UCL Urban Laboratory


The (Dis)Comforts of Home

13 September 2012–14 September 2012, 9:00 am–5:00 pm

Event Information

Open to




The (Dis)Comforts of Home is a two-day symposium (13-14 September 2012) exploring how comparative cultural perspectives on the concepts of 'home' and 'comfort' can help us understand, learn from, and influence the behaviour that drives domestic energy consumption. The symposium features papers by some fifteen academics and postgraduates from the School of European Languages, Culture and Society, SSEES, Geography, Anthropology, Science and Technology Studies, the UCL Energy Institute, and more. It also features two documentary screenings with panel discussion, both of which are open to the public (see The Light Bulb Conspiracy and Philips Radio).

Generously funded by the Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies of UCL Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and the UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities.

The Light Bulb Conspiracy

Dir. Cosima Dannoritzer, Spain, 2010, Media 3.14

Introduced by producer Mr Joan Ubeda, and followed by a panel discussion.

Organised in conjunction with the symposium The (Dis)Comforts of Home.

Venue: Lecture Theatre B05, Chadwick Building, UCL Main Quad, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT (the Chadwick Building is immediately to your right as you enter the UCL Quad from Gower Street). 

Once upon a time... consumer goods were built to last. Then, in the 1920's, a group of businessmen realized that the longer their product lasted, the less money they made, thus Planned Obsolescence was born, and manufacturers have been engineering products to fail ever since.

The current throwaway climate - where the latest technology is outdated after a year and electronics are cheaper to replace than to repair - is the basis for economic growth. But infinite consumption is unsustainable with finite resources. With the economy crumbling and consumers becoming increasingly resistant to the practice, has planned obsolescence reached the end of its own life?

Combining investigative research and rare archive footage with analysis by those working on ways to save both the economy and the environment, this documentary charts the creation of 'engineering to fail', its rise to prominence and its recent fall from grace.

Winner of numerous awards, including:

1st Prize 'Science, Technology and Education' - GZDOC 2010(China)
'Best Documentary' - Spanish Television Academy Awards 2011
'Best Film' - SCINEMA 2011 (Australia)
'Maeda' Special Prize / Japan Prize 2011 (NHK, Tokyo)
'Ondas Internacional', 2011 (Spain)
'Best Feature Documentary', FILMAMBIENTE 2011 (Brazil)
Special Jury Mention - FICMA 2011 (Spain)
Finalist - Focal International Awards 2011 (London)
Finalist - Magnolia Awards, Shanghai TV Festival 2011
Finalist - Prix Europa 2011