture and Planning. A mindset that I noticed almost immediately upon joining the school as a doctoral student. These proud collaborations including the marathon reading for Giancarlo De Carlo harness a wider academic unity and through peer involvement encourages one to open one’s mind in architectural theory. These projects are thanks to the wonderful staff of our department, including my experience made possible by the kind efforts of Dr Manolo Guerci and fellow PhD colleague, Benedetta Castagna.  It was a true honour to be asked to read an extract (Reading 7.1) by Giancarlo De Carlo about the work of Le Corbusier. The Swiss born architect who De Carlo identified as someone who was able to create a defined architectural language, but at some point, it lost connection with the reality of the contexts. A clear statement of De Carlo’s conception about the Modern Movement. My reading is one of many enlightening texts on the Instagram page. I would encourage anyone to participate in this two-year project by emailing myself or Benedetta Castagna.

 

Howard Griffin organises online conference as part of Architecture Media Politics Society

Howard Griffin, a member of the Centre for Research in European Architecture (CREAte) and the Digital Architecture Research Centre (DARC) has organised a conference called Connections: Exploring Heritage, Architecture, Cities, Art, Media and is part of the Architecture Media Politics Society (AMPS) research organisation’s series of major international conferences. AMPS sees the definition, debates and concerns of the built environment as intrinsic to those at the heart of other social, cultural and political discourses. Its focus is cross disciplinary and draws on the media, politics and the social sciences. It invites participation from all sectors: architects, planners, policy makers, artists, academics, the public and community activists. It functions as an open access platform for publication, a forum for debate through conferences and workshop, a conduit for book publications.

The conference, which will be hosted online on the 29 – 30 June 2020, notes that, particularly in recent months, the ‘digital’ is ubiquitous across all disciplines connected with life in cities: urban history, architecture, planning, art, design, media, communications, and more. As the tools we use today merge and blur across disciplines, this conferences asks educators and professionals to consider the following. How can we best manage, direct and utilise the unique potentialities of this interdisciplinary and technological moment? Are we rethinking objects of art and design from the past and future? Are we reconsidering modes of communication, styles of teaching and ways of living? Are we seeing new links between designed objects, visualised spaces and cultural meanings? Are we understanding creative, documentary and media practices in new ways? Are we developing our own knowledge through the technologies, tools or thinking of other disciplines?

A number of staff and students at the University of Kent will be presenting papers. Howard Griffin will be presenting about his virtual reality project, created with MA Architectural Visualisation students in his paper, The Future of the Past: Reconstructing St Augustine’s Abbey, Canterbury.  Head of School, Professor Gerald Adler will present his paper titled, ‘Script, Nondescript’, Professor Gordana Fontana Giusti will present her paper titled, ‘Designing Public Spaces to Empower Citizens: Reversing the Subject / Object Relation in Smart Cities’, and PhD student, Rafaella Siagkri will be presenting her paper titled, ‘Understanding and Preserving Cultural Heritage in Expressionist Architecture Using Virtual Reality.’

MSc Architectural Conservation student, Asma Haddouk, shares her experience of studying at University of Kent

MSc Architectural Conservation student, Asma Haddouk, shares her experience of studying the conservation of historic buildings at the University of Kent over on the MSc Architectural Conservation blog with her post titled, ‘Thoughts from a Medieval Chapel – Studying Architectural Conservation at Kent‘.

The MSc in Architectural Conservation is fully recognised by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC). The course provides both a thorough understanding of architectural heritage and the skills required to contribute to the preservation and development of historic sites. Benefiting from its location in the historic city of Canterbury, the programme combines the study of conservation theory and philosophy with an exploration of the technical aspects of repair and reconstruction. The city’s stunning cathedral provides students with an education resource, giving them the opportunity to learn from the conservation of a World Heritage Site.

 

Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti interviewed by TRT World on life of Vittorio Gregotti

Professor of Architecture and Urban Regeneration, Gordana Fontana-Giusti, was recently interviewed for a second time by Turkish television channel, TRT World as part of their flagship arts and culture programme, ‘Showcase’ on 4 May.

