Richard J. Williams: Sex and Buildings

Organized by Christoph Lindner

Date: Friday, November 22
Time: 14.00-16.00 (Masterclass) | 17.00-19.00 (Lecture)
Where: Room F022, Bushuis, Kloveniersburgwal 48, Amsterdam

Description: Our sexual lives are framed by buildings of one kind or another, and we often think of sex in relation to architectural spaces. Our bedrooms, or hotels we have stayed in, or less conventionally perhaps a club, or the back seat of a car: all these spaces might condition the way we think about sex. Surprisingly architects have had very little to say on the matter. As so often is the case, architects tend to imagine the inhabitants of buildings as lacking bodies. There have, however, been a few architectural experiments which envisage a more open, liberal sexuality, paralleling developments in sex research. There have also been some remarkable cinematic representations of architecture in which buildings are imbued with a sexuality that their creators did not originally imagine. Addressing these issues, this public lecture and masterclass will explore the relationship between sex and buildings, drawing on Richard Williams’s recently published book of the same title. In particular, the lecture and class will look at some key examples of Californian modern architecture, as well as some moments from the TV series Mad Men.

Richard J. Williams is Professor of Contemporary Visual Cultures at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. He has researched and written extensively about the contemporary city, with particular interests in urban regeneration, the place of culture in the city, and the legacy of modernism in urban design. His most recent book is Sex and Buildings: Modern Architecture and the Sexual Revolution (2013). His previous books include The Anxious City (2004) and Brazil: Modern Architectures in History (2009).

To register for the masterclass (strict limit of 20 places), please email No advance registration is required for the public lecture.