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Simon Marvin Inaugural Lecture: Does the outside matter anymore?

By November 16, 2018 No Comments

Does the outside matter anymore? Atmospheric Encapsulation, Artificial Nature, and Urban Climatic Control

Wednesday 5th December at 17:30 in the Conference Room, Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences (ICOSS)

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Simon Marvin’s Inaugural Lecture asks: if the outside climate is increasingly seen as uncertain, risky and a serious threat to the secure reproduction of humans, ecologies and agriculture, does microclimatic enclosure inside volumetric spaces become strategically important for survival?

Drawing on a recent programme of international work across different domains of urban life, the talk reviews strategic attempts to bring the outdoor climate into new techno-mediated indoor microclimates including: the roll out of controlled environment agriculture in which all most every dimension of nature – the soil, sun and climate –  is replaced by technology; enclosing threatened ecologies in spectacular conservatories in places where the selected ecology could never normally survive; and, the recreation of tropical islands, beaches, seas and sunsets inside large scale encapsulated environments.   Increasingly it seems the outdoors is being strategically and purposively recreated indoors.   Emblematic and exemplary form of encapsulation that respond to particular climatic deficits – crippling heatwaves in Dubai, extreme cold in Astana, energy sapping humidity in Singapore, destructive hurricanes in Houston and toxic air in Chengdu are producing new forms of urban climatic enclosure.  In each site, the talk examines the emergence of microclimate enclosure as an attempt to immunise against the threats of a changing urban climate, analyses the techno mediated microclimate that is created, and then explores the limits and contradictions of encapsulation.  The talk asks whether climatecture – is a form of ‘climate gentrification’ that (attempts) to provide a new form of premium techno-mediated security through enclosure or whether it helps contribute to collective planetary security?

Simon Marvin is Director of The Urban Institute at the University of Sheffield. His research interests focus on constructing conceptual understanding and empirical analysis of the changing relations between socio-technical networks and urban contexts.  His work is noted for the way it develops innovative, interdisciplinary perspectives to help open up and explore important new agendas for urban studies and socio-technical research. His current research interests are focused on understanding the critical role of automation and robotics systems and microclimatic enclosure in reconfiguring urban life.