ESALA Public Lecture Series 2021-22

illustration of wavey lines

The Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) Public Lecture Series situate architecture, landscape architecture, and related fields at the intersection of environmental, political, and social crises. This programme of events contributes to ongoing debates in research, practice and pedagogy by celebrating a diversity of voices and a multiplicity of approaches.

The 2021-22 ESALA Public Lecture Series focuses on the two interconnected themes of Community and Climate Crisis, the series responds to the climate emergency, interconnecting environmental pollution to the issues of colonisation, segregation, racism, forced migration, and to systems of injustice.

Click here for information on upcoming ESALA Public Lecture Series

Shahed Saleem: ‘Can architecture be decolonised?’ | ESALA Frictions Public Lecture 2021-22


What does it mean to decolonise architecture, where do we start to understand and undertake this process? In this lecture Shahed Saleem will present his research and design work and ask whether it constitutes a practice of decolonisation by centralising the narratives and experiences of migrant, diasporic and subaltern communities.

Shahed’s research and writing of the architectural and social history of the British mosque has given recognition to a largely self-designed form of architecture and institutionalised this story into British architectural history. The British mosque is the subject of the current V&A Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, which Saleem has co-curated, and he will speak about this project and his wider research.

Through his own mosque designs, Shahed seeks an Islamic architecture that is responsive to the Muslim experience in Britain, which is mostly a migrant and marginalised one. He will present his own design work and design research which asks whether postcolonial diasporas can articulate their identities and narratives through architecture.


Click here to view Shahed Saleem’s lecture directly on Media Hopper Create 


Hannah le Roux, ‘Fragments of Asbestos-Cement, 1940 to 2040’ | ESALA Frictions Lecture


Asbestos-cement products of the Swiss-Belgian Eternit group and British firm Turner and Newall were used to roof half of the low cost-housing built for black South Africans from the 1940s to the early 20th century. multinationals. Accelerated by the ever-greater impact of storms and fires, these now degrading products will continue to release fibres into air, soil and watercourses. Fragmented to microscopic fibrils, they have become just one of the invisible exposures we face in a chemically altered world.  In tracking the tragic narrative of asbestos-cement’s deliberate inclusion in housing for the poor, it became apparent that this is a story that itself can only be retold in fragments where industry records are sealed or destroyed. In their place, evidence of sponsored collaborations in the form of publicity material aimed at architects, and their experimental buildings, can be used to piece together this period. The messy consequences of architects specifying asbestos are a reminder that we need to understand what is embedded in our practices, and show the extent of care that is needed to repair them.


Click here to view Hannah Le Roux’s lecture directly on Media Hopper Create

Daniel Barber, ‘Architecture of the Aftermath’ | ESALA Frictions Lecture


Looking at buildings and drawings from about 1930 to the present, from the Americas, West Africa, and around the world, I will outline a history of architecture as a device for climatic adaptability - a dynamic mediator between thermal interiors and global climates. Architecture as an energetic system that, over time, has both monitored and managed flow. Brazil in the 1930s and 40s in particular - just before air conditioning took command – will give possibilities and cautions of climatic modernisms, see these dynamic strategies in relationship to developmentalism and resource extraction.

How can we understand these buildings in contrast to the all-glass sealed and conditioned office towers that are being built in cities today? The goal of ‘carbon-neutral by 2050’ suggests that we need to base architecture, on a different carbon cycle: eliminating hydrocarbon fuels and their emissions, as well as cycling, storing, and pooling carbon in new ways through buildings. The focus of the presentation will be on the buildings themselves - a history of climatic adaptability - and also on the interactions they solicit: a climatic adaptive building that scripts habits and patterns less reliant on carbon emissions.

Mapping the changing connection between carbon emissions, indoor comfort, and climate instability, I am also interested in establishing a break, a hinge, a historical recognition that the architecture of petroleum, of energy profligacy, is behind us. Architecturally, we live in the aftermath. As we change our practices and forms of knowledge, we draw on history, practices, and traditions in different ways. I hope to follow the presentation with a collective discussion considering architectural histories and the tools, systems and collective future of climate change mitigation.


Click here to view Daniel’s Barber’s lecture directly on Media Hopper Create 


Ursula Biemann, ‘Devenir Universidad’ | ESALA Frictions Lecture


The video projects of Ursula Biemann generally take a systemic approach to terrestrial conditions by connecting the micropolitics on the ground with a theoretical and planetary macro level. The main protagonist in her recent narratives is the figure of the indigenous scientist who emerges from a shared history of colonialism and the appearance of modern science. Her field research in the summer 2018 took her to the South of Colombia. At the invitation of an indigenous leader, she is currently involved in the co-creation of a Biocultural Indigenous University in the Amazon. Grounded in an international partnership, the visionary project aims to integrate indigenous knowledge systems with modern science, fostering a supportive ecocentric worldview. The project involves the creation of an online audiovisual platform on the process of an Indigenous territory becoming University.

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Jan De Vylder & Inge Vinck: ESALA Public Lecture

Jan De Vylder & Inge Vinck, Simpson Visiting Professors, speak in ESALA’s Frictions Public Lecture Series. CC BY

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Brady Burroughs, ESALA Frictions Public Lecture

Bauhaus to Ninja. CC BY

Assassinating Seriousness in Architectural Education

Brady Burroughs

Humor has long been used as a critical tool by architectural critics, but can taking ourselves a little less seriously help transform us into pedagogical ninjas? This talk looks at pedagogical practices that use humor to question the power of seriousness (what is valued) in architectural education. Beginning with a “flop”, we’ll look at some examples from pedagogical situations, where we challenge serious architectural values through practices such as staging critical conversations, shifting positions/changing genres, and relating critical theory to everyday situations to make it more accessible. Wear your most comfortable and colourful zoom-outfit, and bring your sense of humor. If you’ve misplaced yours, feel free to borrow one!

