Wren Conversations: His International Influence and Contemporary Relevance

Posted on: January 3rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

From India to the USA Wren’s influence can be seen in buildings around the world. Ranging from the clapboard churches of New England to the city halls of Belfast and Durban. In this conversation chaired by Edwin Heathcote, architecture critic at the Financial Times, speakers will discuss whether Wren was Britain’s first ‘starchitect’ and to what extent the international ‘Wrenaissance’ should be considered the language of British colonial architecture. The panel will also consider if 300 years after his death, Wren is still relevant to contemporary architecture.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Chair: Edwin Heathcote

Edwin Heathcote is the architecture and design critic of The Financial Times. He is an architect and designer and the author of over a dozen books including The Meaning of Home (2012). He is also the founder and editor-in-chief of online design writing archive Readingdesign.org and a columnist and contributor to a number of magazines, including GQ and Icon.

Panellists include (TBC):

Annabelle Selldorf

Annabelle Selldorf is the Principal of Selldorf Architects, which she founded in 1988. Ms. Selldorf serves as lead designer on each of the firm’s projects. Born and raised in Germany, she received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Pratt Institute and a Master of Architecture degree from Syracuse University in Florence, Italy. Ms. Selldorf is a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and serves on the Board of the Architectural League of New York, the World Monuments Fund, the Chinati Foundation, and the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College.

Selldorf Architects are currently working on a series of sensitive adaptations to a series of buildings at The National Gallery, London. Coinciding with the Gallery’s Bicentenary in 2024, the projects will create a world-class welcome to the millions of visitors it receives each year.

Loyd Grossman

Loyd Grossman CBE is an entrepreneur, author and broadcaster. Born in Boston in 1950, he began his career as a journalist writing for music publications including Rolling Stone, Fusion, and Vibrations whilst studying as an undergraduate at Boston University (BA).

He has a lifelong interest in history, the arts and heritage, receiving a PhD from the University of Cambridge and serving on the board of a number of cultural institutions including English Heritage, the British School at Rome and the Public Monuments and Sculpture Association. He is Chairman of The Royal Parks, President of The Arts Society and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. He founded the 24 Hour Museum (now Culture 24) and was its Chairman until 2005. In June 2015 he was appointed CBE in recognition of his services to Heritage.

 Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Supported by William J. Loschert KSG

Wren Conversations: Building Cities

Posted on: January 3rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

Three days after the Great Fire in 1666, Wren presented the King with his plan for rebuilding the City of London.  It never came to fruition and instead Wren introduced a wholly new architectural style, building 51 churches mainly on mediaeval foundations.  This conversation will discuss the opportunities and challenges of designing buildings in historic settings such as the City of London and touch on concerns such as pollution in cities in Wren’s time and today, City infrastructure, the needs of the community, and the future of City churches.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Chair: Sir David Bell

Between 1995 and 2002, Sir David Bell was Chairman of the Millennium Bridge Trust, responsible for conceiving the first new bridge across the Thames in the centre of London for 100 years.

Panellists include:

Amanda Levete

Amanda Levete CBE is a RIBA Stirling Prize winning architect and founder and principal of AL_A, an international award-winning design and architecture studio. Since its formation in 2009, AL_A has refined an intuitive and strategic approach to design. Collaborating with ambitious and visionary clients, AL_A develop designs that are conceptualised not just as buildings, but as urban propositions – projects that express the identity of an institution, reflect the ambitions of a place, and hold the dreams of a community.

Sumayya Vally

Sumayya Vally is an award-winning architect and founder of Counterspace. Vally’s design, research and pedagogical practice is searching for expression for hybrid identities and contested territory, particularly for African and Islamic conditions. Her process is often forensic and draws on the oral, aural, sound, ritual, supernatural, and the overlooked as generative places of history and work.

In 2019, Counterspace was invited to design the 20th Serpentine Pavilion in London, making Vally the youngest architect ever to win this internationally renowned commission. With the Serpentine, she has initiated and developed a new fellowship program, Support Structures for Support Structures, which assists artists and collectives working at the intersection of art with social justice, the archive, and ecology. As Artistic Director, Vally is currently working on curating the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale taking place in Jeddah in January 2023.

Rab Bennetts

Rab Bennetts co-founded Bennetts Associates in 1987 with his partner Denise Bennetts and established its reputation for architecture and professionalism at the highest level. To date, the practice has accrued almost 200 awards, including being shortlisted for the RIBA Stirling Prize three times and winning UK Architect of the Year on four occasions.

