Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi with Paul Finch, Trevor Skempton and Jack Self

STARCHITECTURE: Scenes, Actors and Spectacles in Contemporary Cities

Series: Open Seminar
Date: Friday 28 February 2014
Time: 14:00
Venue: Lecture Hall
Running time: 151 mins

Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi in discussion with Paul Finch, Trevor Skempton and Jack Self

Organised by Brian Hatton and introduced by Mark Cousins, a rich panel of scholars and opinion makers will discuss the implications of star architecture in London and beyond.

Internationally renowned architects have been at center stage, not only with reference to designing esthetically striking artifacts, but also to urban regeneration and city branding. In some cases cities seem to collect spectacular buildings as they were mere market or media products, having little regard for their context and contribution to the urban environment. The seminar draws on Davide Ponzini’s research and Michele Nastasi’s photographic work regarding European, American and Asian cities. It shows that the spectacularization of contemporary architecture is potentially inducing paradoxical and even perverse urban effects; it proposes new policy, design and visual perspectives for informing current research, debate and practice.

Davide Ponzini received his PhD (cum laude) in Urban Planning from Politecnico di Milano, where he is currently Assistant Professor of Urban Planning. His research activity focuses on planning theory, policy tool analysis, urban and cultural policy, spectacularization of contemporary architecture and the urban environment. He has been visiting scholar at Yale University, Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University, and Sciences Po Paris. His research work has been be published in international scientific journals (Cities, Urban Studies, Environment and Planning C, and others), edited books, and it has been presented in international congresses, lectures and seminars. Coauthor (with Pier Carlo Palermo) of the book Spatial Planning and Urban Development: Critical Perspectives, Springer, Dordrecht, London and New York; and coauthor of the book (with the photographer Michele Nastasi) Starchitecture. Scenes, Actors and Spectacles in Contemporary Cities, Allemandi, Turin.

Michele Nastasi is a photographer and managing editor of Lotus international. Since 2004 he has been working as a photographer in the field of architecture, urban landscape and interiors for international architectural firms and magazines, as well as developing his own research projects. His pictures have been published in journals, magazines and books, and exhibited at the Biennale di Venezia and in other personal and collective exhibitions in Italy and the USA, among which Suspended City. L’Aquila after the Earthquake of 2009. Photographs by Michele Nastasi, Wolk Gallery, MIT, Boston 2013. He co-authored, with Davide Ponzini, the book: Starchitecture. Scenes, Actors and Spectacles in Contemporary Cities (Allemandi, Turin 2011). Since 2007 he is part of the editorial staff of the magazine Lotus international, for which he has curated several publications. He teaches Architectural Photography at the School of Architecture and Society at the Politecnico di Milano.



2pm Welcome by Mark Cousins (Director of History and Theory Studies, AA)

2.05pm Introduction by Brian Hatton (Liverpool John Moores University)

2.30pm Lecture by Davide Ponzini and Michele Nastasi

3.45pm Panel Discussion:

Paul Finch (AR, AJ)

Trevor Skempton (Architect)

Jack Self


Image: Night view of the headquarters of ALDAR, a preminent developer in Abu Dhabi, designed by MZ Architects. Michele Nastasi

All lectures are open to members of the public, staff and students unless otherwise stated.

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