Lecture Series

Text based poster listing the title and date of each event in the series


25 January - 3 March 2018

Chaired by Oliver Wainwright for Spatial Practices

Having begun by looking outwards, interrogating the fundamental forces that shape our cities, this year's debate series focuses the spotlight on the profession of architecture, taking a long hard look in the mirror to tackle the way we work. Architectural education is in crisis, staggering on as an overlong, overpriced indulgence with a tenuous grip on reality. Architectural practice only survives by running an exploited labour force of overworked, underpaid, precariously employed staff, fuelling an industry devoid of the power it once had. The best projects go to the worst practices, with risk-averse procurement systems leading to work being awarded to global conglomerates and safe pairs of hands. The architectural profession is broken at every level – how can we fix it?

The Way We Work: LEARN

Is architectural education outmoded, overpriced and increasingly irrelevant?

After five years of full-time education, architecture students can now expect to graduate with £100,000 of debt, a high cost that is leading many to question what they're getting for the money and if it's really worth it. Often accused of being detached from reality, driven by fulfilling tutors' own theoretical agendas and encouraging masochistic working habits, architecture schools are facing vocal pressure for change. From the rise of live projects and collaborative studios that engage with real development sites, to practice-based models of education that do away with the school all together, how can architectural education evolve to remain relevant?

Mel Dodd – Central Saint Martins | Robert Mull – University of Brighton | Deborah Saunt – London School of Architecture | Bob Sheil – The Bartlett, UCL

Thursday 8 February, 6.30pm - WORK

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Are architects overworked, underpaid and losing their agency?

Once enjoying a lordly position at the top of the tree, architects have found their status progressively eroded, with every stage of the design process taken over by specialist consultants, or else absorbed by design-and-build contractors. Working ever longer hours for ever lower fees, fuelling a culture of internships and temporary contracts, architects have become hopeless pawns at the mercy of their clients, their staff precariously employed with no union to support them. How can labour practices be reformed to avoid the architect's exploitation and extinction, or will an unregulated market ultimately correct itself?

Architectural Workers – campaign group | Lucy Carmichael – Director of Practice, RIBA | Harriet Harriss – Royal College of Art | Peter Morris – Allford Hall Monaghan Morris | Patrik Schumacher – Zaha Hadid Architects

Thursday 22 February, 6.30pm - BUILD

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Is procurement too bureaucratic, risk-averse and a barrier to the best design?

Stuck in a quagmire of pre-qualification questionnaires, turnover requirements and professional indemnity demands, many practices find much potential work is out of their reach. Unable to get on to framework agreements and denied the chance to design a certain type of building if they haven't built one already, architects are stuck in a hopeless catch-22 situation. Even when they are eligible, they are often forced to compete on price, rather than design quality, leading to a detrimental race to the bottom. With the cost of procurement to both clients and bidders now reaching up to 30% of a contract's value, how can these cumbersome, prohibitive systems be overhauled?

Claire Bennie – Municipal | Russell Curtis – RCKa / Project Compass | Kay Hughes – Khaa | Malcolm Reading – Malcolm Reading Consultants

2 - 3 March - LABOUR

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The Fundamentals Symposium will critically investigate architecture, education, and the building industry through the lens of ethical work practices. The Symposium concludes our ‘Fundamentals’ Debate Series for 2018 – Learn (25 January), Work (8 February), and Build (22 February) – and expands our discussion on the current work practices of our profession to international contexts, and scales, with a series of keynote speakers from Brazil, the USA and Europe. By doing so, the symposium will interrogate architecture and labour in relation to society, public policies and means of production.

The symposium is an initiative undertaken in partnership with Escola da Cidade, São Paulo, Brazil, as part of their Counter Conducts initiative, exhibition and publication. The Escola da Cidade was granted funding from fines imposed by the Ministry of Public Labor Prosecution on a Brazilian construction company, who were convicted of employing workforce akin to slavery when building the Guarulhos International Airport Terminal 3. Their Counter Conducts initiative questions and impacts the public debate regarding major infrastructure works, migration and labour, and slave-like work in the contemporary context of architecture and the building industry. As part of the Fundamentals Symposium we will host the European Book Launch for Contra Condutas, as well as an exhibition.


