Open City welcomes new Director, Phineas Harper


Open City are delighted to welcome Phineas Harper as the new Director.

Phineas has been the deputy director of the Architecture Foundation for the last five years where he has been working with Ellis Woodman to reboot the organisation. Alongside his work there, he was chief curator of the Oslo Architecture Triennale, the Nordic based architecture festival addressing urban challenges.

He brings extensive experience in public programming, education, charity management and critical engagement with the built environment. Prior to the Architecture Foundation, Phineas was the deputy editor of the Architectural Review and a trustee of the educational children’s charity, Woodcraft Folk. He has written widely on the intersection of architecture and politics and in 2017 he co-founded New Architecture Writers — a free writing programme for aspiring BAME design critics.

We at Open City have been at the forefront of ethical city-making since being founded in 1992. Arguably now more than ever, the conversations and public programmes Open City provide are needed to critically engage with challenges such as the climate emergency and the major social issues that shape practice, place and people. It is a pivotal time for all urban practitioners who are committed to making London a truly equitable, adventurous and open city. Phineas’ experience and enthusiasm are sure to add a new dynamic to what it means to be an ‘open’ city.

Phineas sees Open City as “a much-loved and hugely dynamic organisation bringing together thousands of volunteers across its diverse programme to explore and develop the ethics of city-making on a genuinely public stage. Some of its projects, like Open House are now world famous, part of a network of 40 cities across the globe. Others, like the pioneering Accelerate programme, have broken new ground in diversifying architectural education and practice.” Phineas says that he is “honoured to be joining the Open City team – instigating meaningful public debate about the future of the city has never been more urgent. I can’t wait to begin.”

Phineas will take up his position at the beginning of April 2020 where he will be thrown straight in to working on further developing and growing our well-established and much-loved projects, such as Open House and the Open House Tours. He will be a leading force in further establishing the newer projects such as Citymaking sessions, a convention centred on the promotion of true collaboration between professional disciplines and citizen-led initiatives.

Phineas succeeds Rory Olcayto who leaves Open City after four years to take up a new position at Pollard Thompson Edwards Architects (PTE) as writer and critic.