"Wren's rebuilding on the medieval avenue sample is the essence of London" say architects

Architects ought to work creatively with planning constraints fairly than combating them to be able to protect the character of historic cities, in response to panellists exploring the legacy of Christopher Wren at a chat filmed by Dezeen for World Monuments Fund.

The discuss introduced collectively a panel of architects who’ve designed buildings within the Metropolis of London to deal with the difficulties in growing historic cities, whereas preserving their identification and historical past.

“In lots of locations, there are unimaginable neighborhood establishments that haven’t really been preserved and are being erased by improvement,” mentioned South African architect Sumayya Vally in the course of the discuss.

“If we aren’t capable of work with the vitality of a spot and take into consideration how we evolve that alongside our improvement, then we’re lacking out on one thing.”

The discuss occurred at St Stephen Walbrook Church designed by Christopher Wren

Known as Wren Conversations: Constructing Cities, the discuss was the second in a collection of conversations exploring the life and legacy of the British architect to mark 300 years since his demise.

The panellists explored the methods through which Wren launched a brand new architectural model following the Nice Fireplace of London in 1666. Three days after the fireplace, Wren offered King Charles II along with his plan of rebuilding the town, which by no means got here to fruition.

Wren finally constructed 51 church buildings on current mediaeval foundations, together with the long-lasting St Paul’s Cathedral.

“He needed to discover a means of rebuilding inside London, however utilizing the mediaeval foundations – or in different phrases, adjusting to what was already there,” mentioned chairman of the Millennium Bridge Belief Sir David Bell, who hosted the discuss.

“In a means, that has been the historical past of London all over.”

Exterior of St Stephen Walbrook Church situated next to Foster + Partner's Bloomberg headquarters
The panel featured Amanda Levete, Sumayya Vally, Kate Murphy and Rab Bennetts. Photograph by Nigel Younger

The discuss, which occurred at St Stephen Walbrook Church on 22 March and was filmed by Dezeen, additionally mentioned obstacles they’ve confronted with planning and the way varied restrictions have impacted the broader planning of London, which, whereas limiting, haven’t essentially been unhealthy for the town.

“Wren’s form of rebuilding on the mediaeval avenue sample is definitely the essence of London,” mentioned Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete. “It is made London capable of adapt and evolve in a means that Paris hasn’t.”

“I imagine very strongly that the protecting views of St Paul’s are extraordinarily vital and must be preserved. And it is as much as us as architects to cleverly work round these fairly than to problem them,” she continued.

Exterior of St Stephen Walbrook Church situated next to Foster + Partner's Bloomberg headquarters
The discuss explored the difficulties of growing cities whereas preserving their wealthy histories. Photograph by Nigel Younger

Senior accomplice at Foster + Companions Kate Murphy, who had a serious function in designing the Stirling Prize-winning European headquarters of Bloomberg, defined the choices behind the size and massing of the constructing had been knowledgeable by the idea of “being neighbour”.

“It really already had planning consent for a a lot taller constructing with a a lot greater, greater centre,” Murphy defined. “However in the course of the course of the venture, the viewing corridors for St Paul’s Cathedral modified.”

“We misplaced the world, however I believe all of us felt it was the proper factor to do. So I believe that factor of being neighbour is the easiest way of approaching planning and actually attempting to attach with the neighborhood and the infrastructure round you,” she continued.

Exterior of St Stephen Walbrook Church situated next to Foster + Partner's Bloomberg headquarters
The panelists mentioned how planning restrictions can present each limitations and alternatives. Photograph by Nigel Younger

The venue for the discuss, Wren’s St Stephen Walbrook Church, is now used for a number of programmes and teams – together with Samaritans, choral music evenings and Rush Hour Jazz – serving as a neighborhood centre for numerous teams.

Reflecting on the venue, the panellists had been requested concerning the function of structure in constructing bridges between individuals and communities.

Close up of the domed ceiling inside the St Stephen Walbrook Church
The panellists have designed buildings in among the most historic websites in London

“One of the vital underestimated abilities of an architect is to attempt to do buildings because the backdrop to metropolis life,” mentioned co-founder of Bennetts Associates Rab Bennetts.

“Not each constructing must be outstanding or to shout. A whole lot of buildings must recede into the background for my part.”

Wren Conversations: Constructing Cities occurred on 22 March 2023 at St Stephen Walbrook Church. See Dezeen Occasions Information for an up-to-date checklist of structure and design occasions going down around the globe.

Partnership content material

This competitors is a partnership between Dezeen and World Monuments Fund. Discover out extra about Dezeen partnership content material right here.