19th Karlsruhe Dialogues – Speakers

Civil Society and Urban Change – Lessons from London

Peter Murray


Peter Murray

Peter Murray Hon FRIBA FRSA AoU (The Royal Institute of British Architects, Royal Society of Arts, The Academy of Urbanism) is chairman of New London Architecture, chairman of The London Society, founder and director of The London Festival of Architecture, deputy chairman of the Bedford Park Society, and member of the Mayor of London’s Design Advisory Group. He was formerly editor of Building Design and of the RIBA Journal, as well as publisher of Blueprint magazine. Murray is founding president of Wordsearch, a global design and marketing consultancy specialising in architecture and real estate. He is visiting professor at IE University in Madrid and author of numerous books including The Saga of Sydney Opera House (2004). He is a keen cyclist. In 2014 Murray was recognised by The Sunday Times/Debrett’s as one of Britain’s 20 Most Influential People in Architecture.




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

Citizen participation can reshape cities in the face of unthinking bureaucracy, sybaritic demand, and big industry. Over the past century we have allowed quality of life in cities to be destroyed by the motor vehicle. Slowly but surely citizen action is changing the way streets and roads are perceived and used – changes that are beginning to form and drive the political agenda.

2. In how far do cities have a responsibility for the coexistence of cultures and the emergence of a collective identity?

Cities that have been built on international trade are, as a result, multicultural and comprehend the benefits of diversity. In this way they differ from countries where tribal differences are more resilient.
The collective identity of a city is reflected in civic pride which is a positive force for the physical and social experience of the city.