London Festival of Architecture

The upcoming London Festival of Architecture – running from 1st to 30th June – will bring a host of international designers, artists and more to the capital as it celebrates its tenth birthday.

Over 150 events are planned city-wide for the month, with the festival taking on the concept of ‘capital’ as its theme. With London still undergoing a host of architectural changes and public debate raging over how the metropolis should develop its residential and commercial sectors, this seems an appropriate topic of discussion.

So what should architects expect over the course of June?

Talks and debates

A host of discussion-focused events are lined up, featuring star architects from around the world as well as academics and journalists.

One highlight could be a June 9th talk from novelist and Guardian columnist Will Self, who will entertain an audience at the King’s Place.

Self made his name as something of a literary bad-boy in the Martin Amis mould, but has since forged a reputation as trenchant commentary on the foibles of English life, with one of his particular interests space and psychogeography.

“In this talk entitled When Liquid turns to Solid: the Spatialisation of Capital Flows in 21st Century London, he explores the theme of capital in relation to new architecture in the city, followed by conversation with writer and journalist Andy Beckett and then takes questions from the audience,” explained the event’s organisers.

Other big names taking part in this part of the programme include architect and designer Henrik Lund-Larsen and Moshe Safdie, an urban planner who has done a great deal to shape modern cities around the world.


The Designs of the Year show at the Design Museum will run from March 26th to August 25th, showcasing the very best in global architecture, graphic design, technology and more.

From Kate Moss’s favourite app to friendly lampposts and a mobile phone made to be self-assembled, this eclectic display should feature plenty of interesting gobbets.

A host of other exhibitions are planned for the festival period – a personal favourite is the large-scale installation from Daniel Lobb in the Siobhan Davies Dance, which uses humidity generated from the sweat and breath of dancers to grow plants in a copper rill.

For a more historical focus, you might wish to visit the Royal Academy of Arts, which is presenting a series of drawings by the renowned British architect Norman Shaw, considered one of the stars of Victorian architecture.

“From working drawings to dazzling perspectives, this exhibition explores the materials, draughtsmanship and design practices of Shaw and his small but brilliant staff,” said the organisers.

Film screenings

Also on the cards is an array of film screenings, featuring many of the documentaries that have had the architecture world abuzz over the last 12 months.

How We Used to Live – a collaboration between Paul Kelly and Saint Etienne – will be shown at the King’s Place on 11th June.

Described as an impressionistic journey around a rapidly vanishing London, this work features rare footage from the BFI archive as well as a moody soundtrack and is likely to appeal to anyone who knows something of the capital’s architectural past.

Admission is priced at £9.50 – the film will be followed by a discussion panel featuring Elain Harwood, from English Heritage, Bob Stanley from Saint Etienne, architect Charles Holland and Joe Kerr, co-editor of London: From Punk to Blair.

Explore the city

Visitors can explore the city on over 45 guided tours by bus, bicycle and on foot, and from the top of some of London’s tallest buildings. Different events will focus on different parts of the captial, with the chance to see some impressive stonework as well as learning how technology is changing how monuments are conceived, generated and produced.

The new City of London Tall Buildings Walk will focus on how the capital’s skyline is changing as ever-taller skyscrapers and office blocks are proposed as a solution to over-crowding, while a special series of walks will explore the most distinctive high streets across the boroughs.

A full listing of events is available on the website if you wish to plan a trip.