Peg Rawes’ research on Spinoza’s “humane ratios” for the Equalities of Wellbeing project got a mention in this article in Times Higher Education (Oct. 18, 2015) “Resilient ideas from the past offer powerful tools for today”.
Beth Lord recently spoke on “The free man and the free market: ethics and economics in Spinoza’s Ethics IV”, at the inaugural meeting of the London Spinoza Circle (Birkbeck College, 15 October 2015). She gave the same presentation to the Centre for Early Modern Studies at the University of Aberdeen (21 October 2015).
She will give the same talk at the University of Toronto on 20 November 2015, 3:00-5:00 PM. Further details available here: http://www.philosophy.utoronto.ca/events/beth-lord-university-of-aberdeen/
Peg Rawes will be speaking on 4 November on “Architectural ecologies and ratios”:
Architectural ecologies & ratios
6.30pm-8.00pm, 4 November 2015
Location: UCL Chemistry Auditorium, Christopher Ingold Auditorium, 20 Gordon Street, London, WC1H 0AJ
This lecture brings together planetary, social and housing issues through Spinoza’s 17th century ethics of ‘joy’. It explores how humane and inhumane ratios operate in architecture and art, with reference to the UK housing crisis and ‘eco-logical’ patterns in Agnes Denes’ and Buckminster Fuller’s maps.
The Bartlett International Lecture Series is free and open to members of the public on a first come, first seated basis. Places are limited so early arrival is recommended.
Sponsored by Fletcher Priest Architects
Podcasts are now available for all the papers from the recent Spinoza and Proportion conference at the University of Aberdeen. The links below enable you to hear the papers and to see corresponding visuals of the speakers’ on-screen presentations.
Simon Duffy (Yale-NUS College, Singapore), “Proportion as a barometer of the affective life in Spinoza”
Valtteri Viljanen (University of Turku), “Spinoza’s ontology geometrically illustrated: a reading of Ethics 2P8S”
Anthony Uhlmann (University of Western Sydney), “‘The eyes of the mind’: ratio and art in Spinoza and Swift”
Timothy Yenter (University of Mississippi), “Harmony in Spinoza and his critics”
Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen), “Spinoza’s ratios and relational autonomy”
Heidi Ravven (Hamilton College), “Ratio and activity: Spinoza’s biologizing of the mind in an Aristotelian key”
Mike LeBuffe (University of Otago ), “The place of body in Spinoza’s metaphysics”
Helene Frichot (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm), “Slownesses and Speeds, Latitudes and Longitudes: In the Vicinity of Beatitude”
Gokhan Kodalak (Cornell University), “Spinoza, affective architecture, and proportionate power”
Peg Rawes (Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL), “Dissimiliarity: Spinoza’s geometric ratios and housing crises”
Stefan White (Manchester Metropolitan University), “The greater part: how intuition makes a better world”
The Equalities of Wellbeing conference on Spinoza and Proportion is coming up next week (5-6 May) at the University of Aberdeen. The final programme, with all information, is available here:
Registration is open until 5 May at this link: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/spinoza-and-proportion-conference-tickets-15501670915?aff=eac2
Contact: Beth Lord email@example.com
Spinoza and Proportion Conference
5-6 May 2015, University of Aberdeen
This conference will explore themes of proportion, ratio, equality, and harmony in Spinoza’s philosophy. On Day 2 there is a special emphasis on Spinoza in relation to architecture and housing (papers by Frichot, Rawes, Kodalak, and White).
A provisional programme is now available below, and for download here: Spinoza and Proportion programme
All are welcome to attend. Attendance is free, but advance registration is required.
Aberdeen can be reached by air (Aberdeen airport) or train. Information about travelling to Aberdeen (Old Aberdeen campus) and campus maps can be found here.
If you require overnight accommodation, you are strongly advised to book early, as demand for hotel rooms in Aberdeen is unusually high. Affordable hotels near the university include the Premier Inn Aberdeen City Centre (20 mins walk) and Hotel Ibis Aberdeen Centre (30 mins walk). There are several B&Bs on King Street, all within walking distance of the campus.
