Sensory Cities: New Methods and Approaches for Research, Planning, Design and Curation

Date and time
24 March 2017

10.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m.

London Metropolitan University, The Wash Houses, Old Castle Street, London E1 7NT

Sensory Cities: New Methods and Approaches for Research, Planning, Design and Curation

Urban Salon is a co-supporter of this international conference bringing together academics and urban professionals, from museum curators to architects and urban planners, to discuss how to research, create and represent sensory urban experiences.

As cities are not only driving economic forces in Europe but crucial entities for providing a sense of place in a globalising world, it is important to examine the role of the senses in place-making and attachments. This final conference of the AHRC funded international research network “Sensory Cities: researching, representing and curating sensory-emotional landscapes of urban environments” (2015-2017) shares our key findings from the project, drawing on the experience of three cities that are exemplar for different forms of urban regeneration: London, Cologne and Barcelona.

A range of cross-disciplinary, cross-European and cross-professional panels will discuss: What can academics and urban professionals interested in the senses learn from each other’s methodological approaches? How can sensory methods help museums to discuss a city’s past, present and future? How can the senses inform urban design in an ethical way? What structures can enable a participatory approach?

In the evening there will be a launch of the sensory digital think-kit developed through the discussions and experimental methods trialled across three cities to research the sensory geography of place.

Places are free but need to be reserved.

Imagining infrastructures

Date and time
6 March 2017
6.00-7.30 p.m. (GMT)

Centre Building Room CBG.1.06
London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE

Imagining infrastructure

The modern usage of the term infrastructure has gone through a series of permutations from early emphasis on logistics, organization, and the expanding scope of technological networks to more recent interest in the intersections with landscape, ecology, and alternative theorisations of urban materiality. In this event we will explore questions relating to the meaning and conceptualisation of urban infrastructures. The question of infrastructure will serve as an entry point for wider reflections on the changing experience of nature, modernity, and urban space.

This event is a collaboration with the British Academy.


Dr Jiat-Hwee Chang, Assistant Professor, Department of Architecture, National University of Singapore

Professor Dr Jochen Monstadt
, Chair for Governance of Urban Transitions and Dynamics, Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning, Utrecht University

Dr Manuel Tironi, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, P. Universidad Católica de Chile

Professor Jane Wolff, Associate Professor, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto



Professor Matthew Gandy FBA, Professor of Cultural and Historical Geography, University of Cambridge

FREE. Registration required.

Vertical: The City from Satellites to Tunnels

Date and time
28 February 2017
6.00-7.30 p.m.

King’s College London, Strand Campus, Pyramid Room, King’s Building, London WC2R 2LS (View map)

Vertical: The City from Satellites to Tunnels

Urban Salon hosts the book launch of Vertical: The City from Satellites to Tunnels (Verso, 2017), the new publication by Professor Stephen Graham (Newcastle University).

In this event the author will explore the reimagining of the cities we live in, the air above us, and what goes on in the earth beneath our feet. He examines how the geography 
of urban inequality, politics, and identity is determined in terms of above and below starting at the edge of earth’s atmosphere and descending through each vertical layer to the design of sidewalks and underground bunkers.


Professor Phil Hubbard (King’s College London)

Dr Hyun Shin (London School of Economics)


Date and time
11 February 2017
5.00-7.00 p.m. (GMT)

Bloomsbury Theatre Studio, 15 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AH


In collaboration with the UCL Urban Laboratory, and hosted at the Bloomsbury Theatre Studio, we present a production of #haters, a spoken-word narrative-theatre play by Odd Eyes Theatre, looking at how “gentrification” in the name of urban regeneration is changing the cultural landscape of the UK.

The play will be followed by a panel considering the value of performativity in discussing gentrification issues and representation and social class in gentrifying London.


June 2014, London. A stab, a tweet and a social-media storm rip the sultriness of the hottest summer on record since 1976.

