Little Atoms Live: What’s behind the Built Environment?

Posted on October 24, 2011 by


This was the first in a series of events at the Bishopsgate Institute curated by Little Atoms under the theme Whose Mind is it Anyway?

The modernist architecture espoused by communism explicitly promoted the ethos of collective living. It could also be argued that shopping centres encourage you to shop, parks persuade you to linger, local shops enhance communities and gated buildings create restrictions. So are we more directed by what surrounds us than we think? This discussion explores the affect of urban building and design on our lives and questions whether there are motivations behind it.

Chair: Neil Denny


Anna Minton is a writer and journalist and the author of ‘Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty-First Century City‘. She spent a decade in journalism, including a stint on The Financial Times, and is the winner of five national journalism awards. She is the author of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Viewpoint on fear and distrust and is currently working on a new chapter of ‘Ground Control’, focusing on the Olympics, which will be published in a new edition in January 2012.

 The idea for ‘Ground Control’ emerged from a series of three agenda setting reports. The first focused on gated communities and ghettoes in the US, questioning to what extent these trends are emerging in the UK. The second, ‘Northern Soul’, looked at polarisation and culture in one British city, Newcastle, and the third, ‘What kind of World Are We Building?’ investigated the growing privatisation of public space.

Professor Alan Penn is the Dean of the Bartlett faculty of the Built Environment at UCL. He was the founding Chair of the RIBA’s Research and Innovation Committee, and served in that role until 2006

He was the lead academic on the £5m  Urban Buzz: Building Sustainable Communities  knowledge exchange programme which promoted more sustainable forms of urban development and intensification in London and the greater South East Region of the UK

Alan was also a founding director of  Space Syntax Ltd, Space Syntax has Space Syntax is a theory of architecture and town planning, and Space Syntax Ltd has developed a set of advanced software tools that evaluate the role of spatial layout in shaping patterns of human behaviour.

Jonathan Meades has written and performed in some sixty television shows on predominantly topographical subjects such as self-built shacks, the utopian avoidance of right angles, the lure of vertigo, the architecture of Hitler and Stalin, and the everyday surrealism of Belgium: certain of these are available on ‘ The Jonathan Meades Collection’ DVD. A series on France which is unknown to most Britons (and many French) will be transmitted early in 2012.

Jonathan is the author of several books including three works of fiction – Filthy English, Pompey and The Fowler Family Business – and two anthologies of journalism; Peter knows What Dick Likes, and Incest and Morris Dancing.

His next book will be published by Unbound, an experiment in crowd-funded publishing. It’s a collection of essays entitled Museum without Walls. Subscribe at .

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