29 January 2020
Time: 4:00 - 7:00pm
Venue: Room 313, Third Floor, School of Law, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS
The Centre for Law and Society in a Global Context is delighted to be hosting an interdisciplinary symposium on Professor Timothy Hyde’s new book, Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye (Princeton University Press, 2019).
When buildings are deemed ugly, what are the consequences? In Ugliness and Judgment, Timothy Hyde considers the role of aesthetic judgment—and its concern for ugliness—in architectural debates and their resulting social effects across three centuries of British architectural history. From eighteenth-century ideas about Stonehenge to Prince Charles’s opinions about the National Gallery, Hyde uncovers a new story of aesthetic judgment, where arguments about architectural ugliness do not pertain solely to buildings or assessments of style, but intrude into the legal spheres of civil society.
Hyde explores how accidental and willful conditions of ugliness—including the gothic revival Houses of Parliament, the brutalist concrete of the South Bank, and the historicist novelty of Number One Poultry—have been debated in parliamentary committees, courtrooms, and public inquiries. He recounts how architects such as Christopher Wren, John Soane, James Stirling, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe have been summoned by tribunals of aesthetic judgment. With his novel scrutiny of lawsuits for libel, changing paradigms of nuisance law, and conventions of monarchical privilege, he shows how aesthetic judgments have become entangled in wider assessments of art, science, religion, political economy, and the state.
Moving beyond superficialities of taste in order to see how architectural improprieties enable architecture to participate in social transformations, Ugliness and Judgment sheds new light on the role of aesthetic measurement in our world.
Timothy Hyde is associate professor of architectural history and theory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). His research focuses on the political dimensions of architecture from the eighteenth century to the present, with a particular attention to relationships of architecture and law. His most recent book Ugliness and Judgment: On Architecture in the Public Eye (Princeton University Press, 2019) explores episodes in aesthetic debates on architecture and ugliness in Great Britain over the past three centuries and reveals the ways in which architectural discourse participated in the development of social technologies. He is also the author of Constitutional Modernism: Architecture and Civil Society in Cuba, 1933-1959 (University of Minnesota Press, 2012), which examines the entanglement of law, architecture, and planning in the wake of constitutional debates in Cuba. Hyde is a founding member of the Aggregate Architectural History Collaborative and is one of the editors of the first Aggregate book, Governing by Design. His writings have also appeared in numerous journals, including Perspecta, Log, El Croquis, the Journal of Architecture, the Journal of Architectural Education, arq, Future Anterior, Architecture Theory Review, and Thresholds.
Professor Hyde will introduce the book, and this will be followed by comments and discussion.
- Professor Elain Harwood (Architecture, Historic England)
- Professor Ben Highmore (Cultural Studies, Sussex)
- Dr Andrew Bricker (English Literature, Ghent)
- Dr Lucy Finchett-Maddock (Law, Sussex)
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