Please contact Beth Lord <firstname.lastname@example.org> if you have any questions.
Tuesday 5 May
9:30 Welcome and introduction
9:35-10:45 Simon Duffy (Yale-NUS College, Singapore), “Proportion as a barometer of the affective life in Spinoza”
10:45-11:55 Valtteri Viljanen (University of Turku), “Spinoza’s ontology geometrically illustrated: a reading of Ethics 2P8S”
12:00-1:00 Lunch: the Hub (Not provided)
1:00-2:10 Anthony Uhlmann (University of Western Sydney), “‘The eyes of the mind’: ratio and art in Spinoza and Swift”
2:10-3:20 Timothy Yenter (University of Mississippi), “Harmony in Spinoza and his critics”
3:20-3:40 Coffee Break
3:40-4:50 Beth Lord (University of Aberdeen), “Spinoza’s ratios and relational autonomy”
4:50-5:00 Walk to Skype facility
5:00-6:10 Heidi Ravven (Hamilton College) (by Skype), “Ratio and activity: Spinoza’s biologizing of the mind in an Aristotelian key”
7:30 Conference Dinner: The Stage Door Restaurant, North Silver Street, Aberdeen (Provided for all speakers free of charge. Others may attend by booking in advance, choosing the appropriate option through the Eventbrite link above, at a cost of £40 per person, payable to the restaurant on the night.)
Wednesday 6 May
9:30-10:40 Mike LeBuffe (University of Otago ) (by Skype), “The place of body in Spinoza’s metaphysics”
10:40-10:50 Walk to NK3
10:50-12:00 Helene Frichot (Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm), “Slownesses and Speeds, Latitudes and Longitudes: In the Vicinity of Beatitude”
12:00-1:00 Lunch: the Hub (Not provided)
1:00-2:10 Gokhan Kodalak (Cornell University), “Spinoza, affective architecture, and proportionate power”
2:10-3:20 Peg Rawes (Bartlett UCL), Dissimiliarity: Spinoza’s geometric ratios and housing crises
3:20-3:40 Coffee Break
3:40-4:50 Stefan White (Manchester Metropolitan University), “The greater part: how intuition makes a better world”
Ten months after the first seminar on housing for the project, at a time when the national crisis in inequality and housing provision has deepened even further, and the day before a march on housing took place in London, this event brought together colleagues from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Faculty of the Built Environment UCL, the University of Liverpool and ETH Zurich, to consider how wellbeing and design interrelate in: contemporary design teaching contexts; architectural and urban histories of post-war housing, and housing commissions undertaken by small practices.
Across the presentations, the design of flexible or adaptable housing was the most recurrent view about the contribution that design can make to improving housing standards, housing stock provision and quality, and in light of the historical contexts that form today’s situation. However, there were different opinions of how current practices, and historical evidence defines these aims, and how they be implemented to improve current and future housing needs in UK society:
Peter Bishop underscored how the (currently absent) political will to improve the quality and provision of housing has been highly successful when it supports high quality housing design guides and standards (e.g. historically, the Parker-Morris space standards and, more recently, the impact of the Design for London Housing Guide for the Government’s housing consultation). Secondly, this political will has resulted in very successful housing when carried by local authority housing, architect, planning and design teams (e.g. the 1960-80s, London council boroughs, the GLA, Camden Council or Greenwich). Current guidance also emphasises high standards in the ‘performance’ of housing as part of a commitment to environmental wellbeing: by linking wellbeing with environmental design defined by carbon-reduction criteria, cities and their housing can be more strongly established and ensured. Simon Pepper’s ‘three ages of post-war housing’ reinforced the historical evidence of previous political commitment to quality in housing design, highlighting how 1950s-60s progressive Conservative and Labour Governments committed to housing as a political priority, which disappeared in the 1980s, and now wholly absent from the global economic asset-driven context of today’s housing market (e.g. where international property investors purchase flats, especially in London, that will remain unoccupied; or the resale of ‘right to buy’ flats which previously housed a family to be occupied by single young professionals). Stephen Gage also highlighted how the mid-Victorian terrace still provides an extremely resilient housing model for affordable adaptive design principles through which mixed social, economic and environmental standards achieved across different client groups and demographic needs.