The episode titled, ‘Obituaries during the pandemic’ invited Professor Fontana-Giusti to discuss the life and work of renowned Italian architect and urban designer, Vittorio Gregotti, who sadly passed away of Covid-19 on 15 March in Milan. The interview discusses Vittorio Gregotti’s role in establishing architecture as a key art form and his life’s work including his work on industrialisation and the organisation of the Milan Triennale in the 1960s.

Watch the full interview online now. Professor Gordana Fontana-Giusti’s segment begins at 7m 50s.

COVID-19 Pandemic: A Plea for Pro-Active Urban Planning by Urban Planner, John Letherland

Today we are living in an unprecedented state of uncertainty, in the midst of a viral attack on humankind that is having profound effect on our health and our urban way of life. While it may be the most immediately severe, the COVID-19 pandemic is the not the only crisis causing us to question the way we coexist and our relationship with the world, affected as we are by climate change and the erosion of our eco-system, conflict, religious persecution, displacement of communities and the ever-rising gap between the rich and poor.

As an urban species, growth and quality of human habitat are some of the biggest issues we face today. In the context of the largest wave of urbanisation in human history, for the first time more than half the world’s population lives in cities. Sadly, this isn’t the first global pandemic we have had to face, and probably not the last; it is the proximity within which we live our lives that is one of the main reasons why the virus has been so successful in taking hold.

Cities have played a critical part in human development for almost 10,000 years and they continue to grow in importance as the primary form of human habitation. By 2050, the UN predicts there will be 9 billion humans and that two thirds will live in cities. As the global population continues to grow unabated, the urgent need for space and resources places us in competition with our environment as well as our fellow humans. Paradoxically, it is generally accepted that high-density living is the most efficient way for people to live with lowest carbon footprint, where infrastructure and transport networks can be effective and run efficiently.

Europeans have for thousands of years been living in densely populated societies, where infectious epidemic diseases (such as smallpox, bubonic plague, cholera, etc) have been the major cause of death. But, when we take as an example the violent outbreak of cholera in London in 1854 and the waves of bubonic plague that hit London in 17th century (killing an estimated 100,000 people), it is clear that the rapid spread of disease was symptomatic of a wider malaise – massive unplanned growth in population that the infrastructure couldn’t cope with.

‘…London in 1854 was a Victorian metropolis trying to make do with an Elizabethan public infrastructure.’

– Steven Johnson: The Ghost Map

The current COVID-19 pandemic must therefore be seen in a broader historical context and recognised as a symptom, not the cause, of a wider global problem – a huge explosion of growth in our urban population that, like the earlier lessons in time, has not been adequately learned and planned for. It is easy to be wise after the event, but contagious diseases are more predictable in our high-density urban centres, particularly in the context of expanding urban populations. Surviving and recovering well from pandemics like COVID-19 will therefore depend upon creating healthier cities. So, is it possible to turn this crisis into an opportunity for good urban place-making and the benefits this can bring us?

Now, more than ever, is perhaps the moment to think about what can be done to make our cities healthier. Cities are irrational organisms with a unique character and life of their own; like any organism they need to be fed and nurtured, their waste removed and their arteries kept clear to enable them to evolve and grow healthily. This includes providing them with breathing spaces – the parks, gardens and green spaces – where people can relax in open space, enjoy nature, breathe fresh air and exercise within the context of social distancing.

Large urban populations mean that fewer people have access to open space and nature, and cities like London, New York and Madrid have suffered more than most from the COVID-19 infection. However, living in high densities does not automatically equate to living in insanitary or under-privileged conditions. Evidence suggests that some of the highest density boroughs in London, for example, are also those in which residents enjoy the best health and the highest life expectancy. There is a direct correlation between these areas and the location of some of London’s largest and most treasured open green spaces. After the crisis has abated, there will be many things we need to do to set things straight; perhaps amongst these we could make our cities of tomorrow more liveable and resilient by making them greener and healthier.