Friday 2 March, 1- 6pm

Architecture and Capital

Ana Carolina Tonetti and Ligia Nobre - Contra Condutas, Escola de Cidade

Adam Kaasa - Royal College of Art, Theatrum Mundi

Concrete Action 

Chair- Alex Warnock Smith, CSM

Counter-Conducts, A Political Pedagogical Action Book Launch and Drinks

Saturday 3 March, 10-6pm

Architecture’s Labour Force

Kadambari Baxi and Laura Diamond Dixit- Who Builds Your Architecture?

Precarious Workers Brigade

Shumi Bose- CSM 

Brendan Cormier

Architects as Workers

Peggy Deamer - Architecture Lobby, Yale

Reinier de Graaf - OMA

Jeremy Till- CSM

Chair: Mel Dodd - CSM

Previous lecturers

Fundamentals 2017

19 January – 23 February

Chaired by Oliver Wainwright for Spatial Practices, this series presented work related to the concerns of the programme to the school and the public - visit YouTube to watch the debates.   

Barbara Brownlee, Westminster City Council | Kareem Dayes, RUSS Community Land Trust | Amena Matin, London Borough of Croydon | Reza Merchant, The Collective |Marc Vlessing, Pocket Living
Liane Hartley, Planning in the Pub | Kate Henderson, Town and Country Planning Association | Adele Maher, London Borough of Tower Hamlets | Euan Mills, Future Cities Catapult | Finn Williams, Greater London Authority
Mark Brearley, Cass Cities | Jessica Ferm, Bartlett School of Planning, UCL | David Saxby, Architecture 00 | Christian Spencer-Davies, Camley Street Neighbourhood Forum | Paloma Strelitz, Assemble
Alex Chinneck, artist | Mark Davy, Future City | Hadrian Garrard, Create | Anna Harding, Space Studios | Verity-Jane Keefe, artist
Giles Charlton, Spacehub | Jo Gibbons, J & L Gibbons | Anna Minton, University of East London | Richard Reynolds, Guerilla Gardening | Stephen Richards, Gillespies  

The 2016/17 autumn lecture series

Alex Warnock-Smith, Urban Projects Bureau | Andreas Lang & Mara Ferreri, Notes from the Temporary City | Carolina Caicedo & Xavier Llarch Font, The Decorators Studio | Sarah Featherstone, Featherstone Young | Alicja Borkowska & Iris Papadatou, YOU&ME | Julia King, LSE Cities | Takeshi Hayatsu

The 2015/16 spring lecture series

Peter Barber, Peter Barber Architects | Helen Marriage, Artichoke | Andreas Lang, public works | Santiago Cirugeda, Recetas Urbanas | Catherine Ince, V&A East | Amanda Levete, AL_A | Jeanne van Heeswijk, Artist | Andrea Zimmerman, Artist | Antoine Picon, Harvard GSD | Verity-Jane Keefe, Artist | Mark Swenarton, University of Liverpool | Oliver Wainwright, Journalist 

The 2014/15 lecture series

Prem Krishnamurthy, P! & Project Projects | Maria Smith, Studio Weave | Ines Weizman, Bauhaus Universität, Weimar/CASS | Justin McGuirk, Radical Cities, Strelka Press | Alex Chinneck | Marjetica Potrč | Sophia Psarra, UCL, Space Syntax.

The 2013/14 lecture series

Publica (Lucy Musgrave) | (not) AOC (Daisy Froud) | Studio8 (CJ Lim) | Ooze architects (Sylvain Hartenberg & Eva Pfannes) | Nils Norman | Crimson Architectural Historians/International New Town Institute (Michelle Provoost).

The 2012/13 inaugural lecture series

5th Studio (Tom Holbrook) | Assemble | DK-CM (David Knight + Cristina Monteiro) | 00: Architects (Alistair Parvin) | muf (Liza Fior) | Spacemakers (Tom James) | Markussen/Knutz | Peter Higgins | Teddy Cruz | EXYZT | Liam Young | Doina Petrescu | Nils Norman | Something and Son | Fred Deakin.