Two young heroes, worlds apart, gravitate towards each other against the will of alluring internet chimeras. Two epic journeys set out in the storm of urban regeneration. Will their hands touch?

Inspired by real events #Haters tells about “hipsters”, “roadmen” and social-media chimeras digging out the real people beyond the stereotypes. It’s about opportunities, fate and values told with a good dose of self-irony and with extreme compassion for the characters involved. It’s about the housing crisis and a world that changed suddenly right before your eyes, of which you could only bear witness.

Expect spoken words and live music, beats and outlandish sounds provoked by verbatim social-media text. Expect bitter-sweet humour, tenderness and compassion. Expect to change your mind.

Written and directed by Emilia Teglia. #Haters is funded by Arts Council England.


A small ticketing fee will cover venue costs and avoid no-shows. Donations towards the production will be welcome at the end of the evening.


Further links:

Arts Council England
Odd Eyes Theatre 

Timescapes of Urban Change: : London – Barcelona, a regeneration comparison

Date and time
Tuesday 29 November 2016
6.30-8.15 PM (GMT)

UCL Harrie Massey Lecture Theatre, 25 Gordon Street, London WC1H 0AY

Time and space lie at the centre of discussions on urban redevelopment projects. The making of urban space is in many ways a materialisation of the passing of time socially, financially, and politically. Yet, those using the city inhabit and create a diversity of temporalities. Hence, urban change is underpinned by a multiplicity of temporal narratives, practices and ideologies which operate at different speeds and intensities, sometimes converging, other times conflicting, to produce a particular sense of place.

Focusing on two cities that are exemplars of their urban regeneration in recent years: Barcelona and London, this event will bring together urban professionals and academics to reflect, from a long-term perspective, on the role of time in the construction and experience of these two cities. By doing this, we hope to situate questions around temporality at the forefront of the research agenda on urban change.

View the programme here.



  • Simone Abram (Anthropology, Durham University): “Anticipation and Apprehension: temporal agency in urban change”
  • Mari Paz Balibrea (Department of Cultures and Languages, Birkbeck): “Militant time, leisure time, working time: Reflections on life in the creative city”
  • Carme Gual Via (Foment Ciutat Vella, Barcelona City Council): “As time goes by…or how cities reinvent the wheel every term of office”
  • Euan Mills (Future Cities Catapult): “How should temporal considerations affect the design of the built environment?”
  • Bob Allies (Allies and Morrison Architects): “The urban masterplan: a process not a product”
  • Mike Raco (The Bartlett, UCL): “Living in democratic times: Reflections on the transformation of London’s built environment”

This is the first of a two-part conference, with the second taking place at the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona on 12 and 13 December. Both events will be streamed live online and there will be opportunities for those not in attendance to participate in the discussions and pose questions. More information on the live stream soon.

The event is part of Dr. Monica Degen’s research project Timescapes of Urban Change, supported by a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship.

RSVP via Eventbrite:

Cities in the BRICS: What are we comparing?

Date and time
Friday 11 November 2016
2-4 PM (GMT)

UCL Pearson Building, Room G07, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT 

Cities in the BRICS: What are we comparing


Yan Yang and Philip Harrison (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)


Fulong Wu (Bartlett School of Planning, UCL)

The term BRIC was used initially in an analytical sense to refer to a grouping of countries beyond the West with the potential to reconfigure the geography of the global economy. After 2009 however it referred to a political alliance with geopolitical intentions (with BRIC becoming BRICS when South Africa joined in 2010). The construct is under pressure in terms of its analytical and political use as BRICS economies have become increasingly differentiated in terms of economic performance and as severe diplomatic tensions have emerged within the alliance.

