The Hands Lecture 2021: ‘Cities are gardens for growing people’.

A review by Veera Vudathu (Materials Science, 2018): 

The Hands Lecture 2021 was kindly given by Mr. Thomas Heatherwick. As a materials scientist with a special interest in product and automotive design, the concept of humanising design was new to me, and I wanted to understand a bit more about it. What I was not prepared for, was Thomas Heatherwick’s insightful and easy-to-understand breakdown of the philosophy behind his and his studio’s work. Whilst all being contemporary and stunning to look at, the projects he gave as examples displayed a range of themes and personalities. His project, the Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in South Africa, displayed a deep understanding of the site’s history and project purpose, while others, such as the Manhattan Pavilion, demonstrated an effective use of the context of the project and where it was located. 

In addition to buildings and spaces for existing in, Thomas Heatherwick spoke about an electric vehicle project that his studio engaged in. By utilising the car as a multi-purpose space, one that could be used for sleeping and working, as well as driving, the product they had designed was a step that was so off the path that I had accustomed myself to, that I started rethinking future projects, ideas, and concepts that I wanted to explore. I asked a question at the end of the talk about what some of the biggest lessons he learnt as he visited a project site after completion were and was met with advice that things take a lot longer when dealing with other people on projects; a valuable lesson as a soon-to-be-graduate. This talk was a truly fascinating presentation of Thomas’ wealth of experience in his field and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Photo credit: Keiko Ikeuchi, 2021.