Archive for October, 2014

Remembering Dr Victoria Henshaw [1971-2014]

October 21st, 2014

In Memory, Victoria Henshaw: 1971-2014

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr Victoria Henshaw, who was our first international research fellow, and a great inspiration and influence on our work. Dr Henshaw is not only valued for her pioneering and original scholarly work but for her warmth and the generosity of spirit she brought to her mentorship and guidance of other researchers, including our own, while creating a new field – out of thin air. While there has been much scholarship on the ‘culture’ of the senses, Dr Henshaw’s work drew attention to the practical, ‘everyday’ and ‘lived’ realities of smell as dimension of the built and ambient environment that has been largely neglected by more aesthetic, scientific and consumer-oriented work on the senses. Most directly, it was through Dr Henshaw’s experiential and ‘nose-to-the-ground’ ‘smellwalks’ that her work was truly brought ‘to life’ and given meaning by the people, places and smells that inspired it.

Last January, we were privileged to host a visit from Dr Henshaw, who spoke to Ryerson’s Faculty of Design students about her work on urban smellscapes and dropped by the lab to talk with our researchers about the social and pedagogical dimensions of smellwalks. Earlier that month, lab director Dr Jason Nolan and RA Melanie McBride had participated in a panel presentation assembled by Dr Henshaw on the pedagogical and socio-cultural dimensions of ‘Designing with Smell’ for the Design Principles & Practices Conference in Vancouver.


Dr Henshaw sharing scents with EDGELab RA Alana Butler.

Building on Dr Henshaw’s work, RA McBride and Dr Nolan are contributing a chapter about DIY curriculum and pedagogy for olfactory learning for Dr Henshaw’s final book project, which is a collection of essays focused on designing with smell. In the spring of 2015, we will be organizing a smellwalk in memory of Dr. Henshaw (further details forthcoming later this winter).

Warmly, we remember Dr Henshaw’s exuberant presence and the sincerity, integrity, inclusiveness and inspiration that guided her work and interactions. Above all, we can best celebrate her life and legacy through the direct experience of sensing the wisdom of the world that is right beneath our noses.


Urban Smellscapes (Routledge, 2013)
A full length work based on Dr Henshaw’s doctoral and subsequent research on the role of smell in urban design.

Smell and the City: Urban Smell Enthusiasts 
A collaborative blog that was overseen by Dr Henshaw.

The woman kicking up a stink about urban life: ‘Cities are losing their smell’
“From chocolate shops to noodle bars, from Japanese ‘sites of good fragrance’ to a hint of purest Glasgow, one woman is on a mission to reopen our nostrils to the smells of the city” – Article about Dr Henshaw’s work from the Guardian.

Don’t Turn Up Your Nose at the City in Summer
“Summer in New York, Season of Smell”
A feature article by Victoria Henshaw in the New York Times.

Obituary: Victoria Henshaw
Dr Henshaw’s life and work are described in her obituary in the The Guardian:

“A town centre manager turned urban academic, [Henshaw] became fascinated by this element of the environment that she thought had been crucially overlooked by architects and planners alike. Her doctoral research involved undertaking “smellwalks” with a range of built environment professionals, including urban designers and planners, architects and engineers, in order to open their noses to the aromas of the city”