Since the early 1990s, Rab has pioneered the link between sustainable design and high-quality architecture, and is a founder of the UK Green Building Council. He continues to take a personal, hands-on approach to projects, fostering a collaborative spirit throughout the practice’s activities.

Additional panellists to be confirmed.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.


Supported by William J. Loschert KSG

Wren Conversations: Wren and his Contemporaries

Posted on: January 3rd, 2023 by wrenEditor

Led by Harry Mount, architectural historian and editor of The Oldie, the evening will include a discussion about the context Wren was working in, and other key figures of the period, such as Nicholas Hawksmoor, Robert Hooke and Grinling Gibbons; the role and influence of the parishioners, the Church and the King; and diarists, Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn. 

Chair: Harry Mount

Harry Mount, the Oldie editor, has recently written Et Tu, Brute? The best Latin Lines Ever (Bloomsbury) with John Davie. Other books include A Lust For Window Sills; and Amo, Amas, Amat and All That. He writes for the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, the Spectator and many other newspapers and magazines. He was a leader writer and New York correspondent at the Telegraph.

Panellists include:

John Goodall

John Goodall is the architectural editor of Country Life. He is responsible for writing and commissioning the celebrated series of architectural features published in the magazine every week.

John has been involved in various television series on history and architecture. He was the series consultant for the BBC1 television series on architecture presented by David Dimbleby, The Way We Built Britain (2007).

Griff Rhys Jones

Griff Rhys Jones is a presenter, writer and broadcaster. In the early 1980s he worked on the BBC television comedy sketch shows Not the Nine O’Clock News and Alas Smith & Jones alongside Mel Smith. Griff is a passionate advocate of heritage preservation, appointments include President of Civic Voice, President of the Victorian Society, Patron of the Stour and Orwell Trust.

Dr Anna Keay

Dr Anna Keay is a 17th century historian, She read modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford, where she won two academic  scholarships. Her PhD on court ceremonial in the reign of Charles II was supervised by Professor John Miller at Queen Mary, University of London

From 1996 to 2002 Anna worked as a curator for Historic Royal Palaces, which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and the Banqueting House in Whitehall. From 2002 until 2012 she was Properties Presentation and then Curatorial Director of English Heritage, responsible for curating and presenting to the public 420 historic sites across England, from Stonehenge to Kenwood House. She is now Director of The Landmark Trust.

Ticket proceeds will go towards the Square Mile Churches and World Monuments Fund Britain.

Supported by William J. Loschert KSG

The Georgian Group 2023 Symposium

Posted on: October 19th, 2022 by wrenEditor

A central focus of the Wren 300 Festival is The Georgian Group’s 2023 Symposium led by Geoffrey Tyack of Oxford University.

Across an immersive full day, Wren’s late work from 1690 to 1723, his subsequent reputation and design legacy will be considered by leading scholars.

Public tickets include a buffet lunch and drinks reception and will be available to book directly from The Georgian Group from Thu 1 Dec 2022 when the day’s full programme will also be published.

The Professional World of Sir Christopher Wren

Posted on: September 23rd, 2022 by wrenAdmin

In April 1719, towards the end of his long life, Sir Christopher Wren wrote a letter to his former paymasters, the Lords of the Treasury. Reflecting on his fifty-year career, Wren told the Lords that he had ‘worn out (by God’s Mercy) a long life in Royal Service’, he then added that it was because of this service that he had ultimately ‘made some figure in the world’. Looking back, then, Wren saw his life as one defined principally by service to the Church and to the Crown, and these institutional duties occupied him for almost his entire professional life.

This conference, organised to celebrate the Tercentenary of his death in 1723, will investigate, in detail, this crucial aspect of Wren and his architecture. Bringing together major scholars of Wren, and his broader professional milieu, the conference will present a series of papers that will shed much new light on the commitment and leadership that Wren brought to all his official positions; as the head of the Office of Works, and as the driving force behind the design and building of the City Churches and St Paul’s Cathedral. The conference will explore the numerous designs that Wren produced for these offices, the administrative reforms that he introduced into all of them, and the identities and roles played by the draftsmen, officers, and craftsmen that he employed. In all, we will demonstrate that we cannot in any way understand Wren, his architecture, and his legacy, without fully understanding his professional world.