Architecture of Decency, Enjoyment and Degrowth

10 February 2021, 17:00 – 18:30


  • Maria Smith (Buro Happold)
  • Andrew Freear (Rural Studio)

Maria Smith, Director of Sustainability and Physics at Buro Happold. Smith is a multi-award winning architect, engineer, writer, and curator, working across disciplines to bring the built environment in line with planetary limits. Smith joined Buro Happold from Webb Yates Engineers in 2020, where they were a Director focused on sustainability and transdisciplinary practice. They bring fifteen years’ experience leading multi-award-winning architecture and engineering practices – from art and architecture practice Studio Weave, Interrobang Architecture and ¬Engineering and Webb Yates Engineers. They are a nationally elected member of the council of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), a trustee of the Architecture Foundation, and on the steering committee of Architects Declare. In 2017 they were appointed a Design Advocate by the Greater London Authority where they serve on the Ecological Urbanism Sounding Board and advised on the development of the Circular Economy Guidance document. Smith was also chief curator of “Enough: The Architecture of Degrowth”, the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale that explored how architecture can establish the conditions for an economy based on social and ecological flourishing. Smith has written for newspapers and magazines including the Financial Times, the Architectural Review and RIBAJ, where they were a columnist for five years. They co-founded the international series of politics and architecture debates Turncoats, and frequently speaks at universities, conferences, and events on sustainability, architecture and the interconnectedness of the ecological crisis and our economy.

Andrew Freear, from Yorkshire, England, is the Director of Rural Studio, Auburn University. For over two decades Freear has lived in rural Newbern, Alabama, a town with a population of 187, where he runs a program that questions the conventional education and role of architects. His students have designed and built more than 200 community buildings, homes, and parks in their under-resourced community. He is a teacher, builder, advocate and liaison between local authorities, community partners, and students. Freear’s work has been published extensively, and he regularly lectures around the world. He has designed and built exhibits at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, the Whitney Biennial, the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, as well as the Milan Triennale and the Venice Biennale. His honors include the Ralph Erskine Award, the Global Awards for Sustainable Architecture and the Architecture Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Freear was a 2018 Loeb Fellow at Harvard University and most recently received the Presidents Medal from the Architectural League of New York, the League’s highest honor.

View from a rooftop over looking car park, buildings and large number of trees with the city of Seoul in the background

Creating Liveable Cities: From Macro to Mental

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24 February 2021, 17:00 – 18:00


  • Garuth Chalfont (Lancaster University)
  • Alan Simson (Emeritus Professor, Leeds Beckett University)

Dr Garuth Chalfont is a leading practitioner in the art and science of healing gardens, therapeutic spaces, and dementia gardens that incorporate the natural world into the healing process. He designs and builds engaging outdoor spaces in dementia care environments. Hands-on training workshops facilitate their active and enjoyable use by residents, staff and families. At Lancaster University, Faculty of Health and Medicine, Centre for Ageing Research his focus is multimodal non-pharmacological contributions to secondary dementia prevention. He explores the benefits of the natural world for holistic health (mind-body-soul). This includes researching the nature gardens he has designed in the UK. Dementia Beat Camp (Facebook page) and the Dementia Pioneers (local activist group) interpret and promote the evidence gained through his research into culturally relevant lifestyle change.

Alan Simson is a landscape architect, an urban forester and a landscape urbanist. Currently, he is Emeritus Professor of Landscape Architecture + Urban Forestry at Leeds Beckett University. Prior to working in academia, he worked in the UK New Towns, particularly Telford, where he ran the Urban Forestry Programme for over eleven years. Telford was the first town in the UK to be granted Forestry Stewardship Certification. He has also worked in public and private practices, including his own, both in the UK and abroad. He is a member of the International Committee of the European Forum on Urban Forestry and has been involved in a number of EU-funded research projects, some of which he has led on behalf of the UK. In the UK, he a Director/Trustee of both the Arboricultural Association and the Community Forest Trust, and is Chair of the White Rose Community Forest. He has been engaged in planning and designing urban forestry and associated urbanism for many years, enthusiastically working and promoting in some 32 different countries to date the concept that a successful urban forest will be the prime choreographer of our viable, resilient urban futures. 

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Colourful graphic rendering of a section of a aerial shot of a city of buildings either side of a river with a bridge crossing it

Future Cities: Questioning spaces that promote wellbeing and social inclusion

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3 March 2021, 17:00 – 18:00


  • Rhiannon Corcoran + Graham Marshall (University of Liverpool)
  • Nick Dunn (Lancaster University)

Rhiannon Corcoran is a professor of psychology and Graham Marshall is an award winning urban designer and a visiting senior research fellow; both at the University of Liverpool Institute of Psychology, Health and Society.  They co-direct the Prosocial Place Programme that aims to understand and address the pernicious impacts of low-resource urban environments on health and wellbeing and to develop an evidence-based approach to urban design.

Nick Dunn is Executive Director of Imagination Lancaster where he is also Chair of Urban Design. He is a Senior Fellow of the Institute for Social Futures, where he also leads research in the Future of Cities and Urbanism. His work responds to the contemporary city as a series of systems, flows and processes, and is explored through experimentation and discourse addressing the nature of urban space: its perception, demarcation and appropriation. His work for the UK Government Office for Science and projects such as the EPSRC-funded Liveable Cities contributes to the wider discourse surrounding the current characteristics and potential future scenarios of the urban landscape in a range of contexts. In particular, he is interested in why and how (maybe even where and when) we design, rather than what we design. He has published numerous books related to architecture and urbanism and his papers have been published and presented internationally and collaborative creative work exhibited across the UK, China and the Ukraine.

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Middle-Eastern market hall illuminated in green light

The Home as a Space of Resistance

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10 March 2021, 17:00 – 18:00


  • Elena Palacios Carral (Architectural Association)
  • Samaneh Moafi (Forensic Architecture)

Elena Palacios Carral (AAHCT 2015, AADipl 2012) is a PhD Candidate at the Architectural Association and a founding director of Forms of Living, a design and research platform. Palacios Carral has worked as an architectural designer in Mexico City and the UK, and as a researcher at Forensic Architecture. She teaches design studios at Oxford Brookes and Kingston University, and is a lecturer in history and theory at the Royal College of Arts.

Samaneh Moafi is a Senior Researcher at Forensic Architecture, where she provides conceptual oversight across projects and oversees the Centre for Contemporary Nature. Samaneh holds a PhD from The Architectural Association (AA), and a a BA and MA in Architecture from the University of Technology, Sydney. She practiced as an architect in Australia, taught BA Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney, MArch Urban Design at the Bartlett School, University College, London, and led a number of short courses at the Royal College of Arts and the AA.

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Dr Mohamad Hafeda

Reader / Leeds School Of Arts

Hafeda is an artist, designer, writer and academic. His work employs art and architecture practices as research methods to negotiate the politics of urban space, focussing on the issues of borders, refuge, displacement, representation and spatial rights. Through this, Hafeda engages with communities to produce counter representations and spatial alternatives that span urban interventions, media representations, art installations and writings.

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