In this seminar we discuss ongoing comparative work on cities in the BRICS, a grouping of countries that account for nearly 40% of the world’s total urban population. With the enormous diversity of the BRICS in almost all categories – including scale, economic performance, levels and rates of urbanisation, income and governance – questions arise over the meaning and purpose of comparison. We discuss the challenge of comparison but nevertheless show how very different places can be drawn into a meaningful comparative conversation. There is however a significant point of commonality. All countries in the BRICS have experienced far-reaching political and/or economic transformations over the past few decades in a way that the global West has not.

In the presentation we show how these macro changes have been translated into urban change, but also show how differences in the national and local management of these processes account in part for significant differences (and similarities) across the BRICS in terms of urban outcomes. We use the different trajectories of metropolitan governance as an illustrative case. 

No booking required, just turn up. For further information, contact Jenny Robinson.

In Defense of Housing

Date and time
25 October 2016
6.30-8 PM GMT

PAR.2.03, Parish Building, London School of Economics, London WC2A 2AE

In Defense of Housing


Dr David MaddenProfessor Peter Marcuse (via Skype)


Dr Melissa Fernandez Arrigoitia, Dr Suzanne Hall, Dr Paul Watt


Dr Hyun Bang Shin

Housing is one of the most pressing urban issues of our time. In this event marking the publication of their book In Defense of Housing, Peter Marcuse and David Madden explore the causes and consequences of the housing problem and detail the need for progressive alternatives. They argue that the housing crisis has deep political, social, and economic roots and will not be solved by minor policy shifts. As a critical response, they explore the potential of a radical right to housing.

David Madden (@davidjmadden) is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Cities Programme at the LSE.

Peter Marcuse is Professor of Urban Planning at Columbia University.

Melissa Fernandez Arrigoitia is Lecturer in Urban Futures at Lancaster University.

Suzanne Hall (@SuzanneHall12) is an urban ethnographer and Director of the LSE Cities Programme.

Paul Watt is Reader in Urban Studies at Birkbeck, University of London.

Hyun Bang Shin (@urbancommune) is Associate Professor of Geography and Urban Studies at the LSE and an organising member of the Urban Salon.

Book launch: Moth

Date and time
8 June 2016
6.30-8 PM GMT

Stoke Newington Bookshop, 159 Stoke Newington High St, London N16 0NY 

Book launch: Moth

Inspired by the plants and animals found in marginal spaces and wastelands, Matthew Gandy has written a new book, Moth. This book forms part of the Reaktion Animal series which weaves together aspects of science with cultural history.  Labelled as “wonderfully idiosyncratic” by The New York Times, the Animal series offers a novel approach to exploring the historical significance of various animals. Matthew’s book focuses on the moth: long associated with darkness and the gothic imagination, yet significant in a myriad of other ways, from silk production to sensitive indicators of environmental change.

“The rich history of vernacular names speaks to the significant place of moths in early cultures of nature: names such as the Merveille du Jour, the Green-brindled Crescent and the Clifden Nonpareil evoke a sense of wonder that connects disparate fields such as folklore, the history of place and early scientific texts, ” Matthew writes.

Manufacturing Gesellschaft: Urbanized Nature and the Green Screen

Date and time
Thursday 2 June 2016
2.30-4 PM GMT

G07, Pearson Building, UCL Department of Geography, London, WC1E 6BT

Manufacturing Gesellschaft: Urbanized Nature and the Green Screen 

Dr Hillary Angelo, University of California, Santa Cruz

This talk offers a sociological account of urban greening: the normative practice of using nature to fix problems with urbanism. Through a historical comparison of greening practices at three moments of major urban restructuring in Germany’s Ruhr Valley, I find that urbanization made nature into a tool for manufacturing Gesellschaft, or ideal urban society, and that a social imaginary of nature as a vehicle for social goods, which I call urbanized nature, makes greening practices possible. In addition, the comparison reveals that greening operates with characteristic social logics. While spatializing very particular ideals of bourgeois urban publics, nature’s “green screen” allows protagonists to carry out greening projects as universally beneficial investments in the public good, and conditions audiences to respond in kind.

