Ken Worpole

Ken Worpole

Ken Worpole is a writer and social historian, whose work includes many books on architecture, landscape and public policy. He is married to photographer Larraine Worpole with whom he has collaborated on book projects internationally, as well as in Hackney, London, where they have lived and worked since 1969.

His principal interests concern the planning and design of new settlements, landscapes and public institutions - streets, parks, playgrounds, libraries, informal education - based on the pioneering achievements of 20th century social democracy and the environmental movement. In recent years he has focused on recovering the social history of communitarian experiments in both town and country, drawing lessons for the creation of new residential and environmentally sustainable forms of settlement for an ageing population.

Ken has served on the UK government’s Urban Green Spaces Task Force, on the Expert Panel of the Heritage Lottery Fund, and as an adviser to the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment. He was a founder member of the Demos think-tank and of Opendemocracy.

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Worpole is a literary original, a social and architectural historian whose books combine the Orwellian ideal of common decency with understated erudition. .
Jason Cowley, New Statesman, 30 July 2021

In Modern Hospice Design Ken Worpole traces a path out of the darkness and into the light, from the Victorian asylum or sanatorium, devised to punish the sick, to the hospice movement and its assertion that even those who can't be made well by clinical medicine are entitled to be treated by the medical profession with not just dignity but something like love.
Times Literary Supplement, 2010 review of the first edition

This highly recommended book stimulates thought of the most visceral and emotionally haunting questions of architecture.
The Journal of Housing,Theory & Society of the first edition of Modern Hospice Design

Worpole's book (Modern Hospice Design) speaks directly to designers and health care professionals to take this opportunity to engage with the deeper issues of ritual and occasion.
Journal of Design History

For many years, Ken Worpole has been one of the shrewdest and sharpest observers of the English social landscape.
The Independent

Published October 2023

Modern Hospice Design: the architecture of palliative and social care (Second Edition)

Modern Hospice Design 2ndEd cover

Ken Worpole

The much-expanded new edition of Modern Hospice Design: the architecture of palliative and social care, was published on 6 October 2023.

At the heart of this edition - now supported by 50 colour photographs plus architectural and landscape plans and drawings - are case studies detailing four very different but bold and imaginative approaches to social care: Lark Hill, an impressive retirement village for more than 400 residents in Nottingham with an ambitious programme of communal activities; St Wildfrid's inspiring new hospice in Eastbourne with its own orchard gardens and inviting atrium café and facilities for patients, visitors and the local community; a new ‘woodland’ Maggie’s Southampton in the grounds of the city's large general hospital; and the stunning new Appleby Blue Almshouse in Southwark with a focus on a welcoming public lounge and extensive courtyard and rooftop gardens, already receiving amazing reviews.

Published by Routledge, October 2023: special reduction available


Ken's latest blog: A House at the End of Life

Links to feature essays & talks:

The Land Question (Times Literary Supplement, 2020) 

How pandemics shape town planning (New Statesman, 2020)

The Essex Deluge (New Statesman, 2019)

Listen to Ken's essay, Brightening from the East, on Radio 3

Listen to Ken's BBC Radio 4 'Open Country' programme:

Watch Ken in conversation with artist Michael Landy:

Watch: Ken in conversation with artist Richard Wentworth at arebyte gallery, November 2017

Watch: Ken’s talk on landscape values at the 2015 Doughnut Festival

Now available: 'Unfamiliar Territories' a new film by Jacob Cartwright of Ken Worpole in conversation with Patrick Wright on place, politics and history.