Smell and the City

Urban smell enthusiasts

Happy New Year you Smell Aficionados! Welcome in 2014 with scented fireworks on the Thames


2013 has been one crazy year for Smell and the City and I really could not have done it without you fantastic folks sending me links to all the smell environment stories you spotted out there. In fact in 2013, this humble blog had over 12,000 hits from 96 different countries so THANKS EVERYONE!!!!

The year started with a month spent as a visiting fellow at the Graduate School of Architecture in Grenoble, France. In addition to finishing writing my book Urban Smellscapes whilst out there (which went on to be released in the Autumn in the UK and US) whilst I was there I had the wonderful opportunity of working with Jean-Paul Thibaud at the CRESSON laboratory. To top it all off, the CRESSON library includes some fascinating books and papers on urban ambiance and sensory environments including the original doctoral thesis of Suzel Balez, the French architect who studies the indoor smellscapes in a commercial centre back at the turn of the Millenium. Check out some of the images of her thesis below which includes – yes it really does – pots of scent, it is truly a delight!


Images: Suzel Balez’s Doctoral Thesis on Indoor Smellscapes (Grenoble, France)

February through to the early summer were spent concentrating on the delivery of ‘Sensory Architectures’, a new module I developed for second year architecture students at the Manchester School of Architecture. The module proved extremely popular, featuring both in-person and Skyped-in presentations from some of you fantastic people out there including Jayne Bradley-Gosh (Edible Eastside, Birmingham), Neil Bruce (Salford), Jenna Condie (Salford), Alan Lewis (Manchester), Kate McLean (Christ Church Canterbury), Charlie Mydlarz (New York), Marialena Nikolopoulou (Kent), Prask Sutton (76MSMA, London), Jean-Paul Thibaud and last but not least Nicola Twilley (New York, Edible Geography blog). Thanks also to the students who produced some amazing work, see below, you people are amazing!

HoiKiChu Smellmap2

HoiKiChu Smellmap1

Images: Smellmap of the Manchester Arndale Centre by Hoi Ki Chu (student at the Manchester School of Architecture)

The spring, summer and autumn months also included lots of different events and smellwalks, with one of my favourite being that along La Rambla in Barcelona as part of  the Scent, Science and Aesthetics Workshop, organised by Spanish Philosopher Marta Tafalla (check out her work on Anosmia, it’s great!).

I started a new role as Lecturer in Urban Design and Planning, in the Department of Town and Regional Planning, at the University of Sheffield at the start of September, and have subsequently taken on the role of lead supervisor (co-supervised with Prof. Jian Kang) for PhD candidate Jieling Xiao, who is exploring the smellscapes of public transport hubs in English and Chinese cities (more on this exciting development in 2014!)

With the launch of Urban Smellscapes in September, the last few months of the year were a whirlwind of teaching, smellwalks, talks and media interviews, and one of my absolute highs occurred at the start of December where I had the opportunity  to discuss the important role of smell in cities both as part of BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week Show, and the World Service.

Many of my walks and talks were aided with the use of a fantastic piece of tech: The Nasal Ranger (check out the image below, taken at a walk I ran as part of the Manchester Science Festival back in the Autumn). The kit was very kindly loaned to me by Crestwood Environmental in the Midlands, so thanks a bunch to everyone there and in particular Nicole Walker, you are a smell superstar!


Image: Manchester Science Festival, 2013 (image: Chris Foster) 

As for 2014… it promises to be jam-packed full of exciting challenges which I hope to update you onl as part of the Smell and the City blog. These include details of a session on Designing with Smell which I am co-ordinating at the Design Principles and Practices Conference in Vancouver in January, and an event I will be working on with colleagues at the EDGE Lab at  Ryerson University, Toronto (watch this space!!!). I will also be presenting at the Royal Academy in February, and WIRED Magazine will be running a feature on my work in the Spring, exciting times!!!

So it is only appropriate to end this fantastic year in style, with a story on scented fireworks to be released tonight as part of the annual New Year’s celebrations on the Thames. Apparently this year, not only will the fireworks look spectacular, but they will also smell of strawberries (!!!) Read all about it here and thanks very much to @NashExperience on Twitter for sending me the link to the story.



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This entry was posted on December 31, 2013 by in Smell and the City Project.
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