The London Festival of Architecture returns with a rich line-up of 400 plus events with an underlying theme of “boundaries’.
There is no dearth of architecture festivals and events across the world, however more often than not they are targeted for architecture and design professionals. To create sustainable and responsible built spaces it is equally essential to have responsible users, and hence, cutting-off general public from understanding the importance and effects of architecture is short-sighted and defies the purpose.
London festival of Architecture, one of the biggest festival just kicked of its 2019 edition on 1st of June. This year’s month long programme extensively focuses on interaction and engagement with public. The 400 plus events promise to be more diverse and aim to support London’s architectural and design talent.
This year’s theme ‘boundary’ would be investigated literally and metaphorically through events, exhibitions, conferences, walks and open studios. It explores many connotations of boundary that largely impact the way of building and living. Tamsie Thomson, director of London Festival of Architecture said, ‘While architecture is often defined by its boundaries, architects actually exist to challenge the boundaries they encounter, and it is this attitude which has made London the best city on the planet to enjoy, practice or study architecture.’
The insightful guided tours through familiar places and streets will allow Londoners to see their neighbourhood in a new light. The installations, family events intend to invoke a feeling of pride and raise a few concerns regarding how we build and use a space.
The events and installations are spread all over London and many events would be hosted in four specially designated design hubs – the City of London, London Bridge, the Royal Docks and the Heart of London district covering St James’s, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
From physical boundaries of the city to racial and economical boundaries have be addressed through ‘Boundaries of Diversity’, a month long exhibition with series of events including workshops, talks and family events that explore issues of migration, regeneration and the community.
Early this month, the Migration Museum held a walking tour exploring the migration stories embedded in the area. Royal Academy of Arts hosted a panel discussion exploring the boundaries of gender, race, culture and economic inequalities and attempted at finding solutions to overcome them.
A beautiful pop-up garden conceptualised by Lil Jenck Studio references identity politics of native and non-native and challenges people to reassess it. While, dancer Shobana Jeyasingh and architecture studio Ft’wrk have specially devised a community dance choreography which investigates a location through cues from the space around them.
Many commissioned installations are sprinkled around the city that include ‘parklets’ and innovative street installations created to rest and admire the city.
The Unbuilt Room in Pitzhanger Manor through a séance-like theatrical game explores what is real and imagined. Interesting walks like the Alfred Hitchcock London Walk takes you through the lanes of buildings that were featured in Hitchcock films. Then there is Comedy Safari, which blends a dollop of humour with short documentaries to spotlight lifestyles shaped by architecture and urbanscapes in cities like London.
LFA 2019 has planned a pivotal programme for the youth who aspire to carry the baton of architecture into the future. Students and alumni of The Bartlett School of Architecture have designed series of discussions, performances and demonstrations that address complexity of architecture as a subject that spans, expands and challenges many other disciplines.
For a programme that’s aptly called Studio Lates, renowned architects will open their studio on Friday evenings to hold interactions and workshops with professionals, students and general public. The Royal Danish Embassy is hosting a 3-day conference featuring British and Danish urban experts as well as the public in discussions about how to create cities that can blur the boundaries and transcend ethnicities to benefit all.
There are series of exhibitions scheduled throughout the month that include V&A who partners with RIBA to present six innovative projects curated from their collections – each demonstrating a unique experiment in social housing design with an intent to inform and influence the architects. Another V&A – RIBA collaboration sees Paper Castles, an exhibition that holds paper models from fifteen local architecture firms that reimagine the future of architecture. These models sit over the original exhibits of models from history at V&A Gallery, and create a corresponding dialogue with old and the imagined new.
Last year’s LFA edition attracted over 600,000 visitors and a global audience of 122 million; with the current year’s impressive line-up of over 400 events, the response is sure to peak the previous one.
Text by Shweta Salvi