Edward Denison at The Bartlett
Advice for the Anthropocene
29. March 2023
Photo: Edward Denison; screenshot from “Edward Denison - The Bartlett International Lectures 22-23”
Edward Denison, professor at The Bartlett School of Architecture, delivered his inaugural lecture as part of the school's International Lecture Series on March 15. “End Time: Reflections on Design, Modernities, and the Anthropocene” reflects on Denison's 25-year career researching and practicing in the UK, China and Africa, to give Bartlett students — and others, by virtue of its recording — ways of dealing with “the unwelcome inheritance of an age of modernity.”
At just shy of one hour, Denison's lecture is long, at least compared to much of the fare posted to our Film category, but it is well worth setting aside the time for. And with the lecture's mix of autobiographical stories, diverse references, deep insights, photographs, moving images — even ska music — it is a quick, enjoyable, and intellectually stimulating hour that doesn't feel as long. Most illuminating are his experiences with his partner and fellow Bartlett professor Guang Yu Ren, which include numerous books and sustained efforts on the preservation of modern architecture in Asmara, the capital of the small East African country of Eritrea.
Denison's education, both at The Bartlett and University of Technology Sydney, as well as his research and practice on three continents, has led him to positions highly critical of the sustained legacies of modern architecture and, more broadly, modernity itself. Near the end of the talk, he asserts that “we can no longer ignore Africa,” since it will see the most growth in the decades ahead and therefore requires new models for sustainable urbanization, not the ones attempted on other continents. This being the year of Lesley Lokko's “The Laboratory of the Future” at the Venice Biennale, architects will definitely be waking up to the truth of Denison's assertion.