Every month architects and industry insiders share their recommendations for the best exhibitions and events to visit in London.

September 2019
Will Hunter
Founder / Director
The London School of Architecture

Parliament and the London School of Architecture both reopened this week, though unlike the former, the LSA is promising to stay open for the rest of the year. 


On 2nd September, we welcomed our fifth – and largest ever – cohort of students and kicked off term with a keynote from Richard Sennett on cities and climate change; a reminder, if ever one was needed, that there are important issues to discuss beyond Brexit. 


However, if the government succeeds in its proroguing (such a wonderful word to enter everyday usage), MPs mustn’t feel at a loose end. These London Architecture Diary highlights can offer some structure to their wasted days.


If in a plangent mood, our under-used MPs could reflect upon other vanquished dreams and hopes by visiting The London that Never Was by London Metropolitan Archives at the Guildhall Art Gallery in the City of London. As John Greenleaf Whittier wrote in his poem Maud Muller,"For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'".


Or, if wanting to engage in the concrete reality that surrounds them, they could see how the other half live during the Open House weekend, taking place on 21st–22nd September. NB: It is well worth planning ahead for this, as the highlights are booked out early.


The main event for September is the London Design Festival, taking place on 14th–22nd, with its abundance of shows, talks, walks, exhibitions and installations. In a determined effort to lift our moods and bring some colour into our lives, the delightful Adam Nathaniel Furman has made a Pyramid in Paddington and Camille Walala has transformed South Molton Street in Mayfair with ten sculptural benches in her trademark geometric patterned style – when are these two going to do a collaboration?


At Oxo Tower Wharf, design studio Volume Creative has installed Take the Plunge, a stand-alone immersive experience that depicts a sunset under the sea; while in Broadgate, Paul Cocksedge’s Please Be Seated  is formed of undulating concentric circles made from scaffolding planks, which ‘mimic the rhythm of the city’.


At the Cromwell Road entrance to the V&A, Sam Jacob has designed Sea Things  as a ‘digital and physical manifestation of the global single-use plastics crisis’. The installation is a ‘large scale two-way mirrored cube suspended above visitors with an animated motion graphic internally reflected to an infinity that seems both as wide as the ocean and as large as the challenges we face’. I confess, I am not entirely sure how this works, but I look forward to visiting and experiencing it for myself. 


Finally, at the end of September, if our lost politicians want to consider the art of building bridges, they should visit Birkenhead-based artist Mark Leckey’s O’ Magic Power of Bleakness  at Tate Britain. The exhibition will feature a life-size replica of a motorway bridge on the M53, nearby Leckey’s home town, which will serve as a stage for a play. I’m personally hoping this is a comedy, not a tragedy – but I’m not holding my breath.

Past Editors