Grant for urban environmental history project

A series of symposia that laid the foundations for modern environmentally aware building and urban design will be the focus of a research project awarded £43,442 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Dr Mantha Zarmakoupi of the Department of Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology will work with Dr Simon Richards of the School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering, University of Loughborough, on the ‘Delos Network’.

Delos NetworkFirst Delos Symposion in 1963. View of the Theatre District on Delos as the participants reach the ancient theatre, where the Delos Symposia concluded. Constantinos A. Doxiadis Archives, Photographs, File 34172, no. 496. © Constantinos and Emma Doxiadis Foundation.

It will look at the history and legacy of the Delos Symposia, a series of 12 symposia that ran from 1963 to 1975. They represented the first coordinated attempt to apply environmental design solutions to architecture and planning problems on a global scale. 

The two-year project will bring together an international network of scholars, architects and planners to re-interrogate the history and legacy of the symposia, which were organised by the Greek architect-planner Contantinos Doxiadis in collaboration with the British planner Jacqueline Tyrwhitt.

Urban design solutions were sought in the classical past, for example ancient Greek cities as prototypes for future cities, as well as in new construction, communication and machine technologies. They attracted the foremost intellectuals, scientists and practitioners of the day, laying the foundations for the United Nations ‘Habitat’ agenda. 

The Delos Network project will be an opportunity to not only better understand the significance of the symposia but also to address how the Delos debates compare with and feed into contemporary concerns about demographic pressures and environmental sustainability, and their relation to historical precedents by architects, planners and others.

It will also connect researchers and practitioners in history, architecture and planning with key stakeholders from professional architecture, architectural education, built environment policy and grassroots organisations currently exploring the intersections of design, environmental concerns and historical continuity.

Three workshops are planned – Birmingham (March 2018), Athens (September 2018), and Loughborough (March 2019). There will also be an edited collection of essays. For details of the project or to get involved, please contact Mantha (M.Zarmakoupi@bham.ac.uk) or Simon directly (S.Richards@lboro.ac.uk) and visit the project’s website.