University Design Forum Annual Conference 2023 – delegate pack now included

Date & Time:29th/30th June 2023

This year’s annual conference has now taken place.  Conference report to follow.  Conference presentations are available here.


This year’s Annual Conference will be held on the 29th and 30th of June at the Mile End campus of Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

The theme of the conference is The Learning City and the conference will consider the relationship between higher education institutions and the cities or towns in which they are located. The sub themes are urban, social, enterprise, economic regeneration and increase connectivity between universities and their communities.

Highlights include:

  • Keynote presentations by Michael Pawlyn from Architects Declare and Ibrahim Ibrahim from Portland Design.
  • Pre-conference campus tours in the morning, with presentations and visits to current projects at the Mile End campus in the afternoon.
  • Conference sessions including QMUL’s initiatives with business and communities linked to the School of Business and Management, and the ambitious future Life Sciences Cluster at Whitechapel for QMUL, Barts Health NHS Trust, the GLA and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
  • Conference session focused on university design and urban connections and regeneration in Birmingham, Glasgow and Bristol.
  • A PechaKucha session on recent university projects and the recent reference visit to universities in Berlin.
  • Discussion panel on the Blizard Building at Whitechapel, an innovate design by Will Alsop twenty years ago, completed in 2005 and now undergoing refurbishment.
  • Discussion Panel on ‘The Open Campus’ and the complexities of designing universities in cities to be both accessible and secure.
  • The Student Prize at the School of Architecture, University of Kent
  • Discussion session to contribute into current research on Zero Carbon university buildings.
  • Live architectural drawing demonstration by Bill Hunt, Artist in Residence.
  • Networking Conference Dinner in the historic surroundings of the Octagon.

Ticket prices:

£275: Discounted Forum Member / Discounted non-member HEI*

£350: Full price non-member

*maximum 2 discounted tickets per member organisation/non-member HEI. Additional tickets can be purchased at the non-discounted rate.

Ticket price includes full attendance, drinks reception and networking dinner on 29th June.


The conference is being organised in partnership with QMUL and will be held in the historic People’s Palace at Mile End, originally opened by Queen Victoria to provide cultural activities to the communities of East London, a counterpoint to Crystal Palace in South London and Alexandra Palace in North London.  The building was completely destroyed by fire in 1931 and was rebuilt on its current site in an art deco style with sculpture by Eric Gill on the façade. This year, the conference will include a networking dinner at the end of the first day which will be held in the Octagon in the historic Queen’s Building.  Built in 1887, the Octagon was originally the Queen Mary library, designed by Victorian architect ER Robson and inspired by the Reading Room at the British Museum.  Restored in 2006, the bookshelves are filled with leather-bound books and the busts of famous literati look down from the high domed ceiling.

Recent/current projects, which are both new buildings and reworking and adaptation of existing buildings, include the new Graduate Centre designed by Wilkinson Eyre, the refurbishment and extension of the Mathematics Building designed by Kendall Kingscott, the refurbishment of the Engineering Building designed by RHPartnership and fitting out of Department W on the Mile End Road designed by Arcadis.  QMUL is a partner in the Whitechapel Life Sciences Cluster and is currently progressing proposals for a new Business School along the canal with Nicholas Hare Architects.

Queen Mary has two campuses located in the diverse vibrant east end of London.  One of the best-known modern buildings is the Blizard Building designed by Will Alsop and completed in 2005, one of a new generation of university scientific and medical research buildings at the time.  During the conference we will explore lessons for the future from looking back at the Blizard and how it has performed over the last 20 years.

Delegate pack, includes programme

We would like to thank our primary sponsor, Trilogy Real Estate LLP, for their support
We would also like to express our thanks to our confirmed supporting sponsors