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Do buildings shape us? And if so, could buildings then be forces of good? Does the geometry of place have any moral quality? These were some of the questions architectural critic, columnist and associate professor Elizabeth Farrelly asked the audience at her recent Utzon Lecture at the University of New South Wales: Architecture and Morality: Geometries of Virtue.
One could ask these questions not only of the individual buildings to which Farrelly refers but also of our cities generally, those great interactive collections of buildings, spaces and people, land uses and movement systems. And indeed, Alex Tzannes, head of the Faculty of the Built Environment, which hosts the lectures, introduced Farrelly in reference to her inherent advocacy of an “urbanism”, one of those concepts we struggle with here in Australia with our sub-urban myth still so prominent.
Farrelly herself talked about beauty, connectedness and enclosure as necessary criteria for all our built forms in generating and supporting such urbanism, which in turn she sees as essential to cities as “life”. And then also about how we can better integrate ourselves with and create that urban life that sustains us. […]