London was host to The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) in June, a month-long city-wide celebration of architectural experimentation, thinking, learning and practice.
The festival ran more than 200 events across the city, with the grandeur of the various structures exhibited enjoyed by thousands of visitors. Temporary pavilions included the Serpentine Gallery Summer Pavilion by Smiljan Radic, the Museum of London’s House of Muses by Gruppe, the Architectural Association’s Rainforest pavilion by GUN Architects, and Dream Pavilion, winner of ArchTriumph, by IPT Architects. There were also a host of architectural evenings and special tours, which included special access to London’s tallest towers and the subterranean world of the underground system.
This years LFA didn’t just focus on the creativity and beauty of architecture however, with CAPITAL as the central theme, LFA 2014 explored London’s dynamism and architectural and design drivers, with a broad examination of its role and the ways in which its cultural, human, economic, natural, social and digital capital shape London’s architecture and public spaces.
Expert guided tours organised by the Greater London Authority took place across eight London town centres and high streets. The experts covered issues thought critical to the future evolution of the city, including London’s vertical development, the capital’s high streets and the housing crisis.
Further highlights included The International Architecture Showcase, run by the British Council. This was a returning feature from last year’s event with a residency programme that brought architects from around the world together to explore new ideas for Poplar. The residency culminated in an all-day ‘carnival’ at the Balfron Tower, which featured presentations, tours in and around the tower, film screenings, exhibitions and a series of public workshops. Other international exhibitions included Contemporary Danish Architecture: Now and Then at the Danish Embassy, and Young Swiss Public Architecture at the Cass.
Centrally curated by The Architecture Foundation, British Council, New London Architecture, and RIBA London, under chair Patricia Brown and with the generous support of the Mayor of London and Berkeley Group, the festival enjoyed unprecedented popularity, with headline events covering a broad variety of topics.
Patricia Brown, chair of London Festival of Architecture, said:
“This year’s success has shown the appetite to use the festival as a platform to engage with some difficult issues for London’s future, as well as take a playful and oblique look at our magnificent city. At a time when the world is looking for innovative thinking to solve problems in the urban realm, London has a key role to play as an international centre of architectural practice and creativity. The festival is committed to highlighting this role and ensuring that architecture is firmly placed on at the forefront of the agenda.”
Looking forward to 2015, the London Festival of Architecture will pick up the challenge set out in The Farrell Review to develop a high-level international conference and exhibition. The hope for next year’s event is to embrace a more international approach to promoting excellence in British architecture and the built environment, recognising its global impact on the national economy. The 2015 conference will bring together international architects, engineers, designers and city-makers to discuss and respond to global issues and opportunities.
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Image credit: Serpentine Gallery Pavilion by Sou Fujimoto