London Festival of Architecture Week 4 Highlights

After pointing the spotlight on the housing crisis, the future of the capital’s skyline and London’s evolving high streets, the final week of London Festival of Architecture goes back to nature by bringing together award-winning designer Thomas Heatherwick, garden and landscape designer Dan Pearson, and actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley to discuss the concept behind London’s first Garden Bridge (26 June). This headline event, which examines how nature can co-exist amidst the constraints of modern design, will address the practicalities of the project and the implications it will have on the capital’s residents.

The festival this week also enters into the realm of digital capital, with two key events that explore the theme of smart cities. ‘The Rise of the Smart City’ (24 June) debates what degree of influence technology should have on facilitating new models of city dwelling, whilst ‘Smart Cities London’ (27-29 June) brings together urban planners, architects, sustainability experts, technologists, researchers, developers and designers at the Google Campus, to co-create new prototypes to help London become a more liveable, competitive and sustainable city.

Visitors to the festival are treated to a series of landmark events at some of the UK’s great cultural institutions. This includes the first public talk at the Serpentine Gallery by Chilean architect Smiljan Radic (27 June), creator of this year’s world-famous Serpentine Pavilion, who will discuss his remarkable design, in conversation with Serpentine’s Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist. The V&A will also open its doors to architects, artists and designers, inviting them to develop a series of installations that re-animate the museum’s vast collection (27 June) in one of their ever-popular ‘Friday Late’ events.

The theme of housing will be revisited once more through the screening of Patrick Keiller’s Dilapidated Dwellings(25 June), an essay film narrated by actress Tilda Swinton that portrays housing in Britain at the beginning of the 21st Century.

The theme of health and fitness will also be addressed by NLA and The Building Centre’s ‘Fit London’ exhibition, which looks at how physical activity can be encouraged through urban design to promote health and wellbeing in the city; an opening party (28 June) featuring fitness activities for everyone will launch this topical exhibition.

Highlights of Week 4

Headline events

Thomas Heatherwick, Dan Pearson & Joanna Lumley: The Garden Bridge Project

  • 26 June | 19:00 – 21:00: Siobhan Davies Studios, Elephant & Castle

In their first joint public talk, Pearson and Heatherwick discuss the concepts behind London’s first Garden Bridge with actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley. Connecting the North, from Temple Station, to the South Bank, the bridge designed by Heatherwick and landscaped by Pearson will provide a stunning new public garden across the Thames. This event takes place as part of the Human-Nature series of events staged by Siobhan Davies Dance exploring the theme of natural capital.

Talks and debates

Public Talk: Smiljan Radic

  • 27 June | 20:00 – 22:00: Serpentine Gallery

Smiljan Radic discusses the concepts behind his design for the 2014 Serpentine Pavilion with Julia Peyton-Jones and Hans Ulrich Obrist. This conversation will be followed by a talk by writer and curator Justin McGuirk, who will present the research that informed his new publication, Radical Cities: Across Latin America in Search of a New Architecture (Verso Books, June 2014), hailed by Richard Sennett as “provocative and beautifully crafted”.

The Secret Life of Buildings (And Their Influence on People)

  • 24 June | 18:30 – 19:30: The Bloomsbury Institute

What are the economic, erotic, political and psychological impacts of architecture on people? Novelist Tom Campbell and art historian Tom Wilkinson explore the secret life of buildings and their influence on people and their lives.

Rise of the Smart City

  • 24 June | 19:00 – 21:00: The Podium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

The long-mooted arrival of the Internet of Things, along with the possibilities afforded by Big Data, stands to transform the way in which we engage with our civic environment. The world’s urban agglomerations, for the most part, have developed organically, but as the global population becomes increasingly urbanised, to what degree should technology play a role in helping to facilitate new models of city dwelling? Join our panel of thought-leaders to debate the good, the bad and the ugly of smart cities. Events speakers are:

  • Kathryn Firth, Chief of Design, London Legacy Development Corporation
  • Adam Greenfield, Senior Urban Fellow at LSE Cities and Founder/MD of Urbanscale
  • Leo Hollis, Writer, Historian and Urbanist, Author of Cities Are Good For You
  • Andrew Hudson-Smith, Director and Deputy Chair of the Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA) at UCL and Member of the GLA Smart London Board


Startup Weekend: Smart Cities London

  • 27 June – 29 June: Google Campus, Bonhill Sreet

The weekend will bring together urban planners, architects, sustainability experts, technologists, researchers, developers and designers to co-create new prototypes to help London become a more liveable, competitive and sustainable city. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of entrepreneurial leaders, mentors and judges with the aim of improving the digital technology contribution to London’s economy.

Exhibitions and installations

Young Swiss Public Architecture

  • 25 June – 06 July: Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture and Design, Central House

This exhibition presents the work of seven emerging architects from Switzerland as part of the International Architecture Showcase and the London Festival of Architecture. The exhibition focuses on work chosen by the architects of projects within the public realm. These projects are accompanied by a series of interviews exploring the context of these projects.


