The City is a Thinking Machine

Marking the Centenary of Patrick Geddes’s Cities in Evolution

detail from a plan of Freudenstadt from Geddes's collectionLamb Gallery, Tower Building, University of Dundee

17 October – 12 December 2015

Mon-Fri 09.30-19.00 Sat 13.00-17.00

An exhibition of material drawn from the Geddes Archives, much of it never seen before, plus current work by affiliates of the Geddes Institute for Urban Research.

Patrick Geddes, the polymathic Scottish planner and Professor of Botany at University College Dundee, published his seminal text Cities in Evolution in 1915, to accompany his Cities Exhibitions which he showed around the world. To celebrate the centenary, this new exhibition has been organised by the Geddes Institute for Urban Research at the University of Dundee, with a grant from the Carnegie Trust. It features Geddes’s original plans and diagrams, drawn from the Archives at the Universities of Dundee, Edinburgh, and Strathclyde; along with recent architecture and planning projects by affiliates of the Geddes Institute. The exhibition aims to evaluate Geddes’s thinking for the 21st century.

Activism in the Built Environment - Events Programme

Accompanying this exhibition is a programme of three evening events. Each begins at 6pm with a guest lecture in the D’Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre, followed by an informal discussion in the Lamb Gallery.

Theme 1: Activism in the Built Environment: Architecture

Wed 28 October, 6-7.30pm

Mark Hackett: Belfast trajectories – restitching the city

Mark Hackett is a Belfast-based architect specialising in building, research and urban design. As a director in City Reparo and a founding director in Forum for Alternative Belfast (both multi-disciplinary research and advocacy groups) he has authored architectural research projects on the divided city of Belfast. With Hackett Hall McKnight, he is the architect of the award-winning MAC Arts Centre. He won the UK and Ireland ‘Young Architect of the Year Award’ in 2008. 

Theme 2: Activism in the Built Environment: Media

Wed 18 November, 6-7.30pm

Mike Small: Geddes and the 5th Estate - publishing, citizenship and cultural insurgency

Mike Small is the editor of Bella Caledonia, a columnist for the Guardian, and a lecturer in Food Citizenship as part of the UNESCO Chair of Sustainable Development & Territory Management at the University of Torino. He founded the Fife Diet local eating experiment which aims to re-localise food production and distribution in response to globalisation and climate change. He worked with the anarchist ecologist Murray Bookchin, and has published widely on Geddes.

Paul Guzzardo - A Septic Turn in the Space of Appearance: A Brief for the City with Elites in Decline

Paul Guzzardo is a Fellow at the Geddes Institute for Urban Research. He is a media activist, designer, and lawyer based in St Louis and Buenos Aires. He maps the devolving state of the American public sphere. He has published papers in Urban Design Journal and AD: architectural design, and co-authored with Michael Sorkin and Mario Correa Displaced: Llonch+Vidalle Architecture. His installations and theatre pieces have been exhibited and performed the US and the UK. His lecture will focus on the role of digital media in collective consciousness.

Theme 3: Activism in the Built Environment: Planning

Wed 9 December, 6-7.30pm

Greg Lloyd: The demise of strategic planning (again and yet again)

Greg Lloyd is Emeritus Professor of Planning at Ulster University. He has researched and published widely on all aspects of planning, with a particular focus on national, strategic and city-regional planning. Drawing on some forty years in adademia, Greg will take the long-view of strategic planning in Scotland, tracing the evolution of Geddes’ city-regional thinking and imagining its future incarnation in light of the Scottish Government’s 2015 review of land use planning. 

Gordon Reid: TAYplan: City-regionalism in practice

A graduate from Town and Regional Planning at the University of Dundee, Gordon Reid is Team Leader for Development Plans & Regeneration at Dundee City Council. A seasoned practitioner, Gordon has direct experience of the evolution of city-regional planning policy and practice in the Tay Valley region. Reflecting on his experiences, Gordon will discuss how strategic planning has evolved and what can be learned from wider community and stakeholder engagement in regional planning.


In addition, there will be a series of satellite events tying in to the exhibition theme, including:


Abertay Historical Society

Patrick Geddes: Cities in Evolution

Wed 11 November, 6.30-7.30pm in Lecture Theatre 2, Dalhousie Building

Featuring short talks by Matthew Jarron, Lorens Holm & Deepak Gopinath


Town & Regional Planning Lecture

Fri 20 November, 2-4pm in T4, Tower Building

Dr Ian Wight, University of Manitoba: The Evolutionary Spirit at Work in Patrick Geddes


Dundee Conservation Lecture Series

Tues 24 November, 6-9pm in D'Arcy Thompson Lecture Theatre, Tower Building

Dr Margaret Stewart, University of Edinburgh: City Vistas: Lord Mar’s plans for London, Paris and Edinburgh in the 1720s
Prof Michael Hebbert, Bartlett UCL: Thinking versus action: Patrick Geddes's conservation paradox


Four publications have been produced accompanying the project - read them online at the Geddes Institute website.


Image courtesy of Archives & Special Collections, University of Strathclyde

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