19th Karlsruhe Dialogues – Speakers

Heritage at Risk: Construction Boom in London

Dr. Nigel Barker


Dr. Nigel Barker

Nigel Barker was awarded a Bachelor of Arts Degree in History of Art and Architecture and in 1985 was awarded a PH.D from Reading University for his thesis entitled “The Architecture of the English Board of Ordnance 1660-1750”. In 1982-1986 he was responsible for identifying buildings for listing in the county of Surrey and subsequently1987 was Historic Building Adviser for Surrey County Council. He completed his Post Graduate Diploma in Building Conservation at the Architectural Association which included a thesis on the availability of specialist skills in the local construction industry.

He joined English Heritage in 2001 as Historic Areas Advisor advising on new development and regeneration of historic areas, including Margate, Brighton, Hastings and Eastbourne. He became team leader for Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire advising on a portfolio of projects including community based characterisation and developing management agreements for “the Centre MK” the commercial heart of Milton Keynes new town. He joined the London office of English Heritage as Head of Partnerships in 2009 and is the nominated representative on the Mayor’s London Cultural Strategy Group. In 2013 he became English Heritage National Planning and Conservation Director for London.

One of his abiding interests is the challenge of integrating new physical and cultural interventions into historic contexts. He has worked closely with the Commission of Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) on developing and delivering the Building in Context toolkit.

Nigel Barker is a founder, member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, has served on its Council as Chairman of the SE Branch. He has published on the Board of Ordnance in “English Architecture Public and Private” and contributed to the Informed Conservation series –Margate. In 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.




1) What contribution to the quality of life and vibrancy of a city can civil society have through active citizen participation?


Active citizen participation is essential for the life and vibrancy of cities in order to enable people to withstand the increasing pressures of modern life. As population densities increase and more and more people live in cities or urban areas, such engagement becomes an important element of mental and physical well-being. Two examples in London demonstrate this vividly:

The Open Garden Squares Weekend, which is held every year, offers access to many spaces of very different character across the capital. Supported and delivered entirely by volunteers, the event involves educational activities and entertainment for all generations. It promotes social interaction and highlights the importance of green space in urban areas.

The outstanding example is the London Olympics of 2012 which transformed Londoners’ sense of themselves and the perceptions of visitors from all over the world.