UCL News


Evolving Buildings and Cities Symposium

17 July 2008

From Darwin to Dawkins to modern design: Evolving building and cities is the subject of a symposium to be hosted at UCL (University College London) on Thursday 24 July 2008, which journalists are welcome to attend.

The symposium will be followed by the launch of a new book, 'Cities Design and Evolution'.

Dr Stephen Marshall (UCL Bartlett School of Planning), a speaker at the symposium and author of the book, says: "Today's planners sometimes end up creating modern cities that are less attractive and functional than our more traditional ones. Why? Some planners assume a city can be designed as a finite object like a building, while others plan cities as if they developed like growing organisms. I propose a third way of treating cities: as evolutionary entities composed of cooperating, competing and coevolving components."

The symposium, organised by the Environmental Structure Research Group (ESRG) and UCL, will feature the latest research on buildings and cities in terms of their growth, form, function, innovation, intention and emergence, design and evolution.

Other invited speakers include:

· Robert Adam (Robert Adam Architects; Chair of INTBAU)

· Michael Batty (UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis)

· Bill Hillier (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

· Michael Mehaffy (Centre for Environmental Structure Europe)

· Philip Steadman (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)

The symposium will be followed by a reception to launch two books published by Routledge.

'Cities Design and Evolution' explores how cities are put together, in terms of how the parts are organised relative to the whole, and how they evolve over time. It interprets planning philosophies from Modernism to New Urbanism, organic theories from Patrick Geddes to Le Corbusier, and evolutionary thinking from Charles Darwin to Richard Dawkins. The book provides the impetus for fresh approaches to urban planning and design.

A new edition of 'The Evolution of Designs: Biological Analogy in Architecture and the Applied Arts', by Professor Philip Steadman, will also be presented at the launch. The book discusses the many analogies between the evolution of organisms and the human production of artefacts such as buildings. It explores the effects of these analogies on architectural and design theory and considers how recent biological thinking can influence design.

Professor Philip Steadman (UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies) says: "Architects have sought inspiration from biology since the early nineteenth century, not just to imitate plants and animals, but to find design methods analogous to growth and evolution in nature. This new revised edition includes recent developments such as the use of computer methods in design, bringing a new kind of 'biomorphic' architecture through 'genetic algorithms' and other programming techniques."

Notes for Editors

1. The symposium will run from 1pm to 6pm on Thursday 24 July 2008 in the Chemistry Auditorium, Christopher Ingold Building, 20 Gordon Street, London WC1H (nearest tube: Euston or Euston Square).

2. The symposium will be followed by the book launch at 6.30pm in UCL Bartlett, Wates House, 22 Gordon Street, London WC1H.

3. Journalists who wish to attend either event or find out more should contact Jenny Gimpel UCL Media Relations Office on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 9726, mobile +44 (0)7747 565 056, out of hours +44 (0)7917 271 364, e-mail: j.gimpel@ucl.ac.uk.

4. Dr Stephen Marshall, UCL Bartlett School of Planning, can be reached on tel +44 (0)20 7679 4884 or email s.marshall@ucl.ac.uk. Professor Philip Steadman, UCL Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, can be reached on tel: +44 (0)20 7679 1628 or email j.p.steadman@ucl.ac.uk.

5. The events are organised in association with Routledge, the Journal of Urbanism, UCL and the Sustasis Foundation.