The Architecture of Prosperity

This programme evaluates the impact of the built environment on human wellbeing and the capacity for creativity. Buildings intended for domestic use and for a public purpose surround us every day and the values of those who designed them achieve expression in bricks and mortar, wood and stone, steel, glass and concrete. The structures that are engineered to secure our existence on a plot of land and which need to protect us from the elements are also designed according to standards of taste and beauty that evolve and change in the course of history. Architecture therefore is both art and craft since its practitioners strive for a synthesis of the tasteful and the functional. Some buildings encourage prosperity. Their designs provide a space within which individuals can coexist harmoniously and within that context the human mind and spirit flourish. Other buildings inhibit prosperity and lead to social dereliction, poverty and crime. Ideas and values matter in architecture since they have such a direct impact on human life—on good and bad, plenty and misery, creativity and sterility.

This programme of lectures, seminars and conferences addresses the central question of why some forms of architecture promote prosperity while others are linked to vicious effects. In providing answers to this question, the programme aims to deliver a clearer understanding of human motivation and ambition, both domestically and in the workplace. Evidence drawn from professional practitioners such as urban planners, psychologists, construction companies, framers of social policy, as well as architects and interior designers, will be crucial to reaching this understanding. And the testimony of those whose lives are made happy or miserable because of the houses, estates and offices in which they live and work will also guide 'The Architecture of Prosperity’ to its conclusions. This programme takes the notion of prosperity out of the seminar room and into the construction sites where the designs for living a life more abundant are starting to emerge in this century’s second decade.

The programme is led by Hywel Williams, Senior Adviser at the Legatum Institute.

Architecture of Prosperity video playlist


Past Events

  • Homes Not Houses: Putting Wellbeing First

    Speakers: Ciaran Abbey, consultant psychiatrist; Nicholas Boys Smith, Director, Create Streets and Legatum Fellow; Rowan Moore, Architecture Critic, The Observer and author; and Ben Page, Chief Executive, Ipsos Mori

    Date: 9 June 2016

    Details here.
  • Planning for Prosperity in the Age of Rapid Urbanisation

    Workshop hosted in partnership with the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community

    Date: 26 February 2016

    Details here.
  • The Urban Escalator

    Speaker: James Fischelis, urban consultant and designer

    Date: 10 September 2015

    Details here.
  • London Needs to Build the Right Housing—Not Just More Housing

    Speakers: Evan Davis, David Lammy MP, Ivan Massow, Yolande Barnes and Toby Lloyd

    Date: 4 June 2015

    Details here.
  • Can Architecture be (Im)Moral?

    Speaker: Charlotte Skene Catling, architect and Director, Skene Catling de la Peña

    Date: 20 May 2015

    Details here.
  • Building for the Future?

    Speaker: Jonathan Meades, writer, journalist, essayist and film-maker

    Date: 24 November 2014

    Details here.
  • What is Suburbia?

    Speakers: Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture Communications and Creative Industries (opening remarks); Oliver Green, Research Fellow, London Transport Museum; Rupa Huq, Sociology Lecturer at Kingston University; former Deputy Mayor of Ealing; Fred Manson, Urban Renewal Specialist; James Fischelis, Urban Consultant; Adam Greenfield, Senior Urban Fellow, LSE Cities

    Date: 16 October 2014

    Details here.
  • Prosperity, Community and Identity: The Built Environment and Creative Capacity

    Speaker: Nick Boles, (former) UK Minister for Planning

    Date: 24 April 2014

    Details here.