Guest Lectures
Online Event

Architecture of Decency, Enjoyment and Degrowth

  • 17.00 - 18.30
  • 10 Feb 2021
  • Microsoft Teams
Architecture of Decency, Enjoyment and Degrowth
Part of the Architecture Open Lecture Series: Fortuitous Encounters.

The event is titled Architecture of Decency, Enjoyment and Degrowth as part of the Open Lecture Series Fortuitous Encounters from the Leeds School of Architecture. The event will feature presentations by Maria Smith (Buro Happold) and Andrew Freear (Rural Studio). It is organised by Simon Warren and Tom Vigar, and will be moderated with the support of third year architecture students.

Wednesday 10 February 2021, 17:00 – 18:30.

The event will take place online via MS Teams and is open to the public. Booking is required.


17:00 – Maria Smith (Buro Happold)

17:30 – 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.

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