Open Lecture: Guan Lee

Guan Lee

Thursday 24th March 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

Guan Lee is an architect, lecturer, founder of Grymsdyke Farm and co-director of UCL Bartlett’s Material Architecture Lab (M-A-L). He believes that “material exploration is fundamental to material innovation”. He thus explores digital fabrication in conjunction with hands-on building processes using a range of materials, including clay, concrete and plaster. Grymsdyke Farm, in Lacey Green, Buckinghamshire, was created to establish and explore the value of a collective living and working practice. That involves an intimate engagement with materials and processes of making in a specific place. For Guan, speculative and intuitive approaches to material manipulation for their own sake are as important as the demand for practicality and functionality. 

Architecture of material is about engineering imagined opportunities, cooking with or without recipes, and the construction of solids out of liquids. Whether designing or making, what we seek can transform the everyday and the ordinary. At the heart of a material-based practice is a commitment to stretch the bounds of experimentation and to fabricate purposeful trial and error. Material Architecture investigates digital and manual methods of fabrication using different composite materials, exploring ways of manufacturing architectural components while, in parallel, questioning their technological context and in the sphere environmental/social sustainability. Digital design can only exist in the digital realm: any physical manifestations thereafter involve in one form or another manual input. Thorough a series of research projects, this lecture explores degrees of workmanship as measures of human input, including not only traditional material-based grouping of crafts such as carpentry or pottery, but also less conventional digitally augmented manual work. How can research in making engage with material innovation? How can we square design experimentation with the sustainability of crafts and materials?

Open Lecture: Martyna Marciniak

Martyna Marciniak

Thursday 17th March 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

How can we recognise and interpret the limitations, lapses and glitches of architectural recordings in order to shape the knowledge beyond the visible? Can we use architectural thinking to uncover what’s not immediately apparent? This lecture will explore the role of spatial recordings in constructing the evidence of environmental violence and cases of human rights violation. The lecture will describe the achievements of the open source community, multi-disciplinary approaches to forensic counter-investigation and highlight the importance of subverting the conventions of architectural tools. The projects presented will explore the role of modelling and reconstruction to track air pollution, combat fake news, map the extent of facial recognition surveillance, archive witnessed events and reconstruct memories. In addition, the lecture will focus on the importance of digitally representing the meaning behind recorded events, while remaining objective to the facts.

Martyna is a Researcher and a Designer. Upon graduating from the Bartlett School of Architecture she worked as an architectural visualiser, exhibition designer and as researcher at Forensic Architecture. She taught Architectural Design at University of Westminster and University of Greenwich. She recently published several spatial investigations with Amnesty International and CNN and is currently working as a consultant and collaborator for Deutsche Welle, CNN, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Forensic Architecture and independent research groups. Her current research has been focusing on the role of digital reconstruction in documenting environmental processes with a post-natural lens. In particular, she has been focusing on the tracking of spatial connections between environmental violence and human rights violations in the Bialowieza Forest in Eastern Poland, considering migration and border militarisation.

Open Lecture: Adam Bell

Adam Bell

Thursday 10th March 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

‘Today, our details tend to exist solely for the service of the whole structure, and become inherent particles of the whole structure … So much so that the details often fuse completely with the greater architectural form to point where it’s difficult to separate them.’ This proposes the question, does the architectural detail enforce the aspirations of the polemical stance of the specific site, client, brief and the aspirations of the club?

Adam is a former student and current Design Realisation tutor at the University of Greenwich, as well as an Architect at Foster + Partners. He will show a series of projects including his Masters thesis ‘The Restored Commonwealth Club’ and schemes undertaken at Foster + Partners. The study of The Restored Commonwealth Club is formed of the Entrance and Library, focusing on a number of mnemonic details. The club has gone through a number of transitions in line with the state of the empire and the development of the Commonwealth, the ideological charge is released through the club’s details. Since being part of the Foster + Partners London studio he has collaborated on numerous projects including Mexico City Airport, a Secretariat in India, a gaming Headquarters in the United States, through to London’s Battersea Powerstation that is under construction. To oversee and monitor the construction the studio has employed the help of Spot, a robotic dog designed by Boston Dynamics.