Brady Burroughs (1970) is an architectural educator and writer, interested in questions of positioning and power, experimental pedagogical practices, and making critical ideas accessible beyond academic circles. Co-author/Editor of Ahmed for Architecture Students (2019) and author of Architectural Flirtations: A Love Storey (2016), Brady works as Head of Second Year at KTH School of Architecture in Stockholm, where she holds a PhD in Critical Studies of Architecture.

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Bellastock, ESALA Frictions Public Lecture

Bellastock will share 15 years of experiments in circular economy and transitory urbanism applied to the fields of urban design, architecture, and construction. Demonstrative projects and field studies involving the reuse of reclaimed building elements and tactical urbanism fed the development of public applied-research programs that contributed to the dissemination of a collaborative and frugal culture among planning and architecture professionals. Through its annual festival, workshops, and professional training programmes, Bellastock is also fully committed in the sharing of innovative practices among professionals and future professionals, and in pedagogy and sensitization among a wider public.

These complementary fields of action give Bellastock the capacity to explore and develop new ways to work the materiality of places, buildings and territories, in response to the challenges of tomorrow which are, more than ever, the challenges of today.


Bellastock is a cooperative community-oriented enterprise (SCIC) in the field of architecture. Our work focuses on the valuation of territories and resources. Bellastock has 10 years of experience in circular economy applied to the construction sector, and especially on the reuse of building elements, through demonstrative pioneering projects and national and European research programmes. This has allowed our organization to provide technical assistance in more than 100 architectural projects and raise awareness among the French construction sector.

Bellastock thus initiates innovative, ecological, and solidarity-based projects, and proposes alternatives to the traditional act of building by organising the flows of materials and prefiguring territorial transformations.

In 2020, Bellastock won the ‘Palmarès des Jeunes Urbanistes’ (‘Young Urbanists Award’), awarded every two years by the Ministry of Territorial Cohesion and the Ministry of Ecological Transition.

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ESALA Public Lectures Series: Rotor (Gaspard Geerts & Arne Vande Capelle – Geddes Visiting Fellows)

Reuse: Rediscovering a Practice. CC BY-NC.

Today, reuse is often presented as a new thing, an innovation that requires complex technical solutions, a whole new branch of building materials and lots of expansive digital support. But in fact, reuse has always existed and continues to do so today, even if it has become a very marginal practice in our Western society. At Rotor, our work has been guided by the principle that “reuse” is more about rediscovering practices that have been swept away by discourses of modernisation and innovation than it is about reinventing the wheel. But this does not mean of course that reuse does not require inventiveness or creativity. On the contrary, rediscovering practices and adapting them to our current conditions often requires lots of both. During our presentation we will present a series of projects, and zoom in on what point during the design and build process we tweaked contemporary protocols and design conventions. By doing this, we hope to demonstrate the very concrete requirements of the circular economy today, without disregarding what already exists.

Founded in 2005, Rotor is a multi-disciplinary team that focuses on material flows in industry and construction, with an emphasis on the relationship to resources, waste and reuse. On a theoretical level, Rotor formulates creative strategies for recovery and waste reduction through publications, conferences, workshops and exhibitions. On a practical level, Rotor carries out interior design and assists clients, designers and construction companies in extracting and integrating reused materials into their projects.

Since 2014, the activities of deconstruction, dismantling of building elements and resale are conducted under the name Rotor Deconstruction, a spin-off that specialises in large-scale office interiors. In 2015, Rotor’s work was recognised with the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture, awarded under the patronage of Unesco. Rotor and Rotor DC are based in downtown Brussels and together employ about 35 people.

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ESALA Frictions Lecture: Annmarie Adams

Grand Plans: hospital architecture and what it tells us. CC BY-NC

This talk explores the role of monumentality in a century of hospital design. From the sprawling British pavilion-plan building typology to postwar towers and today’s mega-institutions, hospital architects have consistently argued for bigness. Such notions of largesse have been expressed in a range of architectural ambitions, from building massing to complex arrangements for air and patient circulation. Is bigger always better? We explore extensive wards, imposing silhouettes, sophisticated anti-contagion strategies, and even temporary COVID hospitals with this question in mind.

Building on the methodologies of her 2008 book Medicine by Design, Adams’ new work extends the ways the built environment can serve as historical evidence. Current projects include a “spatial biography” of a well-known woman doctor; a feminist reconstruction of an Art Deco garden; and a yearning to capture her own subjective responses to the study of hospital architecture.


Annmarie Adams is an architectural historian based at McGill University, Montreal, where she is jointly appointed in the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. She holds the Stevenson Chair in the History and Philosophy of Science, including Medicine, and has recently finished a five-year term as Chair of the Department of Social Studies of Medicine. From 2011-15 she served as Director of the School of Architecture.

Adams’ publications include Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, 1870-1900 (McGill-Queens University Press, 1996); Medicine by Design: The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893-1943 (University of Minnesota Press, 2008); and Designing Women: Gender and the Architectural Profession (University of Toronto Press, 2000), with sociologist Peta Tancred. She is currently writing a book on a pathologist and museum curator: Maude Abbott: A Life in 10 Spaces, under contract with McGill-Queen’s University Press and funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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ESALA Frictions Lecture: Alison Killing

Alison Killing: Killing Architects


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