The next AHRA International Conference

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

Fri 21 Jun—Sat 22 Jun 2024

RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London

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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 (mostly architects) became known to RIBA and its Refugee Committee, either directly or via other refugee organisations. Some of these architects had already achieved recognition, while others had barely managed to embark on their careers.

Some succeeded in emigrating and rebuilding their lives abroad. Of those who stayed behind, many did not survive the war. The Refugee Committee Papers, which include the related correspondence and record the activities of the committee, are held in the RIBA Archives and have inspired ongoing research on the topic, of which this conference would be the first major output.

To highlight these individuals and their extraordinary work, RIBA will be hosting a hybrid conference, planned to take place at 66 Portland Place in London during Refugee Week on 21 and 22 June 2024.

The conference seeks to give back a voice to those often-forgotten architects and to celebrate their lives and their work. It also 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.

Call for papers

As part of the conference programme, we are looking for 30 minute papers that can shed light on the work and fate of architects who tried to emigrate from Germany, the former Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Hungary due to religious, ethnic or political persecution.

Please contact before sending your abstract so that we can confirm the architect(s) you are researching are among those who came to the attention of RIBA during this time.

We would also welcome papers on the more general topic of the migration of architects from central Europe to a specific country such as the United States, Canada, Australia etc.

Interested participants are invited to submit the following, no later than 5pm (BST) on 15 April 2024:

  • presentation title
  • 300 word abstract of your paper
  • brief biography

We strongly encourage participants to consider presenting rather than reading their papers. Please email your submission to