Wright & Wright joins our 'Cultural Cities' forum this September
Lambeth Palace Library addition - interior and garden elevation (Credit: Hufton + Crow for Wright & Wright Architects)
We are delighted that Stephen Smith, Partner at architecture firm, Wright & Wright, will be joining our 'Cultural Cities' forum alongside Lord Mendoza, Commissioner for Cultural Recovery at the DCMS.
Stephen joined the firm in 2005 and during his time there has worked on cultural projects that include the ground-breaking Hull Truck Theatre, and more recently Lambeth Palace Library, the British Academy, Magdalen College, Oxford and the Royal Academy of Engineering Hub.
A significant new addition to London's civic architecture, Lambeth Palace Library is the first new building on the site for 185 years and hosts the Church of England's archive, the most important collection of religious books, manuscripts and archives in Europe, after the Vatican.
The building is a sensitive yet distinctly modern architectural addition to the site of the Grade 1 listed Palace. Nestling in amongst mature trees at the north end of the garden at Lambeth Palace, the building sits on the south bank of the Thames, opposite Parliament. The location preserves the collection's historic link to the Palace, while increasing public accessibility to the Library. In the new building the historic collections of Lambeth Palace Library - founded in 1610 and one of the earliest public libraries in the UK - and the records of the Church of England will be brought together, replacing inadequate facilities in a warehouse in Bermondsey, that risked the future of the collection.
The contemporary redbrick building has four and five-storey wings, rising to a nine-storey tower, crowned by a viewing platform, that will be periodically open to the public. The central tower is designed to register on London's skyline, aligning it with historical architectural commissions by Archbishops of Canterbury over the centuries, and reflecting the national significance of the collection. In tandem, the viewing platform, which has direct sight lines across the Thames to the Palace of Westminster, reinforces the connection between the Church and the State embodied in the collection.
Stephen will join the Head of The Bodleian Libraries, Richard Ovenden, and the Cultural and Learning Lead for The British Library, Jamie Andrews.
The forum will discuss the future for cultural institutions post pandemic, the success of the Cultural Recovery Fund, the economic levelling up that culture can bring to the regions and our ailing high streets. The event will also look at the importance of libraries as cultural infrastructure for towns and cities.
Stephen is a consultant to the Glass-House Community-Led-Design, and is a member of the Historic England Advisory Committee. He has a first-class degree from the University of Cambridge, where he won the Sir Leslie Martin Prize. He spent a year on a scholarship at MIT as part of his diploma, while also taking classes at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.