Superurbanism is a series of conversations with the most interesting people working in the field of architecture today: architects, curators, authors, designers. Host Tim Abrahams explores both the details of their work and their bigger vision.

Tim Abrahams
Machine Books

Farshid Moussavi RA OBE is an architect and – pay attention to the exact phrasing – Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard GSD. Born in Iran but raised in Britain, she has a terrific range of work, all imbued with a public spirit. Tim talks to her about one of her smallest projects ever as well as the purpose of her work in France and the USA.

Judit Carrera is a political scientist by education but is now director of the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona (CCCB). As part of her remit, she is also in charge of the CCCB’s Education programme, head of the CCCB Archive, and director of the European Prize for Urban Public Space which awards the most thoughtful new communal spaces across the continent.

This is the second half of a conversation between host Tim Abrahams and William Mann the first half of which was broadcast earlier in this series. This week the practice William is a partner of Witherford Watson Mann will complete their extension to Clare College in Cambridge. This is a discussion about that building but much more. Moliere, Freud and Imannuel Kant.

Rowan Moore is one of the UKs most eloquent and respected architecture critics. His third book Property: The Myth That Built The World raises key issues about how we provide housing which has profound relevance for our current predicament. Do we have an unhealthy obsession with ownership? Tim explores the issue with him.

This week Tim Abrahams meets Ken Shuttleworth. Known as Ken the Pen in his university days, he is a leading architect with an exemplary talent for drawing. He takes us through a life in drawing, explaining how his relationship with the art has evolved and how, now he has founded the Architectural Drawing Prize, the media has changed in an industry undergoing huge technological change.

For the last ten years, collector and curator Niall Hobhouse has run the charity Drawing Matter from a converted farm in Somerset. This year he has taken the decision to bring his amazing collection of architectural drawings to London, Tim takes a look through work by Le Corbusier, Aldo Rossi, Alvaro Siza, plus many more and asks Niall what the plan is for the next decade.

Amin Taha founded his practice, now called Groupwork, in London in 2003. Despite the controversy around his signature project 15 Clerkenwell Close, built with structural stone, he is a much sought-after architect. He takes host Tim Abrahams around his latest project 8 Bleeding Heart Yard in London and talks construction techniques, planning politics and the meaning of history.

Laure Mériaud and Cécilia Gross came together when colleagues recommended that their practices Atelier 2/3/4 and VenhoevenCS bid to design the one new building that is being constructed for the Paris 2024 Olympics. They take our host Tim Abrahams around the Aquatic Centre in Saint-Denis, a département outside the city proper that has long suffered.

Shane De Blacam has just received the Royal Academy Prize, for his work with the late John Meagher, who he entered into practice with 1976. His greatest works include the Samuel Beckett Theatre in Dublin and Munster Technological University Cork. Before forming his practice with Meagher, de Blacam worked in London for Chamberlain, Powell and Bon and with Louis I. Khan in Philadelphia.

Together with his colleagues Christopher Watson and Stephen Witherford, William Mann is a partner at one of the most consistently brilliant architecture practices in the country; Witherford Watson Mann. Recently he took Tim on a whistle-stop tour of their latest project; an almshouse in South London, explaining how history acts as a rich source of ideas for the practice to plunder.

Will Wiles is a brilliant author of several novels and a collection of short stories called The Anechoic Chamber that will be published in August 2024. He’s also a contributor to The Machine Book of Weird, recently published by Machine Books. With Tim, he explores the relationship between architecture and literature and between the exterior world and the interior.

Machine Books recently published Play the Game by Michael Owens and Ralph Ward: a book superbly woven together from interviews of the people who brought the Olympics to East London. To celebrate this event, the authors led a very special tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with several of the key figures, including Eleanor Fawcett, the former Head of Design at the Olympic Delivery Authority.

Man of the moment Peter Barber takes us around his office in Kings Cross, London. Perhaps London’s most famous builder of social housing, Barber explains the close details of his craft and his repertoire of design ideas. Less commonly touched on, he also explains the bigger picture; how teaching and utopian thinking moves his practice forward.

Everbody Talks About the Weather and so do we. Still in Venice we pop into the Prada Foundation and have a tour of their summer exhibition at Ca’Corner. The exhibition curated by Dieter Roelstrate is an overview of the complex ways artists have thought about weather. Dieter takes us round and explains how art and science might work together.

In our opening episode, we visit the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023 and consider how a series of crises – Covid, Black Lives Matter and global warming – inform it. We talk to the curator of the biennale, Lesley Lokko but also the president of all the biennales, the film producer Roberto Cicutto and Pritzker Prize laureate Francis Kéré.