Open Lecture: Simon Withers

Simon Withers

Thursday 3rd March 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

“ *** turn left if you’re supposed to turn right; go through any door that you’re not supposed to enter. It’s the only way to fight your way through to any kind of authentic feeling in a world beset by fakery.”

– Malcolm McLaren

Simon Withers teaches unit 14 in MArch Architecture and is a member of the Captivate Spatial Modelling Research Group at the University of Greenwich. He is currently using remote sensing to build a digital model of the entire Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site, above and below ground, from Rangers House to the River Thames.

Open Lecture: Shin Egashira

Shin Egashira

Thursday 24th February 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

Shin Egashira is an architect, artist, educator and PhD candidate who works collaboratively worldwide. His experiments fuse old and new technologies, and include the construction of Alfred Jarry’s Time Machine alongside astrophysicist Andrew Jaffe; ‘How to Walk a Flat elephant’, ‘Twisting Concrete’ and ‘Beautifully Incomplete’ at Betts Projects. He conducts a series of landscape workshops in rural and inner-city communities inter-culturally.

Shin Egashira is Unit Master of Diploma Unit 11 at the AA (Architectural Association) in London, with whom he has been critically documenting neoliberal urban development in London from 1996 to the present day. He holds visiting professorships at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and the University of Hong Kong.

Open Lecture: Piers Townshend

Piers Townshend

Thursday 17th February 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

Have you ever been flooded? Victims of tsunamis suffer greatly, but what upsets them most of all is loss of photos of friends and family. Prompt action and a little knowhow from a paper conservator can save an album before it goes mouldy. Did you buy a cheap Banksy print a few years ago, put it on the wall with sticky tape or BluTac? Now you find that it could be worth a small fortune, if only you could get the stains out. Send for the paper restorer. Architects drawings are often tightly rolled to save on storage. But then they get so springy that they are unreadable. Send for the paper restorer.

Piers Townshend was a bricklayer building houses in Newcastle in the 1970s. Cold weather and chilblains drove him indoors and he retrained as a paper restorer. From 1980 to 2013 he was a paper conservator/restorer at Tate Britain. Turner watercolours, Richard Hamilton prints and everything in between. Since then he has been working freelance. Recent jobs involved Paula Rego, Aubrey Beardsley and of course Banksy.

Open Lecture: Usman Haque

Usman Haque

Thursday 10th February 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

At its best, technology in the urban environment should not be about efficiency (which restricts complexity, serendipity and diversity), but about connecting – people, places and situations – in ways that leads to novelty, engagement and agency. Usman will talk about designing interactive spaces and platforms for urban communities and about why reconnecting human, non-human and urban infrastructure is crucial for dealing with the challenges of the 21st century. 

Usman Haque is founder and creative director of Umbrellium, a London-based design & build studio dedicated to transforming urban environments. His work embraces many disciplines, including design, architecture, the internet of things, urban community infrastructure, and large-scale public art/performance. Trained as an architect, he has created spectacular participatory events and large-scale installations for cities around the world. Earlier he founded Thingful.net, a search engine for the Internet of Things; and Pachube, one of the world’s first open IoT data platforms, acquired by LogMeIn in 2011. He taught at the Bartlett School of Architecture with Prof Stephen Gage in the Interactive Architecture Workshop (until 2005); and in 2015/2016 led RC12 Urban Design cluster, “Participatory systems for networked urban environments” with Adam Greenfield.

https://haque.co.uk/ • https://umbrellium.co.uk/

Open Lecture: Max Dewdney

Max Dewdney

Thursday 3rd February 2022, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

Humans are the only species that communicates information about things that don’t tangibly exist. Our ability to share abstract ideas is what has driven our evolutionary expansion. Today “the very survival of [real things like] trees and rivers and lions and sheep depends on the imaginary stories that Homo sapiens has invented.” – Yuval Noah Harari, ‘Sapiens’

Max Dewdney will show a series of projects from his practice Studio DERA, alongside examples of past students’ work, exploring ideas of ‘World Building’ through drawings, models and stories. ‘Imagined Realities’ are central to informing both the built and unbuilt work and the tools of representation that he moves between, and are fundamental to his practice as architect and educator.

Max Dewdney is co-founder and director of Studio DERA together with Swiss German Architect Marcel Rahm. Studio DERA is a vehicle for developing inquisitive projects operating in a non-hierarchical structure with the aim of contributing something meaningful to the world.  DERA works on both public and private projects across different contexts and at different scales, which allows projects to challenge and inform each other. A selection of DERA’s current projects include; Mozart House; a new community centre and nursery in East London; a stone vaulted basement in Regents Park and a new Sports & Cultural Centre for a school in west London.  

Max Dewdney spends his time between practice and teaching. He is an Associate Professor [Teaching] at the Bartlett, UCL and Co-Director BSc Y1 Architecture and has both taught and practiced extensively over the last 15 years. He trained at the Bartlett School of Architecture, the Cooper Union Irwin S Chanin School of Architecture, New York and was Rome Scholar of Architecture at the BSR. He has lectured and exhibited widely in the UK and internationally and won a number of awards.

Open Lecture: Rayan Elnayal, George Aboagye Williams, Sachini Jayasena [House of Many Cultures Exhibition]

Rayan Elnayal, George Aboagye Williams, Sachini Jayasena

Thursday 18th November 2021, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

‘House of Many Cultures: The Others’ Story’, curated by Rahesh Ram and Rayan Elnayal, was an exhibition in the Gallery at the Stockwell Street building in Greenwich, finished 12th November.


The notion of what it is to be British has arisen yet again in the light of current debates instigated by Brexit, Black Lives Matter, the toppling of statues that celebrated slave traders and structural racism. It seems, like more than ever, understanding the multitude of cultural identities that inhabit Britain is needed. The exhibition invited you to explore some of these cultures through the conduit of work undertaken by University of Greenwich alumni who embedded their cultural identities into their graduate projects. The work selected was specifically by British architecture students with hybrid identities (i.e., with diasporic backgrounds). The exhibition showcased projects that students used to explore their own culture and identity through an architectural lens. It is both an investigation into the self and also an opportunity for others to learn and understand a British demographic that is sometimes seen as the other. In this lecture, three of the exhibitors will be discussing their projects. All are graduates from the MArch Architecture programme at the University of Greenwich:

Rayan Elnayal, ‘A Magic Realist Afrabia’.

George Aboagye Williams, ‘Afrofuturism the Grounds of Discovery – A Case Study in Cultural Identity’.

Sachini Jayasena, ‘The Elephant in the Room: The Sri Lankan British Town’.

Open Lecture: Nat Chard

Nat Chard

Thursday 11th November 2021, 6.30pm

Tessa Blackstone Lecture Theatre [0003]

Nat Chard is Professor of Experimental Architecture at the Bartlett, University College London, following professorships at the Royal Danish Academy, Copenhagen, the University of Manitoba and the University of Brighton. He taught at the Bartlett throughout the nineties and has also taught at other UK architecture schools. He is an architect registered in the UK and has practiced in London. His work has been published and exhibited internationally. In his research he develops methods and instruments to construct tacit knowledge particular to architecture, especially in relation to indeterminacy and uncertainty. The two books on his work are Drawing Indeterminate Architecture, Indeterminate Drawings of Architecture (Springer) and Fathoming the Unfathomable, Pamphlet Architecture No.34 (Princeton Architectural Press) with Perry Kulper.

Image: Lidar Scan and photogrammetry by Thomas Parker.