FINAL PROKALO THIS TERM: Ernesto Valero Thomas

Join the Prokalo team and Ernesto Valero Thomas, our final presenter this term for discussion, wine and nibbles:

Energy and Space: Mapping Networks of Gasoline Stations in the Dispersed City 


PROKALO_Ernesto Valero_WEB



This paper studies spatial networks of gasoline stations, one of the most ubiquitous infrastructures of mobility in urban and non-urban habitats. Gasoline stations have been objects of interest in the fields of architecture and urban studies over the last fifty years. Frank Lloyd Wright completed the R. W. Lindholm Service Station in 1958. The design of this building foresaw the role of filling stations as part of the aesthetic condition of cities in the 20th century. The aim of the work is to represent these infrastructures in a contemporary emerging city. The settlement is Ciudad Obregon (ca. 450,000 people), located in the region of the Gulf of California, Mexico. How do we measure the impact of gasoline stations in developing settlements? One approach is to represent their networks and the spatial boundaries that they form. This work analyses gasoline stations through a method that allows position, magnitude and pattern of arrangements to bring forward new interpretations of these buildings. The cartographic method consists on GPS-based maps and photographs captured on the ground. As the cartographic evidences suggest, the circulation of gasoline is pervasive. Gasoline stations are located in territories that have undergone major expansion. These infrastructures serve as architectural markers of spatial boundaries. They signify zones of state and capital power. Gasoline stations are catalysts that intensify the continuous movement of people, energy, and knowledge in rural and urban areas, regardless of their administrative or political borders.


In June 2015 Ernesto successfully defended his PhD at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on designing cartographic and visual methods of representation in the built environment. The aim is to shape architectural practices, digital technologies, and cultural narratives of environmental sustainability in developing contexts. His work has been published in academic journals from the United States (UCLA) and Mexico (UNAM). Ernesto arrived to the University of Edinburgh in 2009 to pursue the MSc Advanced Sustainable Design. Prior to that Ernesto completed a BArch from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). His explorations have been presented at international conferences in Germany, the Netherlands, France, Scotland and Ireland. Ernesto has exercised the analysis of environmental sustainability through teaching at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA). His blog:


Tiago Torres-Campos – Encounters with Manhattan’s Geologic: On Landscape, Time and the Anthropocene

PROKALO_Tiago Torres-Campos_WEB

Prokalo’s penultimate seminar this term!

We welcome Tiago Torres-Campos 

Join us!

5pm – 3rd May – Evolution House Rm 2.13


Over the last two hundred years, Manhattan has experienced a formidable urban expansion. The ambitious plan to overlay a rigid grid on the once forested, wet and hilly island went through many variations, most of which were ruthlessly determined to flatten hills, cut rocks, mow forests and fill ponds, wetlands and marshes, thus erasing the marks of an unregulated past.

Manhattan as we know today represents an extremely dense urban fabric where neo-liberalist capitalism was crystallised as tall, iconic skyscrapers, massive above and under-ground infrastructure and high-speculative real estate and retail markets. Prolific iconography about the city proves our fascination as well as ways through which the city constantly re-brands itself.

Within the scope of his PhD in Architecture by Design, in which he investigates the potential of the landscape as an immersive and experimental field to ontologically define time in the Anthropocene, Tiago’s work aims to reveal meaningful encounters with Manhattan’s geologic. Through three small projects, this research speculates on geologic delineations in a time of great changes, limits of representation and the politics of the Anthropocene.


Tiago Torres-Campos is a Portuguese Landscape Architect and Lecturer at the University of Edinburgh. After spending five years in a landscape architectural practice, he joined academia in 2012 and is now the programme director of the MA in Landscape Architecture. He is a Visiting Teaching Fellow on the PhD programme in Architecture at the University of Lisbon. His PhD in Architecture by Design currently investigates the potential of the landscape as an immersive experimental field to define time. Other research areas include landscape representations in the Anthropocene and the effects of digital media on the landscape. He has published internationally and is a founder of CNTXT Studio, a research-by-design platform.

Prokalo welcome Dr Richard Milgrom head of city planning at The University of Manitoba, Canada



PROKALO_Richard Milgrom_WEB

Age-friendly Regions? Supporting Uneven Growth and Decline

It is commonly understood that populations are aging. The movement to make cities and towns more “age-friendly” is gathering momentum; some centres are using the objectives outlined in the World Health Organization’s Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide (2007) to improve the quality of life for older adults, but also as a growth strategy, attracting new residents and the potential of the “grey economy”.

Not all centres, however, are growing – in many regions, where overall populations are static, while some prosper, others are suffering population loss and with it the loss of services that serve older adults. Regional strategies are required, strategies that make it possible for thriving centres to support those areas in decline.

