LSBU Sustainability conference on now, featuring Creativity research

London South Bank University (LSBU) has an event on this week called “Sustainability and Climate Action Events Series – Carbon, Climate, Energy and Resources” (for info and registration click here).

As I’m a Visiting Professor at LSBU, supervising Ph.D. student Thomas Empson who is one of the organizers of this event, I’m one of many in attendance. Thomas studies the role of creativity in creating sustainable design solutions. He looks at engineering and architecture. Thomas is also LSBU’s Sustainability Project Manager.

I’m so proud to be this researcher’s Ph.D. supervisor. He, Shushma Patel, and I have made an excellent team.

The week-long event kicked off earlier today and Thomas delivered an insightful presentation on his Ph.D. research on “Enabling Enterprising Engineers” and featuring work by HKS architects and Enfinffers for Overseas Development (EFOD).

Thomas Empson delivering welcomes, introductions, and cutting-edge research.

Thomas’ Ph.D. research project is coming together beautifully and he will be presenting his viva (=defending his dissertation) in August. We got a sneak preview today! This event, the LSBU Provost, Professor Pat Bailey, told us at the 9.30am Welcome and Introduction is the largest online event that LSBU has ever hosted. Thomas is one of the two main organizers for this LSBU conference. He’s done this alongside his research work.

As I’m working on various projects throughout the day (including our own online EER Meet Up for tomorrow afternoon), I’ve tuned in and out of the LSBU event. However, I was there “with bells on” for the 11.30am session led by Thomas!

The topic was “Creating Sustainable Development: Measuring the positive ecological, economic and social impact of the Katchumbala Maternity Unit.” Thomas presented his research and then hosted two high-profile panelists: Dan Flower, a Design Director for HKS Architects, and his dad, Ian Flower OBE and Founder of Engineers for Overseas Development (EFOD).

Thomas has been studying aspects of creativity and (environmental, social and economic) sustainability. He has evaluated several case study projects to assess creative practices, processes, outputs, and impacts. The case study he showed today was for the Katchumbala Maternity Unit in Uganda.

Thomas hosted two high-powered designer/activists who made this hospital a reality. It’s a father-son duo with an engineer dad and architect son.

The Hospital generated many positive environmental, social, and economic benefits.

There were also benefits ot the organizations involved:

Thomas has studied creativity within this project and has created a number of really helpful and useful models for assessing sustainable creativity. I’ll share those models with you later, as they are a significant contribution to the knowledge base and have been tested through empirical research.

Today, the audience got a sneak peek at these models and won’t have to wait until Thomas’ viva.

LSBU has loads of interesting sessions planned for the week–why not join in to learn more?

Exploring Material Ethics

A progress review in Patrick’s 4th year studio at the DIT. Patrick, Shannon, and Connor are clearly captivated by this student’s presentation.

I asked the architecture students to tell me what interested them most from the lecture on Materials that I gave today in the studio coordinated by Patrick Flynn.  They said Dave Chance’s images!

I’d been asked to talk about materials in a way that would help students with designing schools.  So I started by downloading pages from Dave’s website.  He travels the world photographing materials in relation to light.

To prepare for this lecture I also attended a review of the class’s proposed designs last Friday.  Patrick invited me as a guest critic, but my primary goal was to find out how I could tailor today’s presentation to their needs and interests.

A slide using Dave Chance’s photograph from the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. (Copyright Dave Chance Photography.)

I decided to present my thoughts using: (1) Dave’s images to provide inspiration and (2) images of schools as a tool for conveying more pragmatic content.

I structured the talk around themes of Material Ethics, Teaching Capacity of materials, the need to Generate Knowledge regarding materials, Authenticity, and Sustainability.  I titled it “How an Architect’s Material Palette Can Enhance Student Learning” with the subheading “Cultivating an Ethics of Materiality.”