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Reading London

LSE Cities Programme discussion

Date: Saturday 13 February 2010
Time:  1-2.30pm
Venue:  Sheikh Zayed Theatre, New Academic Building
Speakers: Will Alsop, Professor Rosemary Ashton, Leo Hollis, Hans Ulrich Obrist
Chair: Dr Fran Tonkiss

Update, Tuesday 9 February: Dan Cruikshank can no longer participate in this panel due to unforeseen circumstances.  Will Alsop will now be joining the panel.

How do we attempt to understand the sprawling "modern Babylon" that is London, with its layers of social, political and cultural history? Can art, architecture and literature help us to 'read' this complex city?

Will Alsop OBE is Design Principal at RMJM’s European flagship office in London, and is one of Britain’s most renowned architects  Alsop has worked extensively across the UK and internationally with major projects in cities such as Toronto, Marseilles, Hamburg, Shanghai, Singapore and New York. Recent projects in the UK include the ‘Chips’ apartments in Manchester, ‘The Public’ exhibition space in West Bromwich and a luxury hotel development on the banks of the River Thames. Famed for his bold and colourful approach to design, he has won many awards internationally, including the coveted Stirling Prize in 2000 for the Peckham Library in London.

Rosemary Ashton is Quain Professor of English Language and Literature at UCL, and the lead investigator of a 3-year Leverhulme funded research project studying the growth of Bloomsbury from swampy waste land to London's intellectual and cultural centre. Her most recent book is a cultural study of a literary group surrounding the publisher John Chapman: 142 Strand: A Radical Address in Victorian London (2006).

Leo Hollis was born in London and educated at Stonyhurst College. He read history at the University of East Anglia. he has written on both the history of London and Paris. The Phoenix: the Men Who Made Modern London (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2008) was described by The Economist as 'A tour de force of biography, history, politics, philosophy and experimental science.' He has written for the Financial Times, Sunday Telegraph, Independent on Sunday and History Today. He lives in London with his wife and two children and is currently working in The Stones of London: the History of a World City for 2011.

Hans Ulrich Obrist became Co-director of Exhibitions and Programmes and Director of International Projects at the Serpentine Gallery in April 2006, joining Julia Peyton-Jones, the Serpentine Gallery Director. Prior to this he was Curator of the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris since 2000, as well as curator of museum in progress, Vienna, from 1993-2000. The Serpentine Gallery Marathon series of public events was conceived by Hans Ulrich Obrist in 2006. The first in the series, the Interview Marathon, London: A Portrait of a City in 2006, involved interviews with leading figures in contemporary culture over 24 hours, conducted by Obrist and architect Rem Koolhaas.


A copy of Professor Rosemary Ashton's slides are now available online:

Download: Reading London (pdf)


A podcast of this event is available to download from the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

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LSE Literary Festival 2010
Literary Festival 2010