Why cities look the way they do Professor Richard J Williams, University of Edinburgh
CURB Seminar Series
Why do cities look the way they do? Is it design? Or is it the interaction of largely unconscious processes about which we can do very little? And if the latter, how should we think about our own interactions with cities? This talk explores these questions in relation to the book of the same title, published by Polity Press in 2019. Richard discusses its disciplinary origins in art history and some of the intended targets, as well as historical models for doing the work; it also explores the way the project drew (or tried to draw) on social science models, along with some reflection on the current state of writing about cities. It also explains why Venice is such a problem, and why the Burleys Flyover in Leicester is really all right.
About the speaker
Professor Richard J Williams
Richard J Williams is Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures at the University of Edinburgh, where he was all until recently head of the School of History of Art. His highly interdisciplinary work focuses on architecture and urban design, with particular interests in what happens to buildings after they have been built, as well as their visual representation. He has worked extensively on these questions in the USA and Brazil. His books include The Anxious City (2004), Brazil: Modern Architectures in History (2009), Sex and Buildings (2013), The Architecture of Art History (with Mark Crinson, 2018), and most recently Why Cities Look the Way They Do (2019). He is currently writing an intellectual biography of the architectural critic and provocateur Reyner Banham.