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    Archive for the 'Built Environment' Category

    Buddhas of Suburbia: faith, migration and suburban change in London

    By Yohann K Koshy, on 11 March 2014

    If there’s one thing to take home from American film culture, from The Virgin Suicides to American Beauty, it’s that the suburbs are a place to be avoided at all costs. Replete with murderous instincts and repressed sexual desires, they are to be treated with scorn by urbanites and the few suburban refugees who manage to escape.

    Hindu goddess in gold at the Shri Kanaga Thurkkai Amman Hindu Temple

    Hindu goddess

    Perhaps this unfair reputation stems from the suburban aesthetic: when the soul is furnished by identikit architecture that presumably houses conservative cultural habits, it is unsurprising that we see the suburban subject as living a boring life, unworthy of academic reflection or investigation.

    In her Lunch Hour Lecture, Dr. Claire Dwyer (UCL Geography) rescued suburbia from this prejudicial inertia, demonstrating through an architectural, geographical and cultural comparative analysis of faith loci in Greater London that the suburbs can be a place of dynamic modernity where space is contested, deconstructed and re-mapped.

    The first half of Dr. Dwyer’s lecture focused on newly developed or proposed institutions such as the Jain Temple in Potter’s Bar, Hertfordshire and the Salaam Centre in Harrow, which show how the suburbs are on the forefront of cultural innovation. (more…)

    “Let me explain how you have changed my life…”

    By Guest Blogger, on 5 March 2014

    Provost Scholarships Reception

    Provost speaking at the reception

    pencil-iconWritten by Anastazja Grudnicka (BA History and recipient of the Sarmartian Bursary)

    On Tuesday 25 February, the North Cloisters was transformed into an elegant reception venue. The reason for this metamorphosis was the biggest Scholarships and Bursaries Reception UCL has ever hosted.

    This annual event, hosted by current scholarship and bursary recipients, celebrates the invaluable impact of philanthropy on the scholarships and bursaries programme at UCL.

    Following an introduction by Professor Michael Arthur, President and Provost of UCL, the audience of more than 150 guests, comprising donors, the recipients of the awards and UCL friends and representatives, had the pleasure to listen to speeches from both beneficiaries and benefactors. Each speaker focused on different aspects of philanthropy and what such contributions meant to them personally.

    It was incredibly inspiring to hear from the scholarship and bursary recipients themselves.  Although all three student speakers came from different backgrounds and faced obstacles of their own, they all shared a sense of gratitude for the support received.

    (more…)

    Greening the recovery: the report of the UCL Green Economy Policy Commission

    By Henry Rummins, on 27 February 2014

    gepc1

    “We need to recognise the fierce urgency of now,” declared Professor Paul Ekins at the opening of the launch of the UCL Green Economy Policy Commission’s Greening the recovery report, in what appeared to be the beginning of an impassioned rallying cry for a radical overhaul of the UK’s economy.

    Instead, Professor Ekins pointed out that this was a soundbite uttered by the Chancellor George Osborne five years ago.

    By repeating it, his aim was to sound a note of caution about the likelihood that the recommendations by UCL’s Green Economy Policy Commission – comprising a range of UCL, visiting, and external academics – would be adopted.

    This was despite the fact that the panel of experts brought together to discuss the report all broadly agreed that its objective of a greener economy was laudable, even if they didn’t agree on how to get there.

    (more…)

    Back to the future: climate change lessons from the Pliocene era

    By Yohann K Koshy, on 17 February 2014

    Of the many clichés passed from generation to generation, “You must understand your past in order to understand your future” is both the most intuitively correct and consistently ignored.

    Too often the historian’s excavation of the past is considered to be of merely academic interest rather than a stark warning about the social, political and economic conditions that can re-enable historic calamities.

    Dr Chris Brierly (UCL Geography), who delivered the Lunch Hour Lecture on 13 February, is pursuing historical research to help us comprehend our past and possibly safeguard our future from devastation.

    V0023203 An ideal landscape of the Pliocene period with elephants, hiInstead of looking back 100 years at Franz Ferdinand’s assassination, Brierly looks back 5 million years, when the world was curiously similar yet significantly different to the one we inhabit today.

    Brierly explained how his research concentrates on mapping the tropical climate of the Pliocene epoch, which began around 5 million years ago and ended 2.6 million years ago.

    Just like the present, the Pliocene world was both warm and cool: grassland expanded and ice-caps accumulated. It did, however, have a structurally different tropical sea climate.

    (more…)