WAF Conference Highlights: Day One


1 December 2021

Today we were delighted to be joined by key industry figures throughout the day as the WAF and INSIDE keynote talks kicked off. All of the presentations discussed will be available on-demand from tomorrow, so book your ticket now to catch-up. 

Hannah Harris, Chief Design Officer for the City of Helsinki, launched the day with her topic ‘Designing for the Future: Learnings from Helsinki. Harris explored why Helsinki’s existing relationship to liveable design is at the forefront of public services, urban environments, and cultural spaces.

Delegates were then taken into the world of interior with Penelope Curtis -Ex-Museum Director at the Gulbenkian Museum. She was joined by Nigel Coates, Director at Nigel Coates Studio, as she discussed the way in which buildings can inform collection hangs, and collections can inform building circulation.


Curtis illustrated the journey that visitors take when navigating their way around the facilities.

Next to the stage was MK Leung, Head of Sustainable Design at Ronald Lu & Partners. Leung’s presentation ‘Climate-ready Design for High-Density Cities’ highlighted the need to design better for the climate generation. When asked about persuading clients to support environmental ideas, Leung responded “Hong Kong is committed to carbon neutrality by 2050 and most of our clients come to us asking for environmental solutions.

Jamie Fobert, Director at Jamie Fobert Architects, then traced his studio’s journey working with visual arts, from early exhibition design to temporary galleries. He drew on his experience with Stirling Prize Shortlisted Tate St Ives and current project – reconfiguring the National Portrait Gallery.


Jamie Fobert discussing the Tate St Ives

Next up, Professor Alan Penn (The Bartlett, UCL and Chief Scientific Adviser at the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities) took centre stage. His lecture ‘Pandemic Learning’ discussed the implication on architecture post-pandemic, he discussed the importance of creating space and ventilation within buildings.

Founder partner, GROHE, took the stage next with a masterclass hosted by Karl Lennon, Leader BU Projects A&D for LIXIL EMENA, he provided an insight into what the circular economy and the cradle-to-cradle strategy are, and how C2C certified® bathrooms and kitchens can contribute to the circular economy.

During lunch, delegates were treated to a lecture by Sir Peter Cook – Architect, Professor & Writer joined the event from Los Angeles. His lecture ‘The Rediscovery of Distance’ drew on his experience during the pandemic and viewing architecture from the outside as the interior was closed. Cook also studied the architecture points of Regents Park, in London, including the rose garden and private areas that are partially hidden from view.




CVDB Aruitetos Associados Co-Founders and curators for Trienal de Arquitectura de Lisboa, Diogo Burnay and Christina Veríssimo, then participate in a panel discussion looking at Art in Space chaired by WAF’s Jeremy Melvin. They addressed Multipicity looking at how design and architecture can address inequality.

INSIDE keynote, Kirsten Lees - Partner at Grimshaw, then outlined Grimshaw’s Arter project, she explored the client’s aspirations to breakdown barrier to contemporary art have been achieved by creating an open building that positively impacts the community.

Savage + Dodd Architects’ Director, Heather Dodd, reflected on resetting Johannesburg, she looked at the structural inequality and the impact on the carbon economy. Dodd stated that ‘place matters and space matters’ when balancing the structural inequality that was highlighted on a global scale during the covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement.




Johannesburg hosts one of the largest man-made urban forests in the world

Rick Bell, Adjunct Associate Professor and Deputy Director at Columbia University, followed. Bell illustrated the need to concentrate on green buildings, public space, transit, housing, and regional connectivity.

The penultimate session of the day featured Tim Fendley, CEO and Creative Director at the Applied Information Group. During his technology focused presentation, titled Star Wars Cities, Fendley discussed his work with cities, institutions, and transport networks across the globe.

Alan Maskin, Principal & Owner at Olson Kundig, then closed the conference part of the day with his INSIDE keynote presentation ‘The Tension Between Collaboration and Autonomy’ in a session chaired once again by Nigel Coates.

Finally, delegates joined kreon's Sales Director, Marnix Schrooyen, as he announced that United Lisbon International School by Capinha Lopes Consulting/Elegant Group had won this year's ‘Lisbon Prize’ which recognises and celebrates the best building in the city. The winning team - Eduardo Capinha Lopes (Architect), Rita Folgado (Internal Architect from the Developer - the Elegant Group), Chitra Stern (CEO, Developer - the Elegant Group) followed the announcement with a short presentation and Q&A about the 2021 winning project.

Throughout the day delegates were also shown the first of a series of Frozen Music videos from ABB that will run throughout the event starring International Key Account Manager, Katrin Foerster and a series of videos from GROHE titled ‘Wow of the Week.’ All of today’s presentations and more are available on demand. Book your digital pass now.

What’s on tomorrow?

Book now to ask your questions live to Ben Van Berkel, Paul Williams, Vincente Guallart, David Green, Joanna Bacon, Artur Carulla, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Sergey Kuznetsov, Simon Sturgis, Cany Ash, Neil Spiller, Spencer de Grey, Nigel Coates, Ian Ritchie, Nadia Tromp and Jeanne Gang.

Plus discover more GROHE wow of the weeks, ABB’s Frozen Music featuring Katrin Foerster and another masterclass hosted by Karl Lennon.

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