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Symposium: Architecture, Starting with the Brain

The decade of the brain is now decades past, and its effects have rippled through all disciplines. The time has come to consolidate its gains. What relevance do the discoveries of neuroscience have for architecture, a culture and a discipline with its own matters of concern? Skepticism of “scientism,” born of a half-century of critical acuity, has held back efforts at theorization, no matter how reasonable and even necessary they may be. This symposium takes as its premise that “the brain” – as a discursive object, material reality, and perceptual apparatus – belongs to architecture as much as any other field. The lessons of the decade of the brain can help us rethink central aspects of architectural expertise and reformulate elements of its conceptual foundation. Can “universal” commonalities coexist with culturally-constructed differences? What means do we have of combining the conceptual with the affective? What agency do we have in the way we are molded by our environment? How can the mechanisms of “experience” be used as a basis for design? The symposium is structured around panel presentations and discussions with architecture theorists, historians, philosophers, and artists. It is free and open to the public, and will be held at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at 230 College Street, Toronto.