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Villa Loew-Beer, Brno, by Rudolf Baumfeld & Norbert Schlesinger / RIBA Collections

Displaced Lives: Architects seeking refuge on the brink of the Second World War

Join us as part of Refugee Week for this hybrid conference that seeks to give back a voice to the architects who tried to escape Nazi-occupied Europe in the late 1930s.

In January 1939, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) set up a special committee to deal with the increasing number of requests for assistance from architects situated in Nazi-occupied central Europe. Between 1938 and 1941, more than 200 individuals became known to RIBA and its Refugee Committee, either directly or via other refugee organisations.

As part of Refugee Week (17 to 23 June 2024), RIBA is hosting a hybrid conference during Refugee Week to highlight these individuals and their extraordinary work. The conference seeks to give back a voice to those often-forgotten architects and to celebrate their lives and their work.

The conference aims to provide a better understanding of the phenomenon of migration in the late 1930s of one particular profession from continental Europe to the United Kingdom and beyond.

Friday speakers

  • Dr Anthony Grenville - The arrival of the refugees from Nazisim in Britain after 1933 and their initial reception
  • Valeria Carullo - The RIBA Refugee Committee
  • Ágnes Anna Sebestyén - Creative Escape Routes: The Work of Gusztáv Feuer and Auguszta Kurz in Prague and Budapest in the interwar period
  • Dr Stefano Poli - Eugenio Giacomo Faludi (Budapest 1896 to Toronto 1981): architect and planner between Italy, London, and Canada
  • Dr Irena Murray - "Buoyant Against Adversity": Czech and Slovak architects look to Britain
  • Professor Vladimir Šlapeta - Jacques Groag, architect in Olomouc, Vienna, Prague, and London
  • Dr Lenka Kerdová - Erwin (Ervin) Katona and interwar “German” architecture in Prague
  • Dr Zuzana Güllendi-Cimprichova - Czech Jewish architect Karl Kohn and his work between Czechoslovakia and Ecuador
  • Professor Henrieta Moravčíková - Lost on the way to the promised land
  • Dr Peter Papp - Ideas in transit

Saturday speakers

  • Daniele Abreu e Lima - Jewish refugees architects in New Zealand
  • Rebecca Hawcroft - Challenges and Opportunities: The Émigré Architect experience in Australia
  • Catherine Townsend - Diaspora destination: Modern Jewish Melbourne 1937 to 1979
  • Dr Caroline Wohlgemuth - Visionary Architecture and Design from Vienna: Vienna’s forgotten architects
  • Professor Gary Boyd - Donkeys, Pit-ponies and Socialism: The Architectures of Egon Riss
  • Ivanna Bakhaieva - Presentation by RIBA John and David Hubert Bursary grant recipient
  • Professor Volker M. Welter - Four German-speaking Émigré architects in California
  • Janet Parks - Felix Augenfeld: Vienna, London, New York
  • Dr Agnes Grunwald-Spier MBE - The persecuted Jewish architects who fled the Nazis and created the architecture of Israel
  • Zuzanna Krzyzanowska - The legacy of the Polish School of Architecture in Liverpool during WWII

Download the full conference programme (PDF, 723 KB)

Conference information

Discounted ticket prices are available for RIBA Members and Students.

A Microsoft Teams link will be sent to online attendees closer to the event. This conference will be recorded and made available online at a later date.

The Displaced Lives conference is supported by a grant from The Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR)

AJR The Associations of Jewish Refugees blue and orange logo