London Festival of Architecture '14

Friday, 6 June 2014

London Festival of Architecture LogoThis month heralds the annual London Festival of Architecture (1-30 June 2014) and the prospect is nothing short of exciting! Over 150 exhibitions, installations, tours, open studios, talks, debates, family activities, film screenings, architecture evenings and student shows will be dotted all over London to celebrate the latest architectural experimentation, ideas and practice.

I attended the keynote debate to open the festival hosted at the London School of Economics (LSE) entitled "Does London need more tall towers?" Speakers for and against the motion set out their positions, before a discussion panel offered their views and answered questions from the audience.

The topic of London's skyline and the scale of new development ongoing and planned is certainly one which is current and as I found out first-hand - divisive. In the next decade, there are 230 new towers due to be built and ~80% of these towers are set to be luxury flats. It was an interesting discussion and one with no clear conclusion other than that if there is to be this scale of development - the towers should preferably be beautiful, clustered, and well thought out in order to support community cohesion rather than undermine it. As is also often the case, the point was made that there needed to be clear political oversight and policy clarity when it came to shaping London's evolving cityscape. The audience voted significantly in favour of high-rise development before the debate and this support, though slightly diminished, still held a commanding majority afterwards.

I must admit that my own thoughts swayed from side to side, as both camps had such valid arguments! Ask me again after the festival in case I am more convinced one way or another.

Here are a few of the events in the diary which have caught my eye and I hope to attend:

    The Towers Debate
  • Will Self: On Architecture (@ Kings Place, 9 June, 7:30pm) - in "When Liquid turns to Solid: the Spatialisation of Capital Flows in 21st Century London", Will explores the theme of capital in relation to new architecture in the city. 
  • London's Growing Up! (@ London's Centre for the Built Environment, until 12 June) - an exhibition of new towers designed for London (a nice companion to the debate above). 
  • Land Use (@ Russell sq., 16 June, 6-7:30pm) - a walking tour focusing on the public realm, using garden squares to combat the urban heat island effect and increasing their value for biodiversity. 
  • NBBJ (@ 342 Old St, EC1V 9DS, 25 June, 6:30-8:30pm) - a panel discussion looking at the relationship between technology, identity and community. 
  • Ways to Use an Urban Rooftop (@ London College of Fashion, W1G 0BJ, 2-30 June) - a unique outdoor space by Studio Weave addresses issues around the provision and use of urban outdoor spaces. 
  • Rainforest, GUN Architects (@ Bedford sq. until 19 July) - a public pavilion accompanied by a photography exhibition. 
  • Regenerating Capital (@ Roca London Gallery, SW6 2PY, 2 June - 23 August) - photography exploring the impact of regeneration. 
  • Designs of the Year 2014 (@ Design Museum, until 25 August) - the very best in global architecture, digital, fashion, furniture, graphic, product and transport design.
...and I could go on and on, but I'd slowly reproduce the entire festival calendar! 

For full event listings, visit the London Architecture Diary and be sure to enjoy a part of the festival this year. 

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