Every month architects and industry insiders share their recommendations for the best exhibitions and events to visit in London.
Normally the 31 daylight deprived days of January seem to last a lot longer than their collective 744 hours. Yet this January marks the start of my second calendar year as Chair of London Festival of Architecture (LFA) and the month flew by as we prepared for this month’s open call for Associated Projects and Open Studios to form part of LFA this June.
We were delighted with the response to last year’s festival theme of ‘Capital’, especially how so many people stepped up to the plate, presenting many fascinating interpretations of that one word. So, we are throwing out another challenge this year, exploring the theme of “work” – presented as ‘Work in Progress’.
For many ‘Work’ is a loaded word. For the lucky, it is the key to a life enhancing creative, absorbing, process. Work and London go hand in hand. Work – aka career - is why many of us chose, or continue, to live in London. And it is even the reason London exists; evolving from its first days as a commercial heart of Roman Britain to arguably the global commercial centre.
We hope that the theme presents a chance to explore the changing nature of work, and workspace, but also its impact on, and role in, the evolution of London. Indeed, London itself is a work in progress, and its architecture, and its architects, both respond to, and lead, the process of change.
That process of change is particularly evident in the public realm, which is enabling, and responding to, the way we live ‘more publicly’. London’s streets and public spaces are increasingly an extension of our living and working spaces, accelerated by the blurring of boundaries between work and leisure time.
This notion of change chimes well with The Future City exhibition at RIBA which examines what shifts in technologies, demographics and lifestyles mean for our cities. It explores a visual history of the future to outline the UK’s key urban challenges over the coming decades.
I suspect that for The Building Centre and The Landscape Institute, the answer to some of those challenges can be found in a greater importance of landscape, which is a challenge set out in their collaborative show, Rethinking The Urban Landscape. It also celebrates some of the best contemporary landscape projects, large and small, with some nice work on display. Go check out “Breakers Yard”, a whimsical collaboration between the National Trust, House of Fairy Tales, landscape architect Daniel Lobb and, crucially, the local community. Fashioned out of a former car breakers yard, adjacent to Sutton House, it is evidence of the evolution of our working city. Priceless.