This year the London Society and its members have enjoyed the Society’s most extensive programme for some years; nearly 60 events attracting close to 2,500 attendees.
One of our major themes for the year was London’s Great Estates
, looking at their role in the capital and how their long-term stewardship has shaped the character of some of central London’s best known neighbourhoods. Engaging talks from Grosvenor, Cadogan, the City of London Corporation
and Argent, the developer behind the remodelling of King’s Cross, were complemented by walking tours of the areas and privileged access to some distinctive buildings within the estates’ portfolios.
In fact it was a bumper year for our ever-popular programme of guided walks, with visits to Brixton
, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Chancery Lane
, Bermondsey, Bloomsbury, Spitalfields, and Greenwich among the highlights. In addition there were exclusive members’ tours of Bush House and the Charterhouse. Architects Barr Gazetas showed us new ways of living and working at the Camden Interchange, and the director of the Design Museum
, Deyan Sudjic, treated members to a personal after-hours tour of the museum’s new home in Kensington’s listed Commonwealth Institute building.
Other themes included our ongoing ‘London Icons’ series where speakers examined objects and places that are quintessentially ‘London’. Jonathan Glancey celebrated the Routemaster bus, but Stephen Bayley firmly stuck the boot into the black cab. Architect Liam Hennessey
demonstrated how the dispiriting six-lane highway that is Park Lane could be refreshed as a boulevard, Sarah Gaventa shared the planning and designs behind the ‘Illuminated River’ project and Andrew Ritchie, designer of the original Brompton folding bike, told the story of his creation and let us in on his plans for future development.
We also debated the future of the capital with a lively panel discussion
between those for and against development on the Green Belt, a concept incidentally that owes its existence to the London Society. There was a presentation on what the ‘smart cities’ idea could contribute to everyday life in the capital, and Emily Gee of Historic England
explained the history and future of London’s tall buildings. Loyd Grossman CBE gave this year's Banister Fletcher Lecture
on the future of the Royal Parks.
[caption id="attachment_2118" align="alignright" width="345"] ©Agnese Sanvito[/caption]
This year we also launched a completely new concept, one that we will definitely return to in 2018, in the shape of our Saturday Schools. Over five weeks in spring, expert lecturers took us on a journey through the history of London’s architecture
, from the medieval to the 21st century city. This was followed in autumn with an introduction to planning, in which a experts provided an overview of how and why UK cities, and London in particular, have grown in the way they have.
It was encouraging that many of this year’s events sold out. As a result, for 2018 we will be extending our priority booking system for members so that you have more opportunity to get discounted tickets before they are made available to the general public. You can find reports of most of the year's events here on the website. Next year’s programme is already filling up, so be sure to check londonsociety.org.uk/events to see just what is being planned.