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Preview: RIBA Research Symposium

The 2010 RIBA Research Symposium has been announced, and it will take place on 23 September at Portland Place in London. Last year’s lively and diverse programme was entitled Changing Practices. This year, practices have duly been changed, and the theme is back on safe high architecture territory with the theme Does Beauty Matter?

Booked speakers include John Andrews, Irena Bauman, Tom Bolton, John Calcutt, Sue Clifford, Sarah Featherstone, Eric Parry and Pam Warhurst. The afternoon’s keynote speaker will be John Gummer, former Conservative MP and now member of the House of Lords. His speaking engagements cover most of the second letter of the alphabet: beauty, BSE, beef-burgers…

RIBA Research Symposium 2010: Does Beauty Matter?

The fifth annual RIBA Research Symposium will address one of the basic principles of architecture: beauty. It is both a universal good and an enduring source of controversy, but what does it really mean?

Architecture is often judged on its success in creating beauty, yet beauty can also be a slipper, uncomfortable and divisive subject. As a society we are uneasy about discussing beauty, both on an individual and a professional level. The word rarely features in modern political discourse, and the concept can be dismissed as arbitrary, subjective, unnecessary, unaffordable, or elitist. Debates purporting to be about the beauty of the built environment often turn out, on closer inspection, to be about style, taste or political symbolism.

So how can beauty be both understood and applied? Do beauty and wealth go hand in hand, and if so why? Do we need our places to be more beautiful, and what would happen if they were? Can we value beauty, measure it or define its role in policy?

Can anyone hoping to be taken seriously argue in favour of beauty? And what is the responsibility of the architect?

The symposium will tackle the significance and function of beauty today. Delegates will debate with architects, developers, community activists and politicians, informed by new research. High profile contributors will bring their varied perspectives to bear on the future of beauty, and the implications of beauty in our society.

Further info and booking here. I hope to attend, but there’s something from Pony Pie in the oven in Glasgow that week that I cannot miss either. Academic sugar daddies with air miles please apply within.

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