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Book launch: Animal Architecture: Beasts, Buildings and Us

23 March 2023, Bartlett School of Architecture, London

Any building can be inhabited by nonhumans. We’ve seen spiders spinning their webs in dark corners, and perhaps sparrows nesting under roof tiles. But how do architects think about animals in their designs? How do we factor them into our use of the built environment? Do we think about how selective we are in choosing which animals to keep in and which to keep out?

Paul Dobraszczyk has written a book that imagines new ways of thinking about architecture and the more-than-human. Constructing what one reviewer describes as “an architecture of astonishment,” he shows how we might design with animals and the other lives that share our spaces. Animal Architecture is a provocative exploration of how to think about building in a world where humans and other animals are already entangled, whether we acknowledge it or not.

In this conversation, co-organized with ISRF, Dr Dobraszczyk will explain the thinking behind his new book. He will be joined by two panellists: Tom Dyckhoff, a historian, writer and broadcaster on architecture, geographies, design and cities who teaches the history and theory of cities & architecture at University College London & Central Saint Martins; and Professor Nathalie Pettorelli, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London. A Q&A follows, moderated by Professor Christopher Newfield, ISRF Director of Research.

See for tickets. 


Art & the City

24 October 2020, Not Quite Light festival, Salford 

Postponed from March 2020, this event is curated and hosted by the Manchester Modernist Society and will examine the connection between public art  and architecture in Salford and Manchester, discussing artists such as the late William Mitchell, Alan Boyson, Victor Pasmore. 


The buildings around us are so important to our well being, our sense of place. Public art contributes hugely to the success of architecture on the streets that we walk on every day. This event explores some of the great public art achived in the 20th century, and its creators, and then debates the future, as costs, design and planning needs evolve. 


The afternoon will begin with a talk presented by Eddy Rhead from the Manchester Modernist society, followed by a fascinating panel debate that looks at the future of architecture and public art. The panel, chaired by author Phil Griffin, will consist of me, artist Sarah Hardacre, Suzy Jones director at RIBA North, and architect Philip Etchells.

See for updates and tickets. 

1851: Year Zero

5 February 2020, Sir John Soane’s Museum, London

For the most part, architectural history in Britain is the story of gradual change and evolution, of long term trends that give meaning to events as they unfold, even moments of apparent crescendo and climax. From time to time, however, old certainties are overturned, new ideas break free and the clock of history is reset: we call this a Year Zero.

In this talk, I discuss 1851: a year in which Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace caused a sensation and unveiled a new kind of ornamental effect that shattered existing conventions.

An edited version of the talk was also published by Machine Books and is available to buy here



The Future(s) of Manchester, Urbanisms I

29 August 2019, Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art, Manchester

The first in a series of 'Urbanisms' events, I'll be part of a  panel discussion with leaders in the fields of architecture, environmental research and urban planning to look at the potential future(s) of the city of Manchester.


The discussion will explore sustainable and socially conscious approaches to architecture and planning. Panellists include myself and Vicky Payne, Urban Planner and Project Managed at URBED Ltd and artists. 


Book launch of Future Cities: Architecture and the Imagination

28 February 2019, 6-8pm, Room 6.02, Bartlett School of Architecture, 22 Gordon St, London, WC1H 0QB


Architects, artists, filmmakers and fiction writers have long been inspired to imagine cities of the future, but their speculative visions tend to be seen very differently from scientific predictions: flights of fancy on the one hand versus practical reasoning on the other. Challenging this opposition, Future Cities teases out the links between speculation and practice, exploring a breathtaking range of imagined cities – submerged, floating, flying, vertical, underground, ruined and salvaged. In the Netherlands, prototype floating cities are already being built; Dubai’s recent skyscrapers resemble those of science-fiction cities of the past; while makeshift settlements built by the urban poor in the developing world are already like the dystopian cities of cyberpunk. Bringing together architecture, fiction, film and art, the book re-connects the imaginary city with the real – proposing a future for humanity that is already grounded in the present and in creative practices of many kinds.

