Environmental Architecture Seminar Series

There are three seminars organised across the first three terms. In the first term, Seminar 1: ‘Environmental Disputes’, is aligned to Studio 1 and introduces students to contemporary case studies. These represent distinct cases of environmental design problems and disputes. During the second term, Seminar 2: ‘History and Theory’, will introduce students to important precedents and theories of architecture, environmental design and landscape architecture and urbanism, while in term 3, Seminar 3: ‘Science and Technology’ explores ways in which technical and scientific aspects of design could be theorized and applied in student design work.

Term 1

Environmental Disputes
Led by Godofredo Pereira

The first module of the MA EA seminar series is motivated by the belief that it is around environmental disputes that the most important socio-political changes of today are taking place. In focus will be global environmental concerns, but also the dramatic divisions that environmental transformations both reiterate and magnify: across the world differences in the quality and quantity of water supply, in proximity to polluted areas, or in protection from flood-risk, tend to map with clear racial, ethnic or economic divides. Each seminar will start by the presentation of a specific case study, which will be followed by a collective roundtable discussion of its historical, social, economic, political or material aspects. Key to this series will be the discussion of research and collaboration methods. The series will be delivered by a mix of MA EA staff and invited guests, and will offer a wide array of perspectives, from architecture to film-making, environmental activism or artistic practices.

Term 2

History & Theory
Led by Jon Goodbun

The History and Theory module, and the Science and Technology Studies module, have been conceived as a pair, with material which might properly be thought to be the territory of one feeding into the other. Each module opens with a short lecture series by Jon Goodbun, which operate as conceptual surveys setting out key terms and modes of thought, before opening up to a series of individual lectures.

The History and Theory module has amongst other things the task of constructing a retrospective history for a mode of practice - Environmental Architecture - which is only achieving disciplinary consciousness in the contemporary period. It is not simply a collection of examples of environmentally conscious practice from within the broader discipline of architecture - although it will include that. Rather, it attempts to critically understand the role that changing conceptions of the environment have played within architecture historically, and what a radical definition of the concept might be today, and as such will include references to a wide range of architectural production, including buildings, cities, infrastructure, books, films, exhibitions etc. The module will work through the key words, concepts and artefacts – such as nature, culture, mind, ecology, organism, network – necessary to articulate a sophisticated and critical understanding of environmental architecture today.

Term 3

Science & Technology
Led by Jon Goodbun

The Science and Technology provides an intellectual framework for thinking about scientific and technological tools and theories and their relation to environmental architecture and ecological practice. The seminar will argue that the technosphere can be harnessed to a political effect that is contrary to the epistemic hegemony that has reduced the Earth to a problem of financial value. These tools carry an excess that is necessarily alien to capital, a power from which alternative political imaginations might be derived: allowing different modes of seeing or measuring, they do not simply present an improved perspective over the world. Instead they present a different world, and thus allow the formulation of different problems. They open the possibility of a different aesthetics and of a radical reformulation of the politics of inhabiting in the Earth.

Indira Ghandi speaking at the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972Indira Ghandi speaking at the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972 (UN / Yutaka Nagata).
Indira Ghandi speaking at the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972Indira Ghandi speaking at the UN Conference on the Human Environment, Stockholm, 1972 (UN / Yutaka Nagata).