Architecture and The Politics of Scarcity
Jeremy Till

Jeremy Till

Architecture and the Politics of Scarcity

Public lecture
Thursday, 2 May 2013


The seventh public lecture in the Spring UMA  lecture series 2013 "Making Architecture Politically", will be addressed by architect, writer and educator Jeremy Till who is Head of Central Saint Martins and Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Arts, London.

The livestream of the lecture by Jeremy Till:

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Notes on Scarcity

In an earlier talk Jeremy Till  developed his discourse on the hunch that the next decade will be defined by our reaction to conditions of scarcity, and that the present formulations of sustainability are insufficiently nuanced to cope with these conditions. The lecture was also based on the premise that one of architecture's key dependencies is economics, which in turn has historically been defined through various readings of scarcity - thus if architecture is to understand economy it has to understand scarcity.

In his talk he spoke about 3 key moments in the relationship between scarcity and economics - 1792 with Malthus, 1932 with Robbins and 1972 with the Club of Rome - in each of which scarcity was effectively used as a scare tactic to delimit the issues that economics can address, and that this economics of fear is can also be seen reflected in a parallel history of architecture. The final section speculated on the contemporary condition. What happens if scarcity is liberated from its hold within neo-classical and now neo-liberal economics, and instead is understood as a constructed condition? The hesitant answer is that architects and other spatial agents will have to find new ways of working within these political ecologies, in which arguments of working with less and saving resources will be only part of the solution.

The first book from Jeremy Till's scarcity research project (see also SCIBE website) edited with Jon Goodbun and Deljana Iossifova - which brings together articles, including ones by Ezio Manzini, Erik Swyngedouw, Winy Maas, Kate Soper highlights some of the espects Jeremy will talk about in his public lecture and seminar at the UMA school of architecture. Table of contents and more inoformation on the book you can find here.


Jeremy Till

Architect, author and educator Professor Jeremy Till is Head of Central Saint Martins (video on CSM) and Pro-Vice Chancellor of University of Arts, London. In addition to his new post at Central Saint Martin he is involved with Spatial Agency - a project that looks to evolve the tradition of author-hero architecture and posits an alternative role for architects beyond purely designing 'space'.

His extensive written work includes Flexible Housing (with Tatjana Schneider, 2007), Architecture Depends (2009) and Spatial Agency (with Nishat Awan and Tatjana Schneider, 2011). More information can also be found at the Spatial Agency website. All three of these books won the RIBA President's Award for Outstanding Research, an unprecedented sequence of success in this prestigious prize. As an architect Jeremy worked with Sarah Wigglesworth Architects, and in particular on their own house and office, 9 Stock Orchard Street.

His website: collects  nearly all his published work with links or downloadable pdfs. The * to ***** star ratings are Jeremy Tills assessment of his own work, so bear little resemblance to popular taste. The musings section has very occasional blogs. Various profiles are below. The website is the work of CSM graphic design graduates Duarte Carrilho da Graça & Philipp Sokolov.

More information:
Interview with Jeremy Till: Thinking in Practice.

How many "earths" of natural resources would it take to sustain all 6.6 billion humans in our world if everyone lived your lifestyle: in a home like yours, drove and ate like you and shopped like you? More than 3.5 earth are needed to live the Western style of life. Photo from Spaceship Earth, NASA.