This week’s London Festival of Architecture (LFA) places the spotlight on the capital’s housing crisis and questions if enough is being done to meet the needs of London’s growing and changing population.
The headline event, ‘Housing Londoners: Is it just a numbers game?’ (16 June) will address why we are not building enough homes in Britain and what we can do to tackle this shortfall. Speakers will examine if great neighbourhoods and quality homes can be created to reflect the changing lifestyle of London’s residents.
Festival Chair Patricia Brown said:
“The London Festival of Architecture looks beyond the specifics of architecture to explore the capital’s built environment in the widest context.
“It allows us to consider and debate the needs of Londoners and their relationship to the capital. Undoubtedly, housing is the most critical issue for the city at the moment, and we want to use the opportunity of the festival to shine a spotlight on the ways we can not only start to reach our housing targets, but achieve good neighbours that feel like a natural part of the fabric of London”.
In another headline event, the British Council will host a ‘vertical East End carnival’ to celebrate the iconic Balfron Tower. This festival will include traditional pie and mash; tours of the building from Bow Arts artists; presentations from resident architects; installations featuring dancers, poets, beatbox artists; a floating cinema; a live performance of Macbeth taking place throughout the building; and a talk on the roof. The event is the culmination of the International Architecture Showcase run by the British Council, in collaboration with Bow Arts Trust.
At the Royal Academy of Arts, Stirling prize-winning architects will compete in the UK’s first ever LEGO battle (22 June). Families are invited to come and watch the teams vie for the title of champion builder as they perform some live concept design with 80,000 bricks.
A further highlight of the week includes a rare chance to view the majestic vaulting roof of Stockwell bus garage as part of London Transport Museum and Transport for London’s celebrations of the Year of the Bus (21 June).
Highlights of Week 3:
Housing Londoners: Is it just a numbers game?
16 June | 19:00 – 20:30: Kings Place
One million more Londoners will need homes over the next decade. Yet the current level of house building in London is only skimming the surface of housing need, and the impact on levels of affordability is well documented. This debate will take as its starting point the desperate need to house London’s growing, changing population, and examine how the numbers can be achieved, while creating great neighbourhoods and quality homes that reflect both our changing lifestyles.
Speakers on the night are: Claire Bennie, Development Director, Peabody; Richard Blakeway, Deputy Mayor for Housing, Land and Property, Greater London Authority; Teresa Borsuk, Executive Director, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects;David Lammy MP for Tottenham; Rob Perrins, Managing Director, Berkeley Group.
New Perspectives: A Celebration at Balfron Tower
21 June | 12:00 – 19:00: Balfron Tower and sites across Poplar
As a culmination of the International Architecture Showcase a series of celebratory events will take place at Balfron Tower and across Poplar, including presentations of new ideas for the area, tours of the iconic Balfron Tower, film screenings and activities highlighting the influence of international architects on the Capital and the importance of diversity.
View from the Ground: A walking Tour of the Lansbury, Poplar and Lower Lea area. Starting from the foot of Balfron Tower, the tour will explore both the areas planned and organic changes since Abercrombie.
Ten Ideas for Poplar: As part of the International Architecture Showcase 2014, ten international architects (from Austria, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Iran, Latvia, Nigeria, South Africa, Taiwan and Uganda) have been paired with ten UK practices to workshop ideas for Poplar. Over the last seven days, these teams have been working across the themes of Culture, Housing, Nature, Town Centres and Transition on four sites throughout Poplar to generate new ideas for the area.
International Capital: The Role of the Émigré in London. This rooftop panel discussion will examine how Twentieth Century émigré to London has influenced British architecture.
Vertical Carnival Tours: Interior Design students at the Royal College of Art have been challenged to create a collection of immersive tactile installations that explore the architecture and social philosophy of the Balfron Tower – the ethos behind Goldfinger’s ambitions. Dancers, performers, poets and beatbox artists will be invited to respond to the installations
Traditional cuisine will also feature in the celebrations, with a selection of East End Pie & Mash and a Balfron Tower cake sourced from a local business. Afternoon tea, ice cream and hot and cold drinks will also be served throughout the session.
The Death and Life of Great London High Streets
14 June – 21 June
Greater London Authority, High streets across London
High streets are at the heart of London’s daily life and economy. But today a new set of challenges, including competition from online retail and shopping centres, is leading to claims of the death of the high street, as we know it. London is leading the way in showing that high streets can continue to play a central role by adapting and diversifying, with over £175 million being invested by the Mayor of London and partners in projects to support their growth. Eight expert-guided visits of recently completed projects will present practical ways to reinvigorate our high streets by working with their existing character and strengths, and offer an opportunity to discuss their future life. Including projects by Peter Barber, BDP, Cartwright Pickard, Rick Mather, muf architecture/art and Tonkin Liu Architects.