This presentation draws on experiences in Canada, specifically the Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative (AFMI) and the work of City Planning studios at the University of Manitoba. The AFMI examined how well communities accommodated the needs of older adults and identified priorities for improvements.  Students in the City Planning studios engaged with eight of these communities, seeking planning and design approaches that would improve the lives of those currently entering retirement. A set of common themes has started to emerge – based around issues of transportation/walkability, housing and services.  Larger and growing centres appear to have the means to address some of these through careful choices and inclusive design strategies. However, those towns in decline highlight the regional challenges.

Richard Milgrom is an architect, city planner and urban designer.  He has practiced in Canada and the United Kingdom and worked in academic Canadian and US programs in both planning and architecture. His research interests include participatory planning and design processes, urban sustainability, and the relationship between population diversity and urban form.  His current work focuses on the social impact of urban development patterns using the city of Winnipeg as a case study.  Within this work, he is particularly interested in the challenges faced by ageing populations, and how age-neighbourhoods, cities and towns can be adapted to be more “age-friendly.”  Working with the Active Aging Community University Research Alliance based in the University of Manitoba’s Centre on Aging, and in cooperation with the Province of Manitoba’s Age-Friendly Initiative, Milgrom and graduate City Planning students are working with communities to envision more age-friendly environments in Winnipeg and in smaller rural towns.

Vasileios Kitsos: Urban practices and consensus in a time of crisis

5pm Tuesday the 29th

Followed by wine reception 

Rm 2.13, Evolution House, West Port

PROKALO_Vasilis Kitsos_WEB

 ABSTRACT:  In recent years Athens received much international attention, mostly with respect to the economic crisis and its current manifestations in urban space. While the crisis was unfolding, so did a number of plans for large scale regeneration and infrastructure projects. These sought to respond to a persistent decline in prime central areas and to questions related to the city center’s identity at large. And while some still continue unabated, others are still highly contested. The multitude of interests and stakeholders involved has perplexed things further more and resulted in a situation that is best reflected in the uncertainty over the well-known Rethink Athens project.

The presentation will thus 1) describe processes and actors involved in these large scale urbanistic projects 2) comment on the publicity they have received, arguing that this signifies a strong qualitative change in the urban discourse in Athens, which nonetheless has prevented a much needed consensus in these critical times.


I am originally from Athens, Greece. Dipl. Eng. Architecture (NTU Athens, 2008) and first professional experience, followed by an MSc in European Urbanism (Bauhaus University Weimar, 2011) and internships at Pratt Center for Community Development in New York and State Regional Development Agency of Latvia. I then got involved in urban regeneration research projects in Athens, and since late 2014 I am writing a phd on post-socialist urbanism at Södertörns University, Stockholm. In 2015 I was a guest phd researcher at the Siberian Federal University, Krasnoyarsk under an EraNet/ Erasmus grant for scientific cooperation between EU and the Russian Federation.

Prokalo welcomes doctoral student Alex Collins…

Micro-architecture and Macro-landscapes:

Space and Authorship in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid Franchise (1998–2015)

Tuesday the 22nd March

PLEASE NOTE NEW TIME : 7pm – 8pm followed by drinks and conversation

PROKALO_Alex Collins_WEB


This paper will analyse the means through which architecture and landscape acts as agent of authorial agency in Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid franchise. In particular, this paper will look at Kojima’s three-dimensional work from his first polygonal entry, 1998’s Metal Gear Solid to 2015’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, which marked the culmination of Kojima’s series but changed the series to an open-world format. Each of Kojima’s MGS games is thematically rich, narratively complicated and generically unstable. Overtly framed as stealth action games, each is also a reconstruction of video gaming’s potential as playful intermedia, addressing its physical and conceptual limitations and possibilities. This paper will examine how Kojima and his designers used architecture and landscape to mediate thematic issues and define and expand player potentialities. The art historical term ‘microarchitecture’ refers most broadly to miniaturised architectural representations, and has been used in architectural literature to refer to sophisticated expressions of the ‘really small’, but in programming is a term for the way in which instruction pathways are structured within a processor. Whereas earlier games in the series included defined spaces of tightly bound architecture leading to often extensive narrative cut scenes, their microarchitecture, in contrast the massive open worlds of Phantom Pain suggest the potential to make unique narrative moments in the savannah of Zaire and desert hills of Afghanistan. This paper will problematise these assumptions, looking at conditionality and design as fundamental parts of their landscape. In doing so, it will analyse and refer to the way space and architecture are used more widely in computer gaming.



Alexander Collins is a doctoral student in the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. His thesis analyses the role scale played in late medieval ritual culture, in particular large-format liturgical books and their integration into performative, rhetorical and memorial spaces. He is Associate Editor of the Journal of the Northern Renaissance, and tutors and occasionally lectures in History of Art, the University of Edinburgh.


