UCL Urban Laboratory


Knowledge Territories

04 June 2018, 7:00 pm–8:30 pm

Knowledge Territories / Territori della conoscenza

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Italian Cultural Institute, 39 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8NX

Fifty years after the events of 1968, dissatisfaction about universities seems today more widespread than ever. Adapting to the logics of neo-liberalism, higher education has been increasingly absorbed into the commodification of human values that has turned universities into services ranked by students against a value-for-money logic. Besides such commercialisation, or, better, in continuity with it, universities play today a key role in the processes of urban identity, development and regeneration, counting among the largest land owners and as actors involved in real estate operations that threaten to subsume scholarly priorities and hinder teaching and research, the traditional core missions of a modern university.

This discussion aims to investigate the current status of universities by focusing on their spatial and territorial logics and politics, framed by a comparative perspective between Italy and the UK. The starting point will be a presentation of the book Territori della Conoscenza. Un progetto per Cagliari e la sua università (Quodlibet, 2017), which reflects on the state of an average Italian public university in the 21st century. The book focuses on the effects on universities of the Bologna Process - a series of agreements started in 1999 among EU member states for the creation of a common European higher education area which have resulted in the increased mobility, but also precarity, of faculty staff across institutions. It discusses how university architecture should respond to the new conditions under which higher education operates, including the promotion of student-centered learning strategies, the emergence of the figure of the student-entrepreneur, and the development of new kinds of relationships between universities and their host cities.

The event will consider how architecture may be conceived as central to a substantial contemporary redefinition of higher education comparable to that of 1968, when Joseph Rykwert described the new universities of the time as archetypes of combined urban and educational values for their age.

Organised as part of the London Festival of Architecture.


  • Sabrina Puddu, Leeds Beckett University 
  • Martino Tattara, KU Leuven
  • Francesco Zuddas, Anglia Ruskin University
  • Clare Melhuish, UCL Urban Laboratory (respondent)
  • Davide Deriu, University of Westminster (chair)

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