The Challenge of the Johannes Kepler Winchester International Symposium is to examine the evolution and significance of architecture for society and to evaluate the practical steps we can take to best influence our surroundings for social, material and spiritual progress over time.
Hello and welcome to Prague,
It is a matter of great honour and delight to us to be able to organize and host the 2014 Johannes Kepler – Winchester International Symposium, this year’s session of that traditional and thoroughly unique gathering of students from the most prestigious secondary schools in ten countries scattered throughout the world.
The theme of this, the fifth year of the Symposium is Architecture as Witness to its Own Time – a theme which is of very special relevance here in the city of Prague. We are suitably proud of our city, and we feel convinced that it has a great deal to offer students from all over the world. It is a city that lies in the very heart of Europe, a city that throughout the centuries of its past has been witness not only to numerous significant historical and cultural events but also to tempestuous social change.
For these reasons we have prepared a programme that aims to give our guests some idea of why we are so proud of our Prague and its uniqueness whilst also affording them the opportunity to consider the theme of this year’s Symposium from a variety of angles and acquainting them with the views and opinions of experts regarding various architectural issues that have been of particular relevance during the past year.
We are well aware that a large number of participants in this year’s Symposium will have no intention of either studying architecture or becoming involved in the field in a professional capacity. However, each and every one of those participants, each and every one of us all, lives – and shall live – within an environment that shapes us into what we are, within an environment in whose formation we, too, in some way or other, may come to play a role.
I therefore wish us all a happy and fruitful Johannes Kepler – Winchester International Symposium 2014 and, in the years to come, wonderful memories of a week spent together in our city.
Welcome once again to Prague. Welcome once again to the Johannes Kepler Grammar School.
It gives me great pleasure to welcome all participants and guests to the fifth Winchester International Symposium, here at Johannes Kepler Grammar School. I extend a particular welcome to those students from our previous four symposia who will join the fifth anniversary dinner at the end of the week.
Each year, students from our global group of ten outstanding schools come together to discuss the practical steps that can be taken to tackle enduring and complex problems. Six months of online discussions, contemplation, and essay writing precede a week where students exchange those ideas in person, and with some of the world’s leading experts. From the subject of economics, education, and equality in Winchester in 2010, to healthcare in Nashville in 2011, to leadership in Singapore in 2012, to poverty in Johannesburg in 2013, and now to architecture in society in Prague in 2014, the Symposium has always required students to combine intellectual rigour with an awareness of the complexity of the real world.
This year’s Symposium Challenge is to examine the evolution and significance of architecture in society, and to evaluate the practical steps we can take to best influence our surroundings for social, material, and spiritual progress over time. Our students have examined a variety of architectural themes in their online work: architecture as a marker of time and place; architecture as a testimony to artistic and cultural evolution; architecture’s reflection of ideology; and the effect of architecture on the individual. Each school has also studied, and will present, a local architectural example of one of these themes. Students have worked with their customary verve and intellectual curiosity, and with great independence of mind. There is no place for cliché or simple conformity of view in the Symposium, and this collaborative yet critical forum is a wonderful reminder of the power of intelligent debate, particularly when allied to a determination to bring about meaningful change.
I look forward to greeting the participants of JKWIS 2014, knowing that during the next week – and beyond – they will add another sparkling chapter to the already brilliant history of the Winchester International Symposium.