Every month architects and industry insiders share their recommendations for the best exhibitions and events to visit in London.
I feel lucky. My new role at New London Architecture prompts me to keep my finger on the pulse of architecture events happening across the capital. Coincidentally, editing February’s London Architecture Diary is also well aligned with my new year’s resolution – a more manageable and enjoyable one than all of past years’ ones – to avoid hibernating and make the best of winter in London. For an Italian, where “the weather” is a perfectly normal excuse for cancelling both out and indoor plans, this is no mean feat. My suspicions have been confirmed: February in London has a lot to offer. Even the wettest months fail to dampen its liveliness. Without further ado, here are some of the events I can’t wait to get out and see.
For Is This Tomorrow? Whitechapel Gallery has invited ten groups of architects, artists and other cultural practitioners to collaborate and offer their visions of the future. They imagine ten scenarios as varied as “queer desire, house music and fracking meeting on a mountainside and grief and microbes generate new possibilities for housing”. Consider my curiosity piqued.
On 14 February participating architect, Tatiana Bilbao, delivers a lecture exploring a design for a 21st century house that can transform itself, opening and closing as a breathing organism, according to the human necessity of being isolated, yet communally connected.
David Adjaye: Making Memory has just launched at the Design Museum featuring seven of both his built and unbuilt monuments and memorials and exploring architecture as a storytelling device.
I recently picked up ‘Municipal Dreams: The Rise and Fall of Council Housing’, a book by social historian John Boughton that I found very compelling. On 22 February he is giving a talk on the history of London’s council housing at London Metropolitan Archives, followed by a display of original documents.
If you find this topic interesting, the V&A are currently hosting a free display in collaboration with RIBA, presenting six UK social housing projects from the last 100 years, each with an experimental approach to addressing the provision of a home for all.
New London Architecture’s walking tour of Shoreditch on 27 February is also on my radar. I can’t wait to delve deeper into the new architecture and plans of an area where I have lived and played for the past eight years. For anyone attending, I recommend a quick stop-over to the Nomadic Community Gardens, a modern secret garden just off Brick Lane, home to 100 allotment spaces, sculptures, artwork, bees and bee keepers and creative workshops and other happenings on certain days. The masterminds behind the gardens identify 'meanwhile' places, land in pre-development stages, and gain permission to use the vacant space for a pop-up community garden.
The second tour I have lined up is to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, popularly known as the Neasden Temple. This was the first Hindu temple in Europe, built in 1995 by architect CB Sompura, and, in my opinion, one of London’s best-kept secrets. Its location, rising serenely above the suburban houses lining the north Circular, adds to the surreal experience of seeing it for the first time, without mentioning if you get a chance to see it in the snow – which is why I include it in this month’s edit. The temple is open and free to visit to people of all faiths and none and you are able to book volunteer-guided tours. Time to wrap up and make the most of London this month!