City Crit: Towering Ambition in the City of London

Take a tour through the City of London’s streets to hear about how developers, architects, engineers and city planners have transformed this financial quarter


11:00am, Saturday, 13 July 2019


01:00pm, Saturday, 13 July 2019

Tour Guide

Francis Pugh

Duration: 2.00 hrs

Meeting point: outside Trinity Square Gardens exit, Tower Hill underground station

This is a past event

AF Members and Supporters can use their codes to receive 20% discount

Join the Architecture Foundation’s expert guide Francis Pugh for a walking tour exploring the City’s “Eastern Cluster” of office towers. The primary focus will be on buildings constructed over the last forty years to house the major companies and institutions of the global insurance market, buildings like Richard Rogers’ high-tech HQ for Lloyds of London and Norman Foster’s Willis Building.

Throughout this walk there are extraordinary contrasts between the old and the new - Horace Jones’s 1880s Leadenhall Market juxtaposed with soaring new offices by an array of global architectural practices including Foster & Partners, Rogers Stirk Harbour, and KPF or the tower of Christopher Wren’s St Margaret Pattens confronting the dominant curves of Rafael Vinoly’s Walkie-Talkie. 

Not as dramatic but arguably just as important for the vast army of commuting office workers is the transformation of the public realm undertaken over the last two decades by the City of London’s planning department. It seized the opportunity provided by the consolidation of ever larger sites for major office developments to ensure that new buildings have ‘active’ street frontages – now typically filled with bars, cafes and gyms - rather than the blank walls and impenetrable facades of the architecture they replaced. Developers are also persuaded to make their buildings permeable with new public plazas and pedestrian routes, in some cases replicating the lost pattern of former medieval streets. And finally a succession of Streetscene Improvements has increased the quality and quantity of green space to make the City environment less frenetic and hostile.

Tour Guide:

Francis Pugh

Francis Pugh is a City resident and an official City of London Guide specialising in its multi-layered architectural history and the ways in which it continues to be shaped by successive waves of social and economic change. He was a lecturer in the Department of Culture, Policy & Management at City University and maintains an active interest in the cultural regeneration of towns and cities. For over ten years Francis was Higher Education Events Organiser at the V&A where he organised events that supported the Museum’s major exhibition programmes including those on Art Nouveau, International Arts & Crafts, Art Deco and Modernism. He is currently a volunteer guide at the National Trust’s Goldfinger House, 2 Willow Road, Hampstead and has contributed guided walks on architectural themes to the former City of London Festival and the V&A’s programme of Art & Design Year Courses.