Dr. Hillary Angelo is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California Santa Cruz. Her work explores the relationship between ideas about nature and urbanization processes from historical, theoretical, and ethnographic perspectives. She is currently preparing a book on urban “greening” in Germany’s Ruhr region, and is at work on two new projects: one on infrastructure and sociology (with Craig Calhoun), and the other on equity in urban sustainability planning. Recent publications include “From the city lens toward urbanisation as a way of seeing: Country/city binaries on an urbanising planet” (Urban Studies 2016) and “Urbanizing urban political ecology: A critique of methodological cityism” (IJURR 2015, with David Wachsmuth).

Theorising urban studies on/from China/Asia

Date and time
21 April 2016
5.30-7.30 PM GMT

Room G07, UCL Pearson Building, London WC1E 6BT (See UCL Maps)

Urban Development by Project: Comparative Perspectives


  • Richard Ballard, Romain Dittgen, Phil Harrison, Mike Makwela, Alison Todes (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg)
  • Stan Majoor (University of Amsterdam)
  • Gilles Pinson (Sciences Po, Bordeaux)


  • Fulong Wu


  • Jenny Robinson

This seminar is associated with the beginning of a new ESRC Urban Transformations funded comparative study of large scale urban development projects in London, Johannesburg and Shanghai – Governing the Future City.

There will be drinks and snacks after the seminar, to provide an opportunity for informal discussion and networking.


Conflicting spatial visions: mega projects in Johannesburg, South Africa

Richard Ballard, Romain Dittgen, Philip Harrison, Mike Makwela & Alison Todes (University of the Witwatersrand)

The City of Johannesburg in South Africa is located within a complex set of inter-governmental relations, and also within the temporal framing of declining state coherence and political factionalism. Over the past few years distinctive and competing urban spatial visions have evolved within the Metropolitan City of Johannesburg and the Gauteng Provincial Government which governs a city-region which includes Johannesburg. Within the city administration a vision has cohered which draws largely on conceptions of the compact city, urban densification and transit-oriented development. In the provincial government, however, the vision is of large-scale urban expansion, with large new residential investments beyond the existing urban edge, and especially in areas of vulnerable or declining economies. The paper explains the emergence of these competing visions before exploring the ways in which the divide is revealed through large scale mega projects. The first project, Modderfontein, is on the spatial edge of Johannesburg although it is centrally located within the city-region. It is the site of a major private investment by a Shanghai-based developer, Zendai Properties. It has been welcomed enthusiastically by provincial government but has received a more ambiguous reception from city government, which has been involved in complex negotiations with the developers and Zendai’s London-based consultants. The Corridors of Freedom, by contrast, is a flagship initiative of the city government which is viewed warily by provincial government. It is an attempt to stitch together the fragmented apartheid city through densification (mainly) along the routes of the new Bus Rapid Transit System. Both developments reveal an entanglement of competing state and private interests, and both have uncertain futures which relate in part to market conditions but also to a fluid political context.

Urban Megaprojects as journeys in a changing landscape

Dr. Stan Majoor (Professor Coordination of Urban Issues, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences)

Their long trajectory of decision-making and execution makes urban megaprojects particularly prone to the effects of changing political, economic, technical and social conditions. We claim therefore that it is crucial to take a dynamic perspective on urban megaproject delivery, with a focus on how political and economic parameters and actor-constellations evolve over the stages of a project delivery lifecycle. Successful megaprojects have the capacity to use this turbulence in a positive way to change and adapt programmatically and organizationally. This lecture critically analyses three contemporary urban megaprojects, Amsterdam Zuidas (the Netherlands), Copenhagen Ørestad (Denmark) and Melbourne Docklands (Australia) that not only faced extensive turbulence, but also initiated strategies during their delivery phase to change and adapt.

Governing by Project

Gilles Pinson (Sciences Po, Bordeaux)

Abstract to follow