UCL Urban Laboratory


The Ring of Steel: A Walking Tour Around the City of London

08 September 2019, 11:30 am–1:00 pm

A section of the London Wall in the City of London surrounded by housing blocks

Walking tour revealing the hidden structures of the ‘Ring of Steel’ – a security installation around the City of London’s financial district that mirrors the boundary line of the ancient Roman structures of the London Wall

Event Information

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Open City Documentary Festival
+44(0)20 3108 6693


Commercial Street
E1 6AA

First introduced to counter the IRA bombing campaign of the early 1990s, the ‘Ring of Steel’ acts as a heavily surveilled invisible boundary to protect the financial centre of London.

Led by artist and researcher Henrietta Williams in collaboration with UCL Urban Laboratory and the Open City Documentary Festival, we will meander through the streets of the Square Mile passing by sentry boxes and carefully designed bollards, one-way roads and heavily fortified flower planting – all hidden systems of so-called fortress urbanism. We will notice how public streets have shifted to private space, trace the introduction of CCTV cameras into urban space, and probably be chased away by private security guards. Contemporary defense blends with the brick and stone of the Roman Wall in a complex manifestation of urban security that is easily revealed once you know what to look for.

Ticket holders will receive full details of the meeting point by email.

About the Speaker

Henrietta Williams

Henrietta Williams' practice explores urbanist theories; particularly considering ideas around fortress urbanism, security, and surveillance. Her projects have been widely exhibited and published in the UK and internationally, most notably at the V&A Museum in London and on the front page of The Guardian. She is now working towards a funded PhD by design at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, where she also teaches with a particular focus on moving image practice that critically engages with the urban landscape. She is a contributor to the Urban Laboratory anthology Engaged Urbanism: Cities and Methodologies.

More about Henrietta Williams