The Architecture of Autonomy
The Architecture of Autonomy: Threats and Opportunities in Industrial Places
The two presentations at this week's Cass Research Seminar examine the relationship between architecture and autonomy through the example of workspace on and around the Old Kent Road. Ben Colburn is head of philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He is a moral and political philosopher, working on the ideal of autonomy and its relationship with individual responsibility and state neutrality. Jane Clossick is the Lecturer in Urban Design at The Cass, and is head of MA Architecture and Urbanism. She explores urban depth, London industrial accommodation and high streets with the Cass Cities team.
Ben Colburn (Department of Philosophy, Glasgow University) will speak about autonomy and authoring our own lives. The autonomous citizen decides for herself what is valuable and lives her life in accordance with that decision. This liberal ideal – an ideal of "self-authorship", to use Joseph Raz’s suggestive phrase – is put to extensive use in contemporary political philosophy, but comparatively underused outside that domain. This talk begins the task of extending its usage, with the hopes eventually of providing useful conceptual tools in architecture and urban design, and of enrichening the philosophical theory through application to an important and (in analytic philosophy) undertheorised area. Ben will start by explaining the ideal of autonomy, discussing its components and their interrelations. He will then explore the various different threats implied by this internally complex ideal. This gives us a diagnostic tool for identifying ways that arrangements (political, economic and spatial) might hinder citizens in enjoying this important good. He will conclude by sketching how this might apply in architecture and urban design, and what positive lessons we might draw if we want to design spaces and places which support people in being the authors of their own lives. Ben is head of philosophy at the University of Glasgow. He previously worked and studied at Cambridge. He is primarily a moral and political philosopher, working on the ideal of autonomy and its relationship with individual responsibility and state neutrality. His recent work has explored the application of some of these ideas, especially in the domains of education, refugee policy and end-of-life care.
Jane Clossick (Cass Cities) will discuss the autonomous lives of the Old Kent Road. The industrial and employment accommodation available (size, shape, location, tenure length and cost) affects the type of businesses that can exist and the capacity entrepreneurs and business owners have to live autonomous lives: to decide for themselves what is valuable and live in accordance with that decision. Large-scale erasure of industrial land and accommodation is taking place in London. The Old Kent Road is undergoing such changes, driven by planning policy. It is important to find a way to discuss whether the London Plan and local planning policy will better people’s lives, or not: to open the discussion beyond the well-rehearsed narrative of solutions to the housing crisis. The Old Kent Road is a useful example which represents many others, as de-designation of protected industrial land plays out in many similar locations across London. In this talk, Jane will explore what type of businesses and what type of working lives exist in the industrial sheds of the Old Kent Road. Cass Cities has spent two years conducting a social and economic audit of every address in the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area and Jane has mined this data to find examples of people exercising their autonomy, and examples of people having their autonomy stifled. She will argue that reducing the available business accommodation raises ethical questions. If individual autonomy is a valuable ideal, should our planning policy be restricting it for business owners?
Cass Research Seminar series
Wednesday 1 November, 2pm
The Death and Life of Public Streets, a lecture by Dr Agustina Martire.
Thursday 2 and Friday 3 November, 10am-6pm
What makes a good mixed use street? How can good streets be represented beyond the usual tools?
Organised by Dr Jane Clossick
Cass Research Seminars are a series of public conversations which enable researchers to test and present their ideas in conversation with peers and a broader audience.
Monday 20 November 2017 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
Matthew Barac and Paulo Moreira will speak on the topic of informal architecture in African cities.
Monday 27 November 2017 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
A PechaKucha night on the topic of Making/Drawing as Research Method.
Monday 4 December 2017 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
PechaKucha night: Picking a Research Topic.
Monday 22 January 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
Networks of Making and Habitation, two presentations from Lewis Jones and Mikey Baldwin.
Monday 29 January 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
An Architecture of Relationships, a presentation by Unit 10 leader and Head of School of Architecture Signy Svalastoga.
Monday 5 February 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
Urban planning and architectural historian Juliet Davis will be discussing issues of regeneration relating to industrial areas of London with Cass Cities’ Jane Clossick.
Monday 12 February 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
Businesses can reside in all types of buildings, both Frances Holliss and Mark Brearley research the accommodation needed by businesses of different types.
Monday 26 February 2018 at 6.30pm, in room GSG-15A
PhD students Torange Khonsari (Architecture) and Marie Brenneis (Art), speaking about An Alternative to Globalised Austere Architecture.
Monday 5 March 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
J Benedict Brown, S Denicke-Polcher, M Barac and D Warren will each give a short presentation on their ideas about education, pedagogy and research, with a focus on architecture.
Monday 12 March 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
The Architecture of Autonomy: Threats and Opportunities in Industrial Places.
Monday 19 March 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
Cass PhD students’ progress submission presentations by Asif Din (Architecture) Annisa Jabbour (Architecture).
Monday 9 April 2018 at 6.30pm, in GSG-15A
In this twelfth Cass Research Seminar Rut Blees Luxemburg and Patrick Lynch will consider the problems of dwelling, aesthetic value and city participation.