14 June: Deptford, 12pm; Bromley Town Centre, 2pm; Catford Broadway, 2pm; Camden Town, 3pm
21 June: Barking Town Centre, 2pm; Blackhorse Lane, 2pm; Green Lanes, 2pm; Kingston
Transport Museum: Concrete Wonder
London 21 June | Stockwell Bus Garage
During 2014 London Transport Museum and Transport for London are celebrating the vital role the bus plays in the lives of Londoners, with the Year of the Bus. As part of these celebrations Stockwell bus garage is opening up its doors, giving the public the rare chance to see its majestic vaulting roof. Designed and built in the 1950s by Adie, Button and Partners, Stockwell bus garage is recognised as one of the most important modernist buildings in London, and is testament to London’s investment in its transport infrastructure. Reflecting the themes of Architectural Capital and Capital Investment, this bus garage demonstrates London’s position as an international centre for architecture.
Talks and debates
How Liveable is London?
19 June | 18:00 – 20:00: Charles Darwin House
The CPRE London and Landscape Institute tackle the issue of liveability in housing and landscape. Speakers include Rosie Callway (CPRE), Noel Farrer (Landscape Institute), Rebecca Sudworthy (Peabody), Darren Johnson (London Assembly), Lucy Musgrove (Publica) and Bruce McVean (Movement for Liveable London)
Garden Museum: New English Landscapes with Ken Worpole and Liza Fior
17 June | 18:30 – 20:00: Garden Museum
Acclaimed author Ken Warpole, will join photographer Jason Orton and architect Liza Fior to discuss their relationships with England’s changing landscapes.
STO Wertstatt: List? Develop? Demolish?
18 June | 18:00 – 20:00: The Werkstatt
The capitals skyline, which just 50 years ago welcomed buildings such as the Shard and the Garden Bridge, has transformed beyond recognition. Clearing the way for a wave of new architecture, the buildings of London’s established urban fabric are being re-evaluated to decide whether they should be demolished, repurposed or protected against a path of new work.
In this light-hearted and entertaining debate, a panel of established and emerging architects will pitch their best projects against one another in a bid to earn ‘listed status’ from the audience.
Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design: Contested Spaces Tokenism / Participation
18 June | 17:00 – 20:00: Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design, Granary Building
The Crossing at the Granary Building, Central Saint Martins will be co-opted as an event platform during the Spatial Practices Programme Degree Show – presenting itself not as a static exhibition but as an active space of production. A bespoke kit-of-parts will compose a dynamic space to host four days of public discourse, debate and performance: an expanded and critical exchange of ideas across different disciplines questioning contemporary approaches to the production of space in an increasingly commodified public realm.
Royal College of Art and When We Build Again, co-hosted by LSE Cities: Kapital Architecture: Commodity
19 June | 18:30 – 20:00: London School of Economics and Political Science
Architectural production involves the assemblage of multiple materials, processes and techniques. When did these pieces that make up architectural form become commodified? This discussion looks to the history of proprietary specifications in architectural production and the impacts this has had on the role of the architect in the post-war period, and today.
Fashion Space Gallery: Panoramic Picnic
18 June | 19:00 – 21:00: Rooftop, Fashion Space Gallery
Visit the new rooftop installation by Studio Weave at the London College of Fashion, for a discursive Panoramic Picnic. The gallery will use the elevated view of the capital to delve into London’s architectural history where food has been incorporated into the design, such as the ever-present pineapple motif, a symbol of hospitality and welcome, and the stories behind the re-appropriation of London’s most notable buildings such as the Gherkin and the Cheesegrater.
Up Projects: The Floating Cinema: Extra-International (Part of New Perspectives: A Celebration at Balfron Tower).
21 June | 18:00 – 20:00: Floating Cinema, Moored at Cotall Street
Moored near Erno Goldfinger’s iconic Balfron Tower, The Floating Cinema forms the location for a screening of international short films exploring the impact of urban renewal, followed by a panel discussion on the role of the artist/architect in enabling social change and how communities develop in response. They will also address international perspectives on regeneration, current changes evolving in East London and Balfron Tower itself.
The Royal Academy of Arts (RA) LEGO Architecture Challenge
22 June | 14:00 – 16:00: Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington House
The RA LEGO Architecture Challenge is the first LEGO battle to take place on UK soil between Stirling prize-winning architects. Zaha Hadid Architects, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Stanton Williams and Witherford Watson Mann will go head-to-head in this live display of architectural concept design. Each team will be provided with 15,000 bricks and some A-Level helpers with which to tackle a brief to create a new slice of London. The public are invited to come and watch the event which will take place inside the Summer Exhibition from 2-4pm, a ticket for RA Summer Exhibition required but children under 15 are admitted free.
The Great London Architecture Pub Quiz
16 June | 19:00 – 21:00: Prospect of Whitby, Wapping Wall
The Great London Architecture Pub Quiz will act as a tonic to the festival’s more weighty events. In the grand tradition of pub quizzes. It will relate to this year’s theme, ‘Capital’. The quiz is open to everyone and aimed at urbanists, architectural enthusiasts and Londonophiles. Architectural practices are encouraged to enter as teams, capitalising on the friendly rivalries between their respective houses.