If you have any questions about the event please contact Amber Cuttill.

E: a.cuttill@ucl.ac.uk

T: +44(0)20 3108 4106


This conference explored our preconceived ideas of cities and urban life, including how cities come in to being, how we try to tame them through planning and construction, their social implications (past and present) and why all of this matters to us today.

You might be interested in this conference if you are currently studying:

  • Art
  • Art and Design
  • Geography
  • Government & Politics
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Construction (BTEC)
  • Environmental Studies
  • History
  • English
  • Sociology
  • Design & Technology

Cities lectures and seminars

Cities: Dreams and Realities

The Bartlett School of Architecture

Opening Lecture

Cities link buildings, green spaces and streets together to host to an unplanned mixture of individuals in a constructed environment. They embody a rich history that is continually evolving and growing, providing a context where memories are formed and situated. They allow us to dream about the future and dwell on the past. Architecture is everything - it exists beyond buildings; design is integrated into every fragment, mechanism and action that keeps the city in motion - it is all of the expectations and actualities we as inhabitants consume from the city. We react to this by choosing a particular routine or approach to navigate and inhabit our own personal worlds within reality, and the in-between spaces of the city can be the most important to map for this geography. Wandering in the city reveals the tangled connections of the city in motion, and illustrates it as a fort that gives and takes all citizens, highlighting the many masks the city wears to let work neigbour play, or to evoke familiarity in novelty. We want to inspire you to embark on exploring and appreciating your own city and cultivate personal readings of future uncharted territories.

The good, the bad and the ugly - how construction impacts on the built environment

The Bartlett School of Construction & Project Management

Lecture & Seminar

Almost everything we do involves the built environment; from where we live, study, watch films, dance, to where we play sports.

Our built environment shapes the way we see the world, and is shaped by all of us: the people who design and build it, and the way we live in it.

We now understand that the built environment we are creating around us has an impact on the planet and not all of it is good. In building our homes, schools, hospitals, football stadia, airports and everything else we rely on in our modern lives, we use many resources - both energy and the materials we grow or extract from the world around us - and some of these are at risk of running out.

Buildings can create a lot of waste in making them and when we finally demolish them at the end of their life. They can use large amounts of energy to light and heat in their day-to-day operation.

So what is good; what is bad and what sort of buildings and cities should we be creating?

Imagine the sort of buildings you would like to live in and see around you? We want to challenge you to think about buildings and construction and to give you an idea of what having a career working in the built environment can mean in terms of contributing to sustainable cities.

"Cities in a World of Cities" - the need for a global perspective on Urban Analysis

UCL Department of Geography

Lecture & Seminar

New trends in urbanisation present challenges to traditional approaches in urban studies. New centres of urban dynamism in Asia present models for urban development across the globe; ongoing urbanisation in some of the poorest countries in the world presents significant developmental challenges. Moreover, urbanists are increasingly aware that defining the urban - demarcating the city - is often defeated by the sprawling form of metropolitan regions and the ways in which extended urbanisation processes have a much wider planetary impact. The talk will present examples of these urbanisation processes and discuss their implications for building new more global approaches to understanding cities.

Care or Control? Victorian Charity and the Urban Poor

UCL History

Lecture & Seminar

By the 1850s, when the industrial revolution had truly taken hold in Britain, Germany, and some parts of France and Belgium, most people in the big cities lived in conditions of abject poverty. Their housing was badly built, dirty, and overcrowded. They frequently fell victim to disease. Many died young. 

Politicians and social reformers began to take an interest in the conditions of life in the big city. To these mostly rich, upper class people, the urban poor were an object of curiosity. They were also something to be afraid of. ‘Why are cities like this?’ they wondered. ‘Why do so many people live like that?’ 

The answers and the solutions they came up with had wide-reaching effects, many of which we still feel today. But sometimes the motivations of these reformers are unclear to historians. Did the upper class want to change the cities because they really cared for their inhabitants, or did they just want to control their lives?

Walking: a (new?) way of understanding the built environment

Bartlett School of Planning


Walking is an everyday and common activity, but it has influenced the development of cities throughout history: from the cultural exchange brought about by pilgrims walking from one town to the next one, to the psychogeographical derives that the situationists did in Paris by mid 20th century, and its latest version as interactive walking tours offered in many cities like London. All this knowledge about the city, gathered through a walking approach to it, has informed urban planning and shaped different strategies that places the 'human dimension' of the built environment at its heart: shared spaces, pedestrian routes, multisensorial design of public spaces, streetscape treatments to emphasize the urban heritage, and so on.

This session will explore the relationship between walking and cities and will uncover new sides and dimensions to the same 'old' idea of putting one foot in front of the other.

Introduction to Planning

Bartlett School of Planning


This lecture will be about the big decisions that shape world around us. Decisions about where to build roads, railways, and even towns and cities, where to locate activities within those towns and cities and where to restrict development in order to allow for other uses of the environment. It is also about the very small decisions that individuals, organisations and communities make. Decisions about where to work, how to get to work and about where to live, about whether to support or to oppose new development. Most importantly it is about how planning has developed as a way of trying to make the decisions that shape our built environment better. Now, more than ever, with social, environmental and economic crises baring down upon us we need good planning and good planners to help make good decisions. Some of these problems may seem to get more complicated the more we look at them but finding ways of addressing these problems is just what planning has to offer.This lecture will show you how, at its very best, planning is about taking the complex problems of our modern world and finding creative solutions to the challenges of an uncertain future.

View the schedule for the day

Read the eligibility criteria.