This may sound like a solution more suited to the planning of new cities, but history shows us that we can adapt and retrofit our existing cities successfully, often on a grand scale. As Jack Shenker points out in his recent Guardian article of 26 March 2020 (Cities after coronavirus: how Covid-19 could radically alter urban life), the splendour of the Victoria embankment resulted directly from the construction of Joseph Bazalgette’s innovative sewerage system in direct response to the 1850’s cholera outbreak in London. Around the same time, Louis Napoleon and Baron Haussmann were in the process of transforming the congested and disease-infested inner-city slums of Paris into a network of beaux-arts style, tree-lined boulevards that would ease congestion, improve living standards, generate prosperity, eradicate cholera and in due course create a city that continues to captivate the world.

In the UK, London has its unique network of Royal Parks, green spaces and garden squares, and urban expansion in the Georgian and Victorian eras was planned around them. As a direct descendent of this tradition, the city has made a commitment to transform itself into the world’s first city-based ‘National Park City’ – aimed at coordinating and linking existing green spaces to make the city’s greener, healthier and wilder outdoor space more publicly accessible.

Similarly, Boston in the US benefits from the vision of Frederick Law Olmsted, who built an entire park system for the city in the 1870’s known as the ‘Emerald Necklace’. This investment in green infrastructure is a wonderful seven-mile-long network of parks, meadows, marshlands, and pathways that winds through the city and provides a sanctuary from the clamour and grit of urban life. Boston continues to lead the world in city planning with its more recentResilient Harbour Project’, a series of elevated green landscapes, pathways and protective parks along its 47-mile low-lying shoreline to better protect the area from flooding and increase public access to the waterfront.

Other global cities are also leading the way in investment in ‘green infrastructure’, many conceived in response to the climate crisis and yet all providing inspiration for how to make our cities more liveable, resilient and healthy in the context of the current pandemic. China is designing 16 ‘Sponge Cities’; areas piloting ecologically-friendly alternatives to traditional flood defences. Lush vegetation is being planted to bring down the temperature, and large green open spaces created with permeable pavements, rain gardens, grass swales, artificial ponds and wetlands to absorb rising flood waters.

New York was widely applauded for the transformation of an elevated rail viaduct on the west side of Manhattan into the ‘High Line’, a 1.45-mile-long elevated linear park that took its inspiration from the earlier ‘Promenade Plantée’ in Paris. Now a more ambitious project is planned, called the ‘Dryline’: 10 miles of flood defences along the shoreline will be provided by acres of green space containing protective berms and planting, walkways, promenades and bike paths to protect the city from hurricanes.

In contrast, organising cities like Paris on a smaller scale can also be a demonstration of proactive and big picture thinking. Mayor Anne Hidalgo is proposing to phase out vehicles and to reinvent the city centre as a ‘15-Minute City’ or ‘La Ville du Quart d’Heure’. The aim is to offer Parisians what they need, on or near their doorstep, to ensure an ‘ecological transformation’ and to reinforce the capital as a collection of characterful neighbourhoods or ‘Urban Villages’. This, she hopes, will decrease the need for travel, reducing pollution and stress in the process and create socially and economically mixed districts to improve the overall quality of urban life for residents and visitors.

It would be naïve to imagine that we can eradicate all disease but also inappropriate to think that urban life is doomed as a result. Cities will continue to hold the key to the entire world’s future as centres of civilised culture and expression, and as a vital part of the solution to the climate and health. However, the current pandemic is highly likely to require the further reshaping of our cities, and rightly so as we continue to learn from it.

The role of today’s architects and urbanists in pro-active urban planning is therefore more important than ever, if we are to rise to the challenge of continuing to thrive in close proximity to each other in dense urban populations into the future.

By John Letherland
Urban Planner and Master Planner
Programme Director: MA Architecture and Urban Design