Every month architects and industry insiders share their recommendations for the best exhibitions and events to visit in London.
There is a moment, sometimes late July, sometimes early August, when you can walk down the middle of the road in London, in broad daylight, and not fear being run over.
Everyone else is on holiday, and London is left to the remainder. The only other time it’s like that where I live is the stretch between Christmas and New Year when many Londoners return to their family homes, and the remainder, we who have nowhere better to be, get to walk down the middle of the road if we so choose. London feels as though it has paused for a moment. It is also the perfect time to visit exhibitions, when no one is going to stand in your sight lines. Walking through the dense humidity in London recently, that moment has seemed far off, especially since this now feels like the last summer before something happens.
The Serpentine Pavilions and the degree shows have had their openings. The degree shows had the familiar heady mix: a year’s work, distilled; proud parents quietly despairing; tutors with ambitions leaking all over the place. British architectural schools are said to be among the best in the world, and the work on the walls is often intimidatingly good. It's also a vintage year for Serpentine Pavilions, even if BIG isn't your thing, there four other summer houses to commune with.
Calvert 22 Foundation continues its relentlessly brilliant curation with a season called “Power and Architecture”. It explores utopian public space and the quest for new national identities across the post-Soviet world. Sometimes I'm unnerved by how un-cynical Calvert are. So unapologetically Cultural, so good.
The book launch of the book “Home Economics” follows on from the brilliant show at the British Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. The book is good looking, a really alluring print, with essays from people like Tom Dyckhoff, Mark Cousins and errr, me. The texts are an extension and elaboration on some of the ideas expressed in the exhibition, which you should also see if you get a chance.
Another intriguing event is “Resurgam”, a walk, guided by the charming Mike Althorpe. London's built fabric has been disrupted and adapted through a variety of transformative circumstances and destructive processes. In the 350th Anniversary year of The Great Fire of London, this walk explores the architecture of the City in the aftermath of destruction. From Christopher Wren's great unrealised renaissance city plan, to frustrated post war modernist visionaries and the commercial reinvention of London after IRA bombs, it charts the real and unreal buildings and spaces of the City in 'Resurgam' mode - when it rises again.
The experimental short film “NY, NY” is fascinating – in part because it is like nothing I have ever seen. Aldous Huxley said it was a new form of visionary art – don’t know if praise gets any higher. In the film the city itself dances.
Since it’s the last summer before something happens, maybe you should just walk down the middle of the road, see some of this stuff and enjoy.