Finnish architect and former Pritzker Prize for Architecture juror Juhani Pallasmaa will deliver UNSW’s next Utzon Lecture on the sensory and ethical dilemmas facing contemporary architecture.

Scheduled for 13 April at the Law Theatre on the UNSW Kensington campus, the Utzon Lecture by Juhani Pallasmaa will examine whether contemporary architecture’s obsession with the new and gimmicky detracts from its quality and emotional impact.

The Professor Emeritus at Helsinki’s Aalto University, Pallasmaa observes that the task of architecture is to defend the authenticity of human experience. However, quality in architecture, design and art is determined by factors such as uniqueness and newness over the past few decades rather than the coherence and harmony of landscapes and cityscapes, and their rich historical layering, which are no longer seen as essential objectives of architecture.

Pallasmaa adds that the fascination with newness is characteristic to modernism at large, but this obsession has never been as unquestioned as in the current age of mass consumption and materialism.

A person who believes architecture should be a true collaboration of the five senses, Pallasmaa has written and lectured extensively throughout the world for more than 40 years on architecture and the visual arts, environmental psychology and cultural philosophy. His book on architectural theory, The Eyes of the Skin – Architecture and the Senses, has become a classic of architectural theory and is required reading in many schools of architecture internationally.

Juhani Pallasmaa is in Australia as the Droga Architect in Residence courtesy of the Australian Institute of Architects Foundation.

Juhani Pallasmaa

Juhani Pallasmaa has held various positions including Rector of the Institute of Industrial Design, Director of the Museum of Finnish Architecture and Professor and Dean of the School of Architecture, Helsinki University of Technology. He has had several visiting professorships in the USA and taught and lectured in numerous universities in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Asia and Australia. Pallasmaa has published 45 books and 400 essays, and his writings have been translated into 35 languages.

Juhani Pallasmaa will deliver the Utzon Lecture ‘Tradition and Newness: Continuity and Meaning in Art’ on Wednesday 13 April 2016, 6.30pm at the Law Theatre, UNSW Kensington campus.