Dr Richard Anderson – A Second-World Empire: Soviet Architecture, Socialism and Globalization

PROKALO_Richard Anderson_WEB

Tuesday the 1st March 2016


2.13 Evolution House, followed by drinks reception


The reconstruction of Tashkent after the earthquake of 1966 that left the city in ruins produced the most complete realization of a Soviet governmental and administrative centre of the 1960s and ‘70s. This ensemble gives us the clearest picture of the urban and architectural forms that the Soviet Union enlisted in the creation a model city for socialist and decolonizing countries. As one site within a vast architectural system, Tashkent offers an opportunity to consider the images, forms and organizational infrastructure of a global socialist architecture. The origins and ambitions of this project invite us to reconsider the geopolitics of architectural production in the twentieth century and to recognise the significant, yet little-understood role of the Second (socialist) world in global architectural culture.



Richard Anderson specializes in the history of modern and contemporary architecture in North America, Europe, and Eurasia, with emphasis on German- and Russian-speaking regions. His research and teaching explore architecture’s relationship to modern media and modes of economic reasoning. He is currently Lecturer in Architectural History at the University of Edinburgh’s school of architecture and landscape architecture (ESALA). He has previously taught at the Rhode Island School of Design and Columbia University.

Richard received his Ph.D. from Columbia University. He studied at Moscow State University (MGU), the Technical University, Berlin, and Pitzer College, where he received his B.A. He is the recipient of Whiting Foundation and Fulbright fellowships, as well as a Mellon/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship.

His essays have appeared in AA Files, Grey Room, Log, and Future Anterior. He is co-author, with Kristin Romberg, of Architecture in Print: Design and Debate in the Soviet Union (Columbia University, 2005). His writing has been featured in the book In Search of a Forgotten Architect: Stefan Sebök 1901-41 (Architectural Association, 2012). He is editor and principal translator of Ludwig Hilberseimer’s Metropolisarchitecture and Selected Essays (Columbia University, 2012; second edition 2013). Richard is the author of Russia: Modern Architectures in History (Reaktion Books, 2015), a cultural history of Russian architecture from 1861 to the present.

Jilly Traganou -Insurgent and Radical Forms of Dissent: Resisting the Olympic City

PROKALO_Jilly Traganou_WEB

We are very excited to welcome Associate Professor Jilly Traganou, The New School, London to Prokalo…

Evolution House, 2.13 

Tuesday the 16th February at 5pm

with drinks and nibbles


The Olympic Games are known as mega events that celebrate universal humanism, fair play and peaceful internationalism. Their realization in the urban environment of a host city involves processes of spatial transformation, militarization of public space, evictions of vulnerable populations, and introduction of new models of citizenship. This process of spatial enforcement is often accompanied by questioning, disagreement, and resistance. Within this broad spectrum of Olympic contestation, I will distinguish two different, but often complementary, forms of urban resistance, that involve creative engagement with material practices: those of insurgent and radical habitus. I will do so by discussing the Clays Lane Live Archive, a multidisciplinary project organized by artist Adelita Husni-Bey, and the Olympic Tent Village, an encampment that was part of the protest against the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Based on the idea of “radical habitus,” a term coined by sociologist Nick Crossley, and James Holston’s concept of “insurgent space,” I will compare these two forms of habitus as prefigurative of new forms of communal life.


Jilly Traganou is architect, Associate Professor in Spatial Design Studies, and Director of the MA in Design Studies in the School of Art and Design History and Theory, at Parsons School of Design, The New School. She is the author of The Tôkaidô Road: Traveling and Representation in Edo and Meiji Japan (RoutledgeCurzon, 2004), and a co-editor with Miodrag Mitrasinovic of Travel, Space, Architecture (Ashgate, 2009). Traganou is Reviews Editor of the Journal of Design History. Her new book Designing the Olympics: Representation, Participation, Contestation is currently under production by Routledge (2016). Her broader research interests include the study of spatial controversy, design as critical pedagogy in conditions of crisis, and the role of design in social movements and dissent.

PhD Candidate John Barber – New date! Tuesday the 2nd February

Poster design, Kostas Avramadis

Poster design, Kostas Avramadis

Statics and Dynamics in the Conservation of Drystone Buildings
John Barber

5pm, 2.13, Evolution House

ALL WELCOME !! with our usual drinks reception


With over forty years’ experience across the heritage industry ranging from field excavation to the presentation of archaeological sites and monuments, John has spent the last two decades working in Scottish monumental remains. Moving to Scotland in 1977, he worked in Historic Scotland for fourteen years, latterly as the Senior Field Archaeologist, managing their Archaeological Operations and Conservation (AOC) Unit. He left in 1991 to form AOC Archaeology Group, of which he remains Chairman. He has extensive experience of archaeology and heritage in the planning process. John is a specialist in the field of Cultural Resource Management and acts as archaeological consultant to a wide client portfolio, on projects ranging from commercial developments to community-led and Heritage Lottery Fund supported projects. John is currently a PhD candidate at University of Edinburgh’s ESALA, focussing on the drystone engineering and architecture of Scottish Iron Age brochs, several of which he has excavated.


