Architecture, Culture and Tectonics Research Group

ACT Guest Seminar- November 2021

B38 Lenton Firs
Wednesday 3rd November 2021 (13:00-14:00)
For further information please contact Professor Jonathan Hale, or Sarah Taylor, Research Administrator
The Architecture, Culture & Tectonics Research Group warmly invites you
to attend their Wednesday Seminar on 3rd November at 13.00pm


“Architecture and Science in Confluence: On Visual Perception in Ibn al-Haytham's Optics and the European Perspectiva Traditions”

Nader El-Bizri (1)


Guest Speaker: Nader El-Bizri 


This talk focuses on the confluences of the architectural-pictorial arts with the optical-mathematical sciences within the Perspectiva traditions that unfolded in the European milieu from the High Middle ages and up to the early-modern epoch, and passing by the Italian Renaissance.  The emphasis will be placed on the adaptive assimilation within this legacy of the science of optics of the eleventh-century Arab architect, geometer, optician, and astronomer Ibn al-Haytham (known in Latin as: ‘Alhazen’; born in Basra ca. 965 CE, and died in Cairo ca. 1041 CE).  This line of inquiry will examine his theories of light and direct vision, and his studies in catoptrics and dioptrics, all as set in his monumental and foundational treatise, the Kitāb al-manāẓir (Book of Optics; entitled in Latin as: De aspectibus, Opticae, or Perspectiva).  We shall situate his oeuvre within the wider epistemic context of his scientific experimental method and controlled testing as underpinned by his isomorphic composition of geometric modelling with physics in studying natural phenomena.  A main focus will be placed on his theory of visual perception in connection with the physics of light, the physiology of the eye and its anatomy, the neurological sensations via the optic nerves, the cognitive psychology of vision, and the errors in sight, and how these are also connected with his theory of spatiality and the phenomenology of kinaesthetic situational embodiment. 

Peter Paul Rubens, Vignette for the Opticorum libri sex of François d’Aguilon (Antwerp, 1613) (1)


Nader El-Bizri is a Leverhulme Visiting Professor in Intellectual History at Durham University and a Professor of Civilization Studies and Philosophy at the American University of Beirut.  He lectured and published internationally in Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, Phenomenology, and Architectural Humanities.  He serves on various editorial boards of academic publishers, including his General Editorship of an Oxford University Press series.  He acted as a referee to international research bodies, and his cultural portfolios include consultancies to the Science Museum in London, the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in Geneva, the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in Berlin, and UNESCO in Paris.  He practiced as an architectural designer in London, Cambridge, New York, and Beirut, and featured on BBC and France Culture radio and television programs, and received various awards, including the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences Prize, and his election as a Mellon Global Liberal Arts Fellow at the Claremont Consortium of Colleges in California.

Please see the link below if you’d like to listen to the podcast version of BBC Radio 4’s ‘In Our Time’ in which Nader discusses the work of medieval Persian Islamic philosopher and physician Avicenna.

Architecture, Culture and Tectonics

The University of Nottingham
Faculty of Engineering
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0)115 74 86257