The City is a Thinking Machine is a research project bringing together in an exhibition, Geddes’ collection of city plans with his thinking and lecture notes. The exhibition also includes projects by eight practices affiliated with the Geddes Institute at the University of Dundee. Affiliates include members of the academic and professional communities from Scotland and abroad, and include artists, architects, and the Local and Strategic Planning Authorities. Our aim is to demonstrate the continuing significance of the thought on cities and society by polymathic Scottish planner and botanist Patrick Geddes. The city plans were drawn from Geddes’ touring Cities Exhibition, most of which have not been brought to the public view since the Outlook Tower closed in 1949. The lecture notes include his ‘thinking machine’ diagrams, drawn on folded paper, which trace the linked evolution of civic society and the places they build to live well in them. Most of the diagrams have not, to our knowledge, been exhibited or published before, nor have they been seen together with the plans. The project included a public lecture program whose aim was to contextualise the work represented in the exhibition. The project marks the centenary of the publication of Geddes’ Cities in Evolution (1915).
The project was run by Deepak Gopinath, Lorens Holm, and Matthew Jarron at the University of Dundee, with strong visual assistance from Cameron McEwan (catalogue) and Tracey Dixon (website). Photographs of the opening are by Cameron McEwan. Photographs of the exhibition and the exhibition materials are by Tracey Dixon. The exhibition was curated by Lorens Holm, in the Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee, under the directorship of Matthew Jarron.
The project catalogue is in four volumes.
Volume 1 The Exhibition - documents the exhibition and includes reproductions of the 10 explanatory panels from the exhibition, a transcript of the gallery talk at the opening, plus 5 interpretative texts by Lorens Holm.
Volume 2 The Geddes Archives - reproduces the Geddes documents borrowed from the archives of the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, and Strathclyde, and includes our interpretative caption notes. We have not sought copyright permission for reproducing these images.
Volume 3 The Geddes Institute - reproduces the panels by the 8 affiliates of the Geddes Institute whose projects were included in the exhibition, plus the introductory panels that accompanied each project.
Volume 4 The Talks - documents the program of public lectures that contextualised the exhibition. The contributors were chosen because each – in different ways – has been an activist for change in the social and material environments of the city. Geddes was nothing if not an activist. This volume includes 10 texts with images plus an introductory statement on activism and advocacy.