Lecture series at the CCA features the evolution of London, Calgary and Israel

This year’s “Learning From…” lecture series will explore cities’ responses to evolving architectural and urban conditions related to the changing global economy. The lectures focus on the cities of London, Calgary, and on kibbutzim in Israel, and will take place on Thursday evenings at 7:00pm in the Paul Desmarais Theatre at the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA). Admission is free.

How London Forgot to Talk About Itself

Thursday, March 10, 2011 at 7:00pm

Writer, journalist, broadcaster and influential architecture critic Kieran Long opens the series and presents a story about the difficulty of describing a city (London), in all its richness.

Against a background of recession and with mainstream politicians in the UK offering a new discourse of “localism,” Kieran Long’s lecture considers how historic meanings in the city and the memories of local people are excluded from the debate around how places should develop. Examples include places undergoing significant change today, such as the Royal Docks, Paddington Basin, and Dalston. The deafness of developers, politicians and architects to these narratives is so acute that contemporary city-making involves a kind of willful forgetfulness on the part of these actors. Their desire to reduce the city to operable conceptual horizons (economics, ecology, geography, climate, sociology) and then to develop discourses around these specialized fields, makes the development of the city a series of architectural and urban justifications, most of which are impossible for citizens to understand.

Long teaches at London Metropolitan University and is a consultant on urban design matters to Design for London, the Mayor of London’s urban design office. He is beginning a PhD looking at the history and philosophy of context in London and writes for publications including Volume, Form, Icon and Abitare amongst many others. Long is also the architecture critic to the Evening Standard newspaper.

The Political Architecture of Extreme Oil

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 7:00pm

Andrew Nikiforuk presents this talk on the rapid development of bitumen in northern Alberta and its effects on the character of the region, and the country. In his presentation, Nikiforuk purports that although the problems of oil exporting are well studied, Canada has yet to consider them or prepare for future oil price shocks.

A journalist, Andrew Nikiforuk has written about energy, economics and the West for a variety of Canadian publications including The Walrus, Maclean’s, Canadian Business, The Globe and Mail‘s Report on Business, Chatelaine, The Georgia Straight, Equinox and Harrowsmith. In the late 1990s, he investigated the social and ecological impacts of intensive livestock industries and the legacy of northern uranium mining for the Calgary Herald.

Nikiforuk’s journalism has won seven National Magazine Awards since 1989 and top honours for investigative writing from the Association of Canadian Journalists. His book, Saboteurs: Wiebo Ludwig’s War Against Big Oil, won the Governor General’s Award for Non-Fiction in 2002. His latest book, The Tar Sands: Dirty Oil and the Future of the Continent, examines the world’s largest energy project. It recently won the 2009 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award and was listed as a finalist for the Grantham Prize for Excellence in Reporting on the Environment.

Neither City, Nor Village – Kibbutz

Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 7:00pm

Yuval Yasky presents the kibbutz as a radical alternative to familiar types of human settlement. Ever since its early days, the kibbutz was conceived as a hybrid between rural and urban typologies in an attempt to eliminate the disadvantages of both types – the primitive conservatism of village life, and the capitalist exploitation of the proletariat in the city – while enjoying their benefits – the physical health of rural life along with the spiritual and cultural health of civil urban society. This hybrid developed into a distinct settlement typology within which new building typologies were invented.

Yasky is the head of the architecture department at Bezalel Academy in Jerusalem and an active architect, curator and researcher based in Tel Aviv. His research on the kibbutz and its planning and architecture was exhibited in the Israeli pavilion at the last Venice international architectural Biennale, which he co-curated.

The “Learning From…” lecture series takes its title from Learning From Las Vegas (1972), Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour’s vastly influential publication, which analyzed the commercial strips and architectural symbolism of Las Vegas in order to understand urban sprawl. In this spirit, the series brings together experts to explore specific urban conditions and their relevance to the future development of cities.

For more information, please visit www.cca.qc.ca/pdf/CCAlearningfrom2011_eng.pdf