For Jan Kattein, Patrick Weber and Sabine Storp, the wellbeing of the client/home-owner or tenant can be improved in collaborative and adaptive approaches to the local public space, and design ownership of a ‘home’. For these architects, design which isn’t determined by the larger professional scaled interest of building standards (and which Jan Kattein felt can stymie the capabilities of the smaller architect to work with their clients, or the ability of progressive developers and Housing Associations to best maximise their provision). Their presentations emphasised the importance of responsive and reflexive design approaches in which the architect collaborates with the household/home provider (Kattein) or recognises non-standard (e.g. non-European) models of adaptation (Storp Weber) so that housing design performance extends the importance of wellbeing from internal space/density ratio to enliven/reclaim external spaces of the neighbourhood as parts of the ‘home’. Patrick and Sabine also showed how a principle of low-cost adaptation has now revived the social housing failure of Le Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation housing project in Le Briey, northern France.
These nuances of scale of design highlighted how, whilst there may well be a tendency to identify two opposing approaches – that is, the ‘generic’ regulatory approach versus the ‘specific’ singular design approach – also visible are flexible/open-ended design approaches by architects and their respective professional and client communities which do not solely promote one approach at the exclusion of the other. Nici Zimmerman’s graphic modelling of the social, economic, political, environmental and cultural forces that drive the contemporary housing and wellbeing landscape, provided an interesting analytical assessment of how these relations are multi-faceted and complex both on the micro and macro scales. Her ‘long-view’ approach to ‘integrated decision-making’ for improving effective environmental design of housing and the health of UK cities and their inhabitants helped to capture, clarify and visualise the complex formation of wellbeing in built environment discussions.
Finally, in his closing remarks to the day, Adrian Forty observed that the conversations could be defined in three ways: first, that while today’s current political outlook is clearly poor for housing, the presentations show us that architects working with housing are mindful of these situations, but also choose to work beyond them; that is, architects have always, and still do, respond to their political and social contexts by exploring how design can change the built and social realities of their clients and society. Second, there was concern about whether regulated design standards are beneficial, and third, architects are, perhaps one of the few, or only groups able to make sure that wellbeing is an ethical standard in housing
Podcasts of the day to follow.
Housing and Wellbeing Seminar (Part 2)
Friday 30 January 2015
Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL
140 Hampstead Road, London NW1
— fully booked —
Panel 1: Design and Planning (Chair: David Roberts, BSA)
Peter Bishop (BSA and Allies & Morrison): ‘Housing, Planning and Political Agendas’
Jan Kattein (BSA and Jan Kattein Architects): ‘Housing – the People’
Panel 2: Social housing histories and current practices (Chair: Torsten Lange, ETH)
Simon Pepper (University of Liverpool): ‘Three Ages of Post-War Housing’
Sabine Storp and Patrick Weber (BSA and Storp Weber Architecture): ‘The St. Pancras Way (Design) Encyclopaedia’
Panel 3: Environmental health and demographic impacts on housing design (Chair: Peg Rawes)
Nici Zimmerman (Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering, UCL): ‘Integrated decision-making about Housing, Energy and Wellbeing (HEW)
Stephen Gage (BSA): ‘A (largely anecdotal) plea for long-term adaptability in housing to allow for varying household sizes and social expectations’
Closing discussion with speakers, Adrian Forty (BSA) and audience (Chair: Peg Rawes)
This event is part 2 of a seminar on current housing concerns for the AHRC Equalities of Wellbeing research project. For podcasts of the earlier event visit the project website: http://www.equalitiesofwellbeing.co.uk/publications-from-equalities-of-wellbeing-housing-workshop/