The launch will feature a panel including myself, publisher Vivian Constantinopolous, and writer Darran Anderson. The discussion will be chaired by Peg Rawes (The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL) and will be followed by a reception.

This is a free, non-ticketed event, so please come early if you want to be guaranteed a seat!

See the event's Facebook page, or UCL Urban Lab's listing for more details.



Unmoored Cities: Radical Urban Futures and Climate Catastrophes

25 May 2018, 10am-6pm, Bartlett School of Architecture, 22 Gordon St, London, WC1H 0QB


Together with UCL Urban Laboratory and Robin Wilson and Barbara Penner at the Bartlett, I've organised a day-long symposium Unmoored Cities: Radical Urban Futures and Climate Catastrophes. I'll be introducing the event at 10am and chairing the plenary talk by CJ Lim. Here's the details:

This symposium explores imaginative modes of thinking in relation to future cities and climate change, asking how we might think through radical and utopian possibilities for unmoored cities. How will cities continue to thrive if they are submerged; will they float or even lift off into the air; and what might it mean to move a city? Drawing together speakers from a wide range of disciplines - anthropology, architecture, art, fiction, and geography - this symposium explores multiple urban imaginaries that engage with future cities and climate change. The result will be to challenge and expand the narrow range of possibilities that currently characterise approaches to the subject.

My report on the event can be read at


Going Underground

Thursday 8 September 2016, 630-830pm, Manchester Cathedral Visitor Centre, 10 Cateaton Street, Manchester

To celebrate the publication of Global Undergrounds: Exploring Cities Within, I'll be presenting a 45-minute talk on underground Manchester followed by the launch of the book with some refreshments.



Senate House Revealed

 13 November 2015, 630-830pm, Senate House, London

I'll be speaking on Senate House and the imagination at this event, along with Bradley L. Garrett, Katia  Pizzi, Hilary Geoghegan, Henry Irving and Claire Launchbury.

Charles Holden’s Senate House is best known as home to the WWII Ministry of Information and an inspiration behind George Orwell’s 1984. While many Londoners know its imposing form, few realise that beneath the building lies a network of switch rooms, utility tunnels, and hidden spaces. For one night only, join us in the building’s disused boiler rooms for an evening of talks on ‘urban exploration’. Wrap up warm, bring a torch, and come ready to join the debate! Limited places. Booking essential.


Good Taste/Bad Taste?

27 October 2015, 6-10pm, RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD

I'll be speaking on Victorian taste at this special evening exploring architectural taste. With contributions from Poet in the City, architect/designer Sam Jacob, curator/writer Anne Massey and Guardian critic Oliver Wainwright and more.

Taste is how we fit ourselves into the world. Whether in art, architecture, literature, music or home furnishings, one’s choices are social signifiers. In 18th century England, Palladian architecture told others about your wealth, class and status, today your phone or what TV show you watch does the same. Taste is free, yet incredibly prescribed, codified and enforced and we are all pushed and pulled by it.


Cities of Void,  Passengerfilms

11 August 2015, 7-10pm, Jetlag Bar, 125 Cleveland Street, London W1T 6QB


I'll be speaking as a panellist at this event, which includes a screening of The Omega Man (1971) and Oliver Harrison's short film Apocalypse Rhyme (2014). This screening event focuses on an emerging cultural interest in post-apocalyptic space across literature, film, video gaming and academic scholarship. This growing interest is developed in the light of ever-increasing sea levels and abundant economic disruptions. The two films will be followed by a panel discussion discussing the complex relationship between the human and non-human unfolding in imagined and lived apocalyptic scenarios. This multi-disciplinary panel will consist of Oliver Harrison, myself and Emma Fraser (PhD Researcher working on imaginations of the end of the city, University of Manchester).

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