Stated in caricature, my theme is that archaeologists, who predominantly focus on the preservation of ancient monuments, and architects, who mainly focus on their capacity for reuse, both undertake conservation as snapshots of the past that inadequately represent the dynamics of the biographies of structures. This formulation is examined and a way forward is proposed. My test cases are drystone-built monuments; structures whose structural integrity mainly relies on the management of static compressive loads. The monument in each case, it is argued, comprises its fabric, its enclosed spaces and its interactive landscape context. One case study is a Neolithic chambered cairn (4000 BC to 2000 BC), at Warehouse South, in Caithness, which is currently undergoing conservation and other examples are drawn from the writer’s PhD study of Scottish Iron Age broch towers (300 BC to AD 400). Widely separated in time, these monument-types share a common building technology and complex, if different use-histories. The monuments, once built, became dynamic foci in living landscapes and were modified over time to meet new social needs; these modifications sometimes being separated by natural deposits formed in periods of abandonment. Evidence for their dynamics is embedded in the remains albeit that existing paradigms seem to block its observation.  Representing developing monumental forms, these dynamics characterise a sequence of people/place relationships that present a challenge to conservation. Many charters argue, in terms, that the yardstick by which a monument’s cultural value is measured lies in its ability to inform this and future generations about the human condition. Conserving cultural value is the nominal objective of conservation. However, the end-use intention of the Conservator has emerged as a strong influence on the way in which cultural value is perceived and measured. The speaker will assert that Conservator intent is a potent factor determining the position on the contemporary preservation/reuse spectrum at which the conservation programme will sit; archaeologists more generally find themselves at one terminus of this spectrum with architects more commonly at the other, although both may work along the full range of the spectrum. Finally, the dynamics of monumental development interleaved with natural deposition converts large complex monuments to cultural landscapes and in this may lie our best guide to the most appropriate conservation-theory context for them. The language surrounding Historic Urban Landscapes in particular seems apt for our treatment of Large Complex Monuments and the methodologies of Cultural Landscape studies seem applicable to both.


Dr Patrik Schumacher


Prokalo is very happy to confirm that Dr Patrik Schumacher, Director of Zaha Hadid Architects will speak at Prokalo on the 23rd of February 2016.

To welcome in the New Year PROKALO welcomes Tahl Kaminer!

Critique and co-optation

Photo: Isabelle Doucet

Photo: Isabelle Doucet, poster design: Konstantinos Avramidis

Tuesday the 19th of January, 5pm 

2.13, Evolution House

Snacks and Drinks as always! – Open to all UG, PG, PGR and Staff


The resilience of capitalism and its ability to counter critique and address or repress discontent was visible in the last years in the deflection of post-crisis critique, expectations and political pressures, re-emerging triumphantly with ‘austerity’ as an ideological weapon. While such resilience frustrates radicals, the phenomenon that perplexes oppositional movements the most is, arguably, co-optation (récupération).

The process of co-optation includes a ‘hijacking of ideas’, the reaction by state or capitalism to critique and threats not by exclusion, but by a selective inclusion that transforms the threat to a more benign, palatable idea. Récupération is thus a weapon against critique, even of the most amiable kind, a means of producing non-substantive change in which power structures and relations of production remain static. The proposed paper will outline a theory of the process of societal integration of peripheral and oppositional ideas on an ideological and political level, identifying the manner in which architecture played a role in dissolving the threat of critique.


Tahl Kaminer is currently Lecturer in Architectural Design and Theory. Tahl completed his PhD at TU Delft in 2008, and was Assistant Professor before relocating to Edinburgh in 2012. He received his MSc Architecture Theory and History from the Bartlett in 2003. Tahl is a co-founder of the academic journalFootprint, where he was production editor from 2007-12, and co-editor of three issues. In 2011, Routledge published his monograph Architecture, Crisis and Resuscitation. In 2004 he co-founded the non-profit foundation 66 East, which ran twenty exhibitions, multiple screenings, events and lectures in a space in east Amsterdam.

Tahl’s research has two main tracks. The first focuses on the role of the discipline and practice of architecture in society. It studies the manner in which architecture is determined by political economy, ideology, and politics, and the manner in which it affects them. The second track studies the means of social amelioration via urban transformation.