Wren Conversations: Building Cities

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Free Event
22 Mar 2023
St Stephen Walbrook


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.

This event is free – booking essential.

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.

Kate Murphy

Kate Murphy is a Senior Partner at Foster + Partners, a global studio for sustainable architecture, urbanism, engineering and design, founded by Norman Foster in 1967. With over 20 years of experience on a variety of project types and scales, ranging from cultural buildings to high-rise towers, Kate’s speciality is the regeneration of historic buildings to give them a sustainable future.

Kate had a senior role in the European Headquarters for Bloomberg, a major office building on one of the most sensitive and historic sites in the City of London. Kate was responsible for successfully delivering the significant levels of innovation that enabled the building to achieve BREEAM Outstanding with the highest design score ever awarded for an office building.

Additional panellists to be confirmed.

This event is free – booking essential.


This event is supported by Bloomberg and William J. Loschert KSG