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

May 2019
Manisha Patel
Senior Partner
PRP Architects

With May upon us, we are already halfway through spring – a time when new life begins. In London's built environment new policies and regulations are emerging, and in spite of the hiatus over Brexit, there is still optimism in the air. This is reflected in some of the events in this month's architectural calendar, stories of urban regeneration that continue to shape London's future.


Once the site of London's 18th century docks, Canary Wharf takes its name from the quay where fruit and vegetables imported from the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands were once unloaded. Characterised by the boom and bust of the financial markets throughout the last quarter century, the area's fortunes have not always been rosy, but with the arrival of Crossrail the area is experiencing a new lease of life with new eastward development that will double its residential and commercial population. Experience the architecture and planning of the area yourself on ‘Navigating new East London’ a walking tour by Open City on May 11th, that will link Canary Wharf with another part of the city undergoing unprecedented change, Stratford.


Another area of development undergoing a dynamic new resurgence is public housing. The New London Plan more than doubles the housing targets in some London Boroughs, as 100,000 new homes are needed. New London Architecture’s research and exhibition ‘Public Housing: a London Renaissance’  will showcase, from May 16th to July 18th, some of the capital's most innovative housing schemes. From the regeneration of the High Path Estate in South Wimbledon to infill projects in Whitechapel, you will find diverse examples of new public housing projects designed by different architecture practices. All projects demonstrate how the London Boroughs' registered providers are working in partnership with local communities and stakeholders to find new enterprising ways to fund and deliver projects to meet these ambitious targets. 


The exhibition will be supported by a series of events including a half day conference on May 23rd, focusing on key case studies making a positive contribution to housing delivery within London. On May 8th ‘NYLON: design quality and public housing’  will compare public housing in London and New York and ask what public authorities and the industry can do to ensure that design quality plays a pivotal role in the planning and delivery of new development. A live video seminar will be taking place simultaneously in London and New York giving each city the opportunity to learn from each other. 


Among various iconic housing buildings in London, The Barbican Estate designed by Chamberlin, Powell & Bon in 1954, was visionary for its time. The young practice offered a new way of looking at mixed-use high-density residential development that integrated housing with education and cultural amenities. On May 9th a building visit is being led by Stephen Witherford of Witherford Watson Mann Architects, as part of the AA Building Conversations, which brings members of the Architectural Association and practicing architects together to discuss in-situ how existing buildings have influenced their own design philosophy. 


And finally, on May 11th New London Architecture is running a walking tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, where the legacy of the park's buildings is being complemented with new architecture that is shaping one of London's newest neighbourhoods. Chobham Manor is the first phase to be delivered in this part of the city and is home to a new housing typology designed by PRP that supports the rise of multigenerational life. You will also find this project presented in the previously mentioned ‘Public Housing: a London Renaissance’.

Past Editors