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

September 2015
Julia Peyton-Jones
Director, Serpentine Galleries

September is a busy month for architecture and design, with the London Design Festival and Open House being two of my annual highlights. Overnight on September 18th the Serpentine will welcome walkers on Maggies Culture Crawl to pass through the selgascano’s Pavilion as they enjoy a 15 mile night walk across the city with access to some of the best architectural and cultural buildings in London. London is an extraordinary city. At any one time there are so many wonderful things to see and do. My abiding passion is culture, which over the next month is rich in possibilities. The choice is endless…


Although the brilliant Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition at the Royal Academy (from 19 September) is unmissable, until 20 September, visitors to the RA will also encounter Unexpected Hill, a ceramic urban landscape designed by emerging Istanbul-based practice, SO? Architecture and Ideas. This new public space will host a programme of activities for all ages at 2.30pm on Sundays. Events include ‘The Acrobatic City’ on 6 September, and Ceramic Stories on 20 September.


RIBA’s exhibition, Palladian Design: The Good, the Bad and the Unexpected, runs from 9 September 2015 to 9 January 2016 and explores the evolution of the Palladian style since its invention by renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio, nearly 500 years ago. The exhibition includes the work of Inigo Jones, Lord Burlington and other British architects as well original 16th century drawings by Palladio himself. This will be a delight.


Beginning slightly later in the month is the 13th London Design Festival. From 19-27 September, London will be split into designated ‘design districts’ as the city plays host to 350 events and installations from around the world. Highlights include David Adjaye’s installation in the Somerset House courtyard as well as Alex Chinneck’s fantastic inverted electricity pylon, entitled ‘A Bullet from a Shooting Star’, which will be installed in Greenwich for the duration of the Festival. Chinneck’s striking feat will be thrilling to anyone interested in design, architecture, art or engineering. The V&A also hosts a series of notable installations and events throughout the festival, including Frida Escobedo’s Mexican Pavilion, which will remain in the Museum’s John Madejski Garden for September.


The V&A is a hub during the London Design Festival and this year the Museum has commissioned a structure by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo to accompany the event. It is inspired by Tenochtitlán, the ancient lake-side Aztec city. The space is made from different movable layers and can be moved and changed for the different events and activities that are taking place there. This is an important opportunity to draw attention to the broad multicultural influences that exist in modern Mexico.


Open House London takes place on Saturday and Sunday 19-20 September. For one weekend, some of the capital’s most magnificent buildings are open to the public. This fantastic initiative was started by a not-for profit organisation in 1992, and promotes public awareness of design and architecture. The concept has evolved to include ‘Open-City’, which extends the scheme to public spaces and infrastructure and has also now spread to multiple cities worldwide.


On 1 September Sir John Soane’s Museum will held a candlelit tour of its exhibits – this happens once a month and the next is due to take place on 6 October. The famous architectural collection has been developing since the architect, Sir John Soane, negotiated an Act of Parliament to settle and preserve the house and collection for the benefit of ‘amateurs and students’ in 1833. This atmospheric viewing opportunity is one of the best ways to see the collection. The event is extremely popular, however, and you must arrive early to secure a place.


And finally (and with apologies), between June and October 2015, the Serpentine presents Park Nights, the annual series of performance, music, film, dance and literature events. This year's Park Nights series includes new commissions conceived specifically for the Serpentine Pavilion 2015 designed by Spanish architects selgascano. These include Christodoulos Panayiotou’s Dying on Stage with Jean Capeille, in collaboration with Fiorucci Art Trust, on 18 September and Christian Wolff and Apartment House’s production on 25 September. The Park Nights events offer an exciting and unique opportunity to experience new and often experimental commissions by exciting young artists in an inspirational structure set in a beautiful park.



Photo: Greg Funnell © 2013


Past Editors