BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Experts in the design of the bathroom,
cybernetics in architecture and the spatial dimensions of aging
will be among speakers at "Before and Beyond: Architecture and the
User," a two-day symposium at the University at Buffalo's School of
Architecture and Planning.
The event, which features presenters from the U.S., Canada and
Europe, is free and open to the public. Panels will take place on
April 6 and 7 at 301 Crosby Hall on UB's South Campus. Directions
and a complete schedule are online at http://tinyurl.com/beforeandbeyondUB.
As its title suggests, the symposium will explore how
architecture and urban design deal with matters of use.
As Omar Khan, chair of UB's architecture department, explains,
"If we define people as users of space, it frames architecture and
urban design with specific functions, with very particular
"But if we understand space not as something to be used, but as
something that we are symbiotic with, we might come to different
conclusions," Khan said. "We don't 'use' nature. Some people would
say that the concept of the 'user' is inhumane, that it turns
people into something more mechanical."
The goal of next week's symposium, Khan said, is to question
what the concept of the "user" means in this particular moment in
time, in the early part of the 21st century, as sustainability,
pervasive computing and other forces are shaping design.
The symposium is being organized by Kenny Cupers, the School of
Architecture and Planning's 2010-11 Reyner Banham Fellow, whose
research focuses on the role of the user in modern architecture and
Teddy Cruz, the university's 2011 Clarkson Chair in
Architecture, will deliver a keynote address on April 6 titled
"Creative Acts of Citizenship: Performing Neighborhoods."
Cruz, an architect and educator who has researched the
transborder urban dynamics between San Diego, Calif., and Tijuana,
Mexico, will also lead a public discussion on April 7 titled
"Empowering Users, Empowering Architecture?"
Other presenters include Mariana Mogilevich of Harvard
University, whose talk is titled, "Opening the City: Landscape and
Participation in 1960s New York" and Barbara Penner of the
University College London, whose talk is titled, "Redesigning
Taboos: Ergonomics, Alexander Kira and the Bathroom."
Jeremy Till, dean of the University of Westminster's School of
Architecture and the Built Environment, will present the closing
keynote address: "Will the Real User Please Stand Up?"