HCT Debates: Maria Theodorou

Organised and hosted by Marina Lathouri, John Palmesino and Douglas Spencer

Series: HCT Debates: Dis-locutions, the architectural and the political
Date: 19/2/2016
Time: 14:00:00
Venue: New Soft Room

HCT Debates: Dis-locutions, the architectural and the political

The HCT Debates provide a venue for exchange of ideas and arguments. External speakers are invited every week to present and engage with tutors and students. The aim is to position the multiple voices making possible a process of thinking in common, by definition a pedagogical practice different from the seminar or the lecture. The sessions are open to the public.


Maria Theodorou: Housing for Emancipated Wives and Bertrand Russell’s Contemplative Habit of Mind (London 1935 And 2016)

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell advocates for an architecture reform, in his “Architecture and Social Questions” essay; the 1935 text, written in between the two world wars, adds up to our historical knowledge on a particular aspect of the social housing discourse, which Russell centers on the position of woman within the family living and working arrangements. The talk goes beyond the obvious association of Russell’s text with ‘feminism’, and focuses instead on how the discussion of housing is embedded in Russell’s own distinctive conceptual framework. In fact, “Architecture and Social Questions” is one of the 15 essays gathered and published together under the telling title In Praise of idleness which advocates for “a contemplative habit of mind”. Can the revisiting of Russell’s ‘cool reflection’ provide the conceptual tools to approach the current context of London’s maddening housing provision, articulated in terms of ‘density’ and ‘scarcity’? The talk migrates Russell’s 1935 mindset to question the demand for more housing in 2016 London; Can Russell’s ‘contemplative state of mind’ serve us well in understanding a city with a growing population in which the urban impact of conflicting interests is manifested in the rich and poor widening divide but played out in terms of housing?

Maria Theodorou, PhD (AA), architect ARB/RIBA, Fulbright visiting fellow (Princeton, 2005). Maria is the director and founding member of the independent School of Architecture for All (SARCHA) and a senior lecturer at Leeds School of Architecture. Her research, publications and teaching centers on ‘architecture and the political and she is currently organizing the 6th International Conference on Architecture Competitions (ICC 2016).


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