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This has been a year of change for theLondon Festival of Architecture. Launching in early June, this year’s architectural festivities stretch over a whole month (as opposed to 2012’s two-weeks), while 2013 also marks the first edition of the festival since it turned annual, setting the whole celebration off to a different pace.
Added to this, the 2013 festival – orchestrated by a quartet of initiating partners, including the Architecture Foundation, the British Council, RIBA London and the NLA – engages with many of London’s cultural institutions that haven’t been officially involved before, such as the Design Museum and the ICA. ‘This year’s festival throws the spotlight on the important role that architecture plays in the cultural life of London, with a programme of exhibitions, talks and events involving 25 organisations,’ explains the British Council’s Vicky Richardson.
The undercurrent of change can also be detected in several of the displays on offer this year. The Architecture Foundation show focuses on the work of Superuse Studios, promoting a change in our attitude towards material and energy re-use. The British Council’s impressive Atlas of Unbuilt World designed by Pernilla Ohrstedt Studio, presents future projects from around the world, offering a glimpse of how the global landscape is changing; you can even 3D-print your project live, courtesy of printing agency 3Dpeasy. And RIBA’s Welcome To The Social, created by architecture practice Hawkins\Brown, highlights the transformative effect of life – and design’s – social aspect.
After all ‘change’ has always been part of the Festival’s agenda. The theme was even reflected in the keynote debate organised by RIBA London earlier in the month, entitled ‘London Architecture: what would you change?’. ‘I’ll consider the festival a success if it generates debate and discussion about architecture, deepens our understanding of the subject and makes us think about it in new ways,’ says Richardson. ‘I also think it’s a chance to break down the artificial barriers that often exist between architects, clients, and the public.’
Other Festival highlights include the small yet perfectly formed Lesser Known Architecture show at the Design Museum, created by Elias Redstone, Theo Simpson and Wallpaper’s very own Ben Mclaughlin (the latter two form Mass Observation), which brings the cream of London’s crop of hidden architectural gems to the spotlight. Open studios, architecture tours (including a bicycle tour of Brutalist London) and workshops are also part of the program. And summer staples such as the Royal Academy’s Summer Exhibition, the Serpentine Gallery Pavilion (this year by Sou Fujimoto), and the architecture schools’ summer shows – including the AA, the RCA and the Bartlett – are back as well.
And while most exhibitions opened during the festival’s first week, events will be running throughout the month in both the core program and the fringe. More treats are in store for later too – the Barbican’s playfully disorientating Dalston House installation by Argentinian artist Leandro Erlich is not opening till the 26 June – so stay tuned.