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Wright & Wright to speak at Future Cities Forum on cultural infrastructure

Above: Stephen Smith of Wright & Wright Architects

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Stephen Smith, Partner at architecture practice, Wright & Wright, will be speaking about the value of libraries to cultural infrastructure in cities, at our event this September, to be held in the historic boardroom at the V&A Museum, South Kensington.

Stephen joined Wright & Wright in 2005 and became a partner in 2011. Cultural projects 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 Enterprise 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 I 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 are being 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 central 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 has also worked on several schools projects, including St Paul’s School, London, Summer Fields School, Oxford and the award-winning Newlands Academy in London, for students with special educational needs.

As well as practising, Stephen is a consultant to the Glass-House Community-Led-Design, and is a member of the Historic England Advisory Committee. Stephen also taught a second year design studio at Cambridge University School of Architecture for five years.

Stephen has a first-class degree from the University of Cambridge, where he won the Sir Leslie Martin Prize and the Dissertation Prize as an undergraduate. 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.

Below: Lambeth Palace Library (Wright & Wright Architects)


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