Public Lecture Series 2012: Urban Psychosis - A Tale of Two Cities

Thursday 29 March 2012
7pm - 9pm
Event type Public Lecture
Location Newton Room, Hamilton Centre
Booking Required? No
How does the design of cities affect the people that live there? Can understanding architecture through the act of walking help us heal our uneasy relationship with the built environment?

Chair: Akram Khan

Speakers: Graeme Evans, John Roberts, Will Self

Graeme Evans will consider how the design of cities reinforces urban dystopias. John Roberts, through a variety of examples, will explore how spaces of popular protest in cities emerge and why public authorities are so concerned to regulate them. Finally, Will Self will show how the act of walking, through exposing the follies and subterfuges of contemporary architecture and urban planning, can have the healing power to recalibrate our mal-adapted relationship to the built environment, and become a new form of aestheticised activism.


Graeme Evans

Graeme Evans Graeme Evans is currently Director of the Cities Institute and Professor of Urban Cultures & Design at London Metropolitan University, and was formerly head of research at Central St Martins College of Art & Design, University of the Arts London. He will shortly take up the post of Chair in Design in the School of Engineering & Design at Brunel. He holds an MA and PhD from City University.

Prior to academe, his career spanned executive posts in the Home Office, in international energy, property and transport industries, and as director of an arts, media and technical aid centre, Inter-Action, in north London. He is a leading author on urban culture and design, and the role of culture and creativity in city planning, including Cultural Planning: An Urban Renaissance?, Routledge; and  Designing Sustainable Cities, Wiley-Blackwell.

He has led major research studies into mixed-use, high density design and quality of life; on accessibility and street design, and for the Cultural Ministry, developed national cultural mapping and planning guidance and toolkits. He is currently undertaking a qualitative study of public space and urban safety for the Council of Europe Intercultural City programme.

John Roberts

John RobertsJohn Roberts is currently a Senior Lecturer in Sociology and Communications at Brunel University. He joined Brunel in 2004, having previously been a Lecturer in Sociology at Leeds University and a Research Associate at Manchester University.

John completed his PhD at Cardiff University in 2000 and his doctoral research explored free speech campaigns in London’s public parks from the eighteenth century until the early twentieth century. Since then John has conducted research on, and has written about, why people undertake voluntary activity in their communities, the changing nature of the workplace and the issue of whether employees are listened to by management, how new media encourages the growth of new public spaces for debate and discussion, the characteristics of new business and management ideas, and the regulation of protest in contemporary cities.

Will Self

Will Self is the author of eight novels, five collections of shorter fiction, three novellas and five collections of non-fiction writing. He is a regular contributor to a plethora of publications from Playboy to the London Review of Books and back again.

He currently does two regular fortnightly columns for the New Statesman magazine, and over the years he has been a regular columnist for the Observer, the Independent, the Times and the Evening Standard. Self's regular columns for Building Design on the built environment, and for the Independent Magazine on the psychology of place brought him to prominence as a thinker and activist concerned with the politics of urbanity.

Self has written about his bizarre 'airport walks' in two long essays 'Walking to New York' and 'Walking to the World', and believes that he may well be the only man to have walked from central London to Heathrow Airport and then taken a flight. He is a regular broadcaster on television and radio, including a recent stint writing and declaiming A Point of View.

At the beginning of March he will take up the position of Professor of Contemporary thought at Brunel. He lives in South London with his wife Deborah Orr, the journalist, and their children.

Page last updated: Thursday 22 March 2012