This interdisciplinary event aims to explore the place of the body in the 21st century city. The symposium focuses particularly on the emotional and sensory orientations of the urban body, unpacking the significance of under-recognised bodily experiences to broader understandings of city life. As cities get smarter and big data increasingly occupies mainstream urbanism, this symposium argues that the bodies and experiences of urbanites remain vital tools for understanding the social forms of the 21st century city.
Anja Humlja – Architect and creator of the UYP
The urban yoga project
The Urban Yoga Project is exploring an alternative way of understanding the relationship between the urban environment and our sensuous body combining architecture and yoga. The objective of the project is that we can increase the quality of our city life by designing urban environment that is not only visually stunning and functional, but is designed with our sensuous body in mind. Architecture, namely, is much more than geometry and function. It is the subconscious sensory experience - what we smell, touch, taste and hear without realizing - that affects most how we feel in certain space. Therefore, the final goal of The Urban Yoga is to develop a method for designing space based on subconscious sensory experience, which should be integrated with every general approach to designing space.
The Urban Yoga Photos are a metaphor for the experiment: how do we perceive space if we surrender ourselves to it with our whole sensuous body and give ourselves up to feelings that are running through space? I am asking my fellow citizens: Smell, touch, taste, see, hear - how does you city feel? The UY photos were taken during the course of one year (2013/2014) in places I worked as a freelance architect and designer: New York, Madrid, Paris and Ljubljana. In every city I collaborated with a local photographer, who pictures the context behind The Urban Yoga according to his own interpretation, whereas I use my body to mimic space and explore ways of becoming a part of it.
Charlotte Bates Goldsmiths, CUCR
Moving with/in space: bodies, ballets and urban design
Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody. (Jacobs 1961: 238)
This presentation considers the generative relations between bodies, spaces and everyday life in the city. Taking as an example a new public square in Woolwich, South East London, a multicultural locale currently undergoing rapid urban regeneration, I explore the possibility that inclusive design, or design for everybody, is generated both for and by moving bodies (McCormack 2013). Drawing on my own research with the landscape architects who designed the square and with local disabled residents, I consider the ways in which urban space is thought, felt and moved with/in. The unfolding ballet of everyday life in the square (Jacobs 1961) suggests that urban design is choreographed over time and through the intermingling of intention and inhabitation. This ongoing project is one element of the ERC research programme ‘Universalism, universal design and equitable access to the designed environment’.
Karla Berrens Universitat Oberta Catalunya, Barcelona
Ensounding bodies in space
Elaborating on Nancy's concept, this paper identifies some key elements of the composition we partake in when listening to the urban soundscape, notably focusing on the temporality of the auditory dynamics, through a sonic research on the making of place in East London. In this research, I investigated the relationship between the making of place, the soundscape and emotional practices. Thus, listening to people's relationships with sound will enable me to explore some of the connections created between soundscape and place that consciously integrate one another, examining how sensing space can transform our everyday experience in it and thus, our making of place. I will conclude stressing the importance of an embodied listening in everyday life approaches to the urban space.
Duncan Boak – Fifth Sense
Connecting through smell
Our sense of smell is one of only five sensory means through which we connect with the world around us. Despite this, most of us possess very little understanding of how it functions, or indeed just how much it contributes to our experience and enjoyment of life.
Like sight, hearing and, to an extent, touch, smell carries a spatial awareness; that is, it allows us to identify the type of environment in which we find ourselves. Smell is more than just a tool for identification, however; it also carries an emotional resonance beyond that provided by any of our other senses.
Smell was the first sense to develop in our early ancestors and was the primary tool through which they navigated their world. Even today, our olfactory system develops before any of our other senses – we have a functional sense of smell after 12 weeks in the womb. We start developing preferences for flavour from this point forwards, and as we get older our preferences for people and places are developed and remembered. Our olfactory system provides an emotionally resonant link between these life experiences and our stored memories.
I will also talk about how I make use of my other senses to compensate for my loss of smell, and how I often make choices about where to travel when exploring London based on the type and degree of sensory stimulation I wish to experience.
Alex Rhys-Taylor Goldsmiths, CUCR
Olfaction, Atmosphere and the Sensory Commons
From the posies and shallow cemeteries of medieval London to the boutique perfumes and fried chicken shops of the 21st century, odour and olfaction have played an ongoing role in the life of London, shaping everything from the layout of its streets to the economies of Empire and the stratification of its demography. This paper gives a brief overview of the historical, and enduring, importance of the sense of smell in the city. It concludes by considering what the sense of smell might tell us about the nature of cosmopolitanism in the contemporary city, and the broader relationship between public atmospheres, private experiences and social formation.
Dates & times
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