Peter Barber: 100 Mile City and Other Stories

The British architect presents his innovative housing projects and speculative urban designs.

October 21, 2021
12:00 p.m.

Peter Barber Architects | McGrath Road, London, UK, 2019. Image credit: Morley von Sternberg

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

This fall and early winter, Current Work spotlights influential and innovative design practices that bring widely varying perspectives to contemporary housing challenges.

Peter Barber is the founder and director of Peter Barber Architects, a studio reshaping London’s approach to social housing. His residential projects “read as much as urban manifestos as homes,” according to Metropolis, offering provocative, humane responses to today’s compounded urban housing crises. Formally, his work revives a wide variety of historic spatial and stylistic typologies. As one critic recently observed, Barber achieves “a kind of militant, architectural evangelism, pushing boundaries of design, chivvying the political class and renegotiating housing’s wider social contract with the city.” 

 Recent housing projects include:

  • McGrath Road, a 26-unit housing development in East London conceived by the firm as “a radical reworking of ‘back of pavement terraces’ and ‘back to back’ house types.” 
  • Holmes Road Studios, a residential and counseling facility for unhoused people in North London.
  • 365 Cities, a series of speculative projects shared daily via Instagram, defined by Barber as “an attempt to design a city a day for a year.”

Following Barber’s presentation, he will be joined by Florian Idenburg, co-founding principal of Brooklyn-based SO-IL, and Sarah Watson, deputy director of the policy and research organization Citizens Housing and Planning Council, for a discussion of his work, as well as of the current state of housing design and its intersection with policy. The discussion will be moderated by League executive director Rosalie Genevro.

Peter Barber worked with Richard Rogers, Will Alsop, and Jestico+Whiles prior to establishing his own practice in 1989. He is currently a lecturer and reader in architecture at the University of Westminster. In 2021, he received the AJ100 Contribution to the Profession Award, as well as an Order of the British Empire for services to architecture. His work has been short-listed twice for the international Aga Khan Award for Architecture, and his projects have received numerous Housing Design Awards, RIBA Awards, and AIA Awards.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The event is co-presented by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.