  • 27 June – 02 November: Museum of London Docklands

London’s bridges are iconic, and their architecture helps to define the city in the mind’s eye. Prompted by the 120-year anniversary of Tower Bridge and Thomas Heatherwick’s ambitious Garden Bridge proposal, this free, major visual arts exhibition explores how bridges shape our image of London, from pioneering photographs by WH Fox Talbot and paintings by CRW Nevinson through to lightboxes by Suki Chan.

FIT London

  • 28 June – 26 July: The Building Centre

NLA and The Building Centre will be activating the South Crescent on Store Street around the theme of ‘fit cities’ – the concept of encouraging physical activity through urban design to promote health and wellbeing in the city. This will take the form of an exhibition, Fit London, in the crescent. The exhibition will celebrate design solutions to public health challenges and will provide a platform for innovation in design around the world.

Architecture Evenings

Making Space

  • 23 June: Museum of London

Join award-winning architect Gurmeet Sian and writer and theatre director Kirsty Houseley, for a workshop curated by the School of Life, considering the psychology and production of public space. With an after-hours view of House of Muses and a late night bar.

Summer Late Tuesday: London’s Greatest Buildings

  • 24 June | 18:00 – 22:00: RIBA, Portland Place

London’s diverse and restless cityscape is known across the world. Its buildings and landmarks have the power to inspire, provoke and outrage regardless of where in the world they are being viewed. In a special late evening of talks and events that mark outstanding architecture – old and new, RIBA celebrates London’s Greatest Buildings and the stories behind them.

2 Willow Road Late

  • 26 June | 18:30 – 20:30: 2 Willow Road, Hampstead

Discover the stylish spaces of 2 Willow Road, home of architect Ernö Goldfinger and his artist wife Ursula, at an intimate after-hours event. Strictly limited to 40 people, guests will enjoy drinks in the dining room before having the opportunity to explore the house as well as the temporary exhibition by leading artist Ryan Gander ‘The Artists Have the Keys.’ Later on Magnus Englund, owner founder of the Isokon Gallery building (Well Coates) and Director MD of Skandium, will talk about creating an exhibition to celebrate 80 years of the iconic Isokon Building.

V&A Friday Late: It’s All Yours

  • 27 June | 18:30 – 22:00: Victoria and Albert Museum

‘It’s All Yours’ invites you to look again at the V&A and its collections from the very real perspective that, after all, all of this stuff is yours. As a public institution, the V&A is here for you, but what does this really mean? As a citizen of this capital, what are your obligations, opportunities and limitations? And how might they play out in the context of a public museum? For one evening only, architects, artists and designers will create a series of installations which re-animate the V&A’s collection around this idea of publicness, creating new contexts and relationships between objects, and highlighting our roles as public citizens.


Planting Steps: Johanna Gibbons & Paul Lincoln

  • 28 June | 11:30 – 14:30: City Hall, The Queen’s Walk

Johanna Gibbons of J & L Gibbons, Landscape Architects and Paul Lincoln of the Landscape Institute lead a walk from City Hall, along the South Bank of the Thames, cutting south towards Siobhan Davies Studios. Exploring plants, people and place, this walk includes a lunch made from locally grown produce at its final destination, the Mobile Gardeners’ temporary site in Elephant & Castle. In association with the Landscape Institute. This forms part of the Human-Nature series of events staged by Siobhan Davies Dance exploring the theme of natural capital.

Mobile Meadow: Richard Reynolds & Simon Whitehead

  • 29 June | 14:00 – 16:00: Siobhan Davies Studios

Guerrilla Gardener Richard Reynolds, whose nocturnal gardening on public land without permission has made him an accidental activist, works with movement artist Simon Whitehead to create a ‘mobile meadow’ with the participation of members of the public. Carrying the flower seedlings they have nurtured, participants will be led on a walk through Elephant & Castle to create a meadow of wild flowers in the urban landscape. This forms part of the Human-Nature series of events staged by Siobhan Davies Dance exploring the theme of natural capital.

Film Screenings

Patrick Keiller: The Dilapidated Dwelling

  • 25 June | 19:30 – 21:30: Kings Place

Patrick Keiller’s The Dilapidated Dwelling is a startling essay film about housing in Britain at the beginning of the 21st century. Narrated by Tilda Swinton, the film’s project ‘to anticipate the future’ has proved uncannily prescient of the current crisis in UK housing, and its relation to money and society. Following the screening, Patrick will be in discussion with Anna Minton, author of Ground Control and chair Sam Jacob, architect and curator, about the film’s themes: domestic architecture, land ownership and the economics of late capitalism. In association with Modern Culture


  • 26 June | 18:30 – 20:30: Barbican Centre, Screen 2

This special presentation complements the House of Muses installation at the Museum of London. Built out of the bomb craters following the Blitz, the story of the Barbican is told through an enthralling programme of rare archive documentaries. Titles include Barbican Regained (1963), My Lord Mayor (1960), Look At Life: Top People (1960), Barbican (1969) and South Of Watford (1988).

Family Activities

Drop In And Design Family Workshops: Amazing Architects

  • 29 June | 13:00 – 16:00

Design Museum, Shad Thames, SE1 2YD

Be inspired by the fascinating architecture projects featured in Designs of the Year 2014 and the London Festival of Architecture theme Capital. Drop in and try your hand at the craft. Create a 2D collage of your own fantastic building design using card and paper shapes.