The Living Memory of Cities

2022 - 2023 Programme

2021 - 2022 Programme

2020 - 2021 Programme

The Living Memory of Cities is a project originally conceived as an international symposium by Dr José de Paiva (Eric Parry Architects) at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Portugal. In dialogue with members of the research group Ecological, Architectural and Civic Humanities in Design (EACHiD), it developed into a multi-stage research and knowledge exchange collaboration with& Eric Parry Architects (EPA). Acknowledging the lasting nature of our interventions at the urban scale – as architects and other built environment practitioners – the project aims to examine the city of the present and future in relation to themes of collective memory, cultural continuity, social justice and the public good. The investigation draws together an international network of thinkers and designers, writers and urban actors to determine the impact of recent social, economic, technological and environmental transformations on the collective memory and civic realm of cities, with London as a significant case-study.

The research identifies challenges in these transformations, in particular the way the cultural and built fabric of London and other cities are being rapidly altered through large-scale urban redevelopments, often involving the erasure or substantial appropriation of existing social and spatial structures. The consequences of these initiatives – implemented in the name of progress, often for the benefit of outward international investment – is that the local conditions of urban life are being replaced by generic global models of successful corporate/commercial activity, applied to cities around the world. This project provides a context for critically examining the long-term impact of such urban interventions, and for debate concerning alternative strategies that would aim to preserve, sustain or reinvent existing urban conditions

Through a series of seminars organised into three seasons, running from November 2020 to April 2023, the project facilitates knowledge exchange between practitioners, planners, academics, students and the general public. The investigation is driven by an ambition to influence and enrich the way decisions concerning the transformations of London and other cities are made. It is argued that urban change requires both a bottom-up approach by galvanising public interest in the earlier stages of a project, coupled with engagement from the top down by involving organisations and institutions that have influence and carry power. The contribution of the Research Assistant (RA) team members at all stages, and support staff at partner organisations, has been invaluable.

A view over a wide pedestrian bridge with a silhouette of Prague beyond.

Image: Charles Bridge, Prague. Photography by Kiko Léon.

Project details

Research Team

Daria Buhanovska (RA)
Prof. Christian Frost (EACHiD)
Dr Kirsten Jeske Thompson (RA)

Research Centre

Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies (CUBE)

Research Group

Ecological, Architectural and Civic Humanities in Design (EACHiD)


October 2020 - July 2023

2020 - 2021 Programme