Launch of our latest book in Nottingham | March 2019

Home Renaissance Foundation was delighted to be the guest of Professor Gamal Abdelmonem, Chair in Architecture and Director of the Centre for Architecture, Urbanism and Global Heritage (CAUGH) at Nottingham Trent University, for the launch of The Home: Multidisciplinary Reflections, published by Edward Elgar 2018.

The fine buildings of Nottingham Trent University, the perfect marriage of old and new architectural styles, reflect the impressive achievements of the university and provided a very welcoming and appropriate context for the launch on Thursday evening. The invited audience included academics and students from a range of disciplines, along with professional architects.

The keynote presentation of the evening on “Wellbeing and Social Environment” was given by Professor Sir Harry Burns, Director of Global Public Health at Strathclyde University. Sir Harry Burns is also Chair of the Centre for Health Policy and of the Scottish Government’s Review into Targets for Health and Social Care. He was Chief Medical Officer for Scotland until 2014.

Professor Antonio Argandona,  Emeritus Professor of Economics and Business Ethics, Chair of Corporate Social Responsibility at IESE, Business School, University of Navarra and editor of The Home: Multidisciplinary Reflections presented the content and significance of the publication.

They were joined on the panel by Tricia Akers RIBA, Director and Owner of Allan Joyce Architects, and Julie Richards RIBA, Director and Owner of Julie Richards Architectural Design Limited. Both architects work in the Nottingham area and have a wide experience of creating many different kinds of homes, from luxury residences to social housing and care homes. Julie Richards also gave a helpful introduction to some of the questions and considerations to be used in the design process.

Professor Abdelmonem introduced each of the guest speakers and panellists, making valuable links between the world of architecture and the wider implications of home and housing decisions for the whole of society.

HRF Chairman Bryan Sanderson CBE began the evening by emphasising the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to discussion of the home. Voices from the worlds of architecture, medicine, education and law need to contribute to this critically important subject. The role of Home Renaissance Foundation as an International Think Tank is to provide a space and a platform for these voices to be heard.

Professor Antonio Argandona continued this theme in his presentation on The Home: Multidisciplinary Reflections. There is strong societal need for a catalyst for change. Beneficial changes in our communities and workplaces begin in the home. This requires both the willingness of the individual to behave in such a way as to support other members of the household and for policy makers to support individuals in doing this. Professor Argandona spoke of a society where “home overflows”. He ended with the readiness needed in the home context to “fry a shirt or iron an egg”, in other words to see and live our individual and collective responsibility to each other.

Professor Sir Harry Burns speaking on “Wellbeing and Social Environment” was also very concerned about how the “home overflows” in to later life outcomes for individuals as well as wider society: “The circumstances in which we are born, grow and live shape the outcomes we experience.” Speaking from his personal experience as a surgeon, and illustrated by data from a wide range of studies, Sir Harry described the devastating damage that stems from living in homes where family members suffer chronic stress, most often as a result of poverty. This overflows into poor educational and health outcomes and poor choices and behaviours. Developing his discussion to “what causes wellness” Sir Harry saw a causal link between people having more control of their social environment and improved quality of life. “Ask people what they need”, “Think, Yes” are attitudes required from those in charge of public policy and resources to make the difference. Building hope, confidence and a “sense of coherence” in those most at risk in our society is the most important building we can do.

The panellists took up these strands of how the built environment can help create more positive social environments. Key is to build places that allow people to come together, and to understand the needs of the people using the space. Tricia Akers and Julie Richards explained how important the client consultation phase of any project should be. Sir Harry Burns stressed that this phase also needs to be given priority when social and community projects are under discussion.

Questions from the floor included a plea for all those studying and working in the field of architecture to engage with these issues.

Professor Abdelmonem closed this very successful and enjoyable session with renewed thanks to all those contributing to the launch of The Home: Multidisciplinary Reflections.

HRF Seminar and Book Launch: “The Home: Multidisciplinary Reflections” at Nottingham Trent University was organised in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)-East Midlands and the Nottingham Trent Architectural Society

Pogramme and participants

Thursday, March 14, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.

Newton Building, Lecture Theatre 4, City Campus, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham