Buzz: what is it and why you need more

As well as getting excited about new university buildings, we need to think with care about the activities that fill these buildings. It’s the interactions between people that create innovation, not simply new buildings.  Earlier this year I was asked to visit a university-led knowledge district that looked great on its website. The homepage presented a…

Nonsense: finding a role for the illogical on university campuses

Traditionally, university campuses are realms of quiet reason; they are ordered and elegant environments. Facades of classical columns or polished minimalist constructions reinforce this pleasant, “academic” atmosphere. However, campuses are with surprisingly frequency places of revelry and anarchy too – and for good reason. Shouldn’t campus architecture engage with the wild, disruptive aspects of university…

Private ambitions: what more can universities do to ensure their buildings contribute to cities?

The best opportunities for architects to express their skills and challenge the possibilities of built form are provided today not by the Church or the State – but by universities. Unlike cathedrals, museums or railway stations, university buildings tend to be private, shielding both brilliant ideas and brilliant architecture from a wider public. Whilst it’s…

Going Wild With Ideas

The wild trend is everywhere today, from wild swimming to foraging for food in the wild. Wild thinking has a place amongst this revival, delighting us and reminding us of our natural creative abilities.   Over the past year I have visited some highly intelligent fields. In the midst of thickly woven hedgerows and weather-worn sheep,…

Smart but unfair? Economic divides in knowledge cities seem sharper than elsewhere

Data on income inequalities in American cities released last month by the Brookings Institute makes uncomfortable reading for those of us who trumpet the emergence of “knowledge cities” as a sustainable solution for our future prosperity. The Brookings Institute gathered data on income distributions from America’s largest 50 cities, comparing the income of those on…