Themed ‘Playful City’, this year's London Festival of Architecture (June 23 – July 8) proposes ways in which both Londoners and visitors can use the city and its buildings in a more creative, interactive and healthy way. From reinterpreting familiar places through new installations and animations and redesigning public spaces to encourage physical fitness, to testing new ways of planning future urban development, Festival participants will be encouraged to play in, and play with the city around them.
Organized by the Architecture Foundation, the British Council, New London Architecture and RIBA London, the city-wide Festival will focus on three London areas over three weekends: City and Southwark (23-24 June), Fitzrovia and Bloomsbury (30 June-1 July), and King’s Cross and Hoxton (7-8 July). Throughout the Festival the Royal Docks in East London will also be transformed into ‘London's Pleasure Gardens’, next to the Olympic venue at ExCel, with other events such as architects’ open studios and special exhibitions taking place across the city.
“All eyes will be on London in 2012 and there is no better time to celebrate the city’s rich historical and contemporary architectural culture, said Peter Murray, Chairman of NLA and Festival Founding Director. "This year’s ‘Playful City’ theme will seek to encourage thousands of people to develop a better appreciation of architectural design through a series of interactive and entertaining events all over the capital. Whether you’re a Londoner who has lived in the city for 50 years, or a visitor coming to the capital for the first time, this year’s Festival promises an abundance of fun for all.”
“London is one of the world’s leading creative hubs and nowhere is this more in evidence than in the Capital’s architecture. London’s streets never stand still, and the city will evolve again this year as the Olympics transform the East End. The West End is undergoing its own revolution, at Victoria, as we deliver The West End’s buildings of the future," said Colette O’Shea, Development Director, Land Securities London. “This dynamism has excited visitors to our City for centuries; we take great pride in contributing to London’s success and show casing our developments to the world during this year’s festival.”
The 60,000sqm ‘London Pleasure Gardens’ site will function as a Festival space, with the structures including follies, performance pavilions, gardens, an Oyster Bar, café and covered marketplace. RIBA London is running a design competition for students and recent graduates in London, to deliver 50 benches as seating for visitors across the site. RIBA London will also be working with the London Borough of Hackney, to temporarily transform Hoxton Square into a field accommodating a series of playful and more intimate spaces that will be open to the public throughout the day and into the late evening.
The NLA is producing a landmark public exhibition which will examine how the City’s buildings, streets and public spaces have defined it over the centuries and responded to the changing patterns of business. The exhibition will include visionary images of the City of London as it might be, with teams of architects and developers putting forward proposals showing the Square Mile in 2050.They will also be extending its ongoing Walks programme, led by Blue Badge guides, over the period of the Festival to coincide with the three hub weekends. Finally, for a second time, NLA will also utilise the crescent outside the Building Centre on Store Street, staging a myriad of imaginative events throughout the Festival demonstrating an alternative use for the space to encourage local residents and business as well as tourists to use the space in an imaginative way.
The British Council is working with over 50 of London’s foreign embassies and cultural institutes to display innovative and thought-provoking architecture and design projects from their countries. The International Architecture and Design Showcase 2012 will run from the 21st June to the 23rd September. A range of events including exhibitions, installations, lectures, debates and films will lead a global debate about architecture, design and issues that are vital to cities and communities around the world. Inspired by the international focus on London for 2012 and produced in partnership with the London Festival of Architecture and the London Design Festival, the International Architecture and Design Showcase will be represented within the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad. The Silver Pigeon award for architecture will be presented to the best international showcase project during the London Festival of Architecture.
The Architecture Foundation will deliver LFA programming across two geographic hubs. For the first Festival weekend, the AF Project Space near London Bridge will see invited guests and the public take up residence at a commission designed by emerging Canadian-American practice Bureau Spectacular. The installation – a domestic playground blurring the lines between privacy and publicity, home and stage – will host a rolling programme of public events. This spring Bureau Spectacular’s director, Jimenez Lai, publishes his first book – both a retrospective and a collection of fanciful graphic enquiries into pressing issues facing architecture today; his LFA installation offers the first chance to see the work of this rising star in the UK. On the closing weekend of the Festival, the AF will focus its energy on the King’s Cross area, where visitors will be invited to explore a trail of ‘urban actions’—small, playful installations which seek to improve the city for its users—designed by leading local architects, businesses and cultural organisations, co-ordinated in partnership with architects Squire and Partners.
In addition to these core activities, The Festival’s directors are calling upon Londoners to organise their own activities in response to the Playful City theme, which can be registered on the newly launched website: www.lfa2012.org. This fully interactive website gives extensive information about individual events during the Festival. It also provides detailed information for architects and design organisations interested in staging additional events and activities about the sign up process. Featuring innovative functionality allowing professionals and the public alike to post pictures, information and links to buildings across London, in partnership with www.clippings.com, the site is the digital focal point for the Festival.