London Festival of Architecture – Celebration of Design

The London Festival of Architecture is a one-month-long celebration of architecture and city-making, taking place every summer across London. Each year there are events running at different locations, including Barnet, Brixton, Holborn, South Westminster, the city of London, and more.

The main philosophy of the festival is celebration, humanity, inclusivity, and timeliness. Since its origin in 2004, the aim has been to celebrate good design. During the years each theme has been a reflection of real issues society is facing. What is more, the festival does not celebrate buildings but instead, the people who are using them and the in-between spaces.

The theme of this year’s festival is In Common. In many aspects of our lives, we have been gathered by “commons”. This year’s theme allows us to rethink what we have in common and what we don’t.

Some of the events that are taking place this year are Zaha’s Moonsoon and the Surfacing Stories.

Zaha’s Moonsoon is located at 10 Bowling Green Lane, London, and explores some of the design strategies employed in Zaha Hadid’s iconic first interior project outside of the UK, the Moonsoon restaurant and bar in Sapporo, Japan. In this exhibition, Moonsoon is contextualized within the increasing fiscal spending on design in 1980s Japan. The exhibition also reveals how elements of the design came from Zaha Hadid’s Arab heritage and highlight the collaborative nature of any architectural project. The opening hours for the exhibition are 2 pm to 6 pm, Thursday to Saturday until 22nd July 2023.

Surfacing stories focuses on the narrative foregrounded stories of style, architectural design, building types and materials. In this installation, activists, architects, historians, and writers offer fresh interpretations of objects in the Architecture Gallery, surfacing stories about provenance, eurocentrism, women, disability, LGBTQ+, colonialism, and climate change. It is open from 1st June to 21st August and the visiting hours are from 10 am to 5 pm.

Besides these two events, there are also many more which could be explored on the website of the London Festival of Architecture.

Each year the festival works with artists from across the globe. This year the curatorial panel includes Tara Gbolade, Binki Taylor, Nic Monisse, Hadi Yassine, Fiona MacDonald, and more. “This is a selection of a range of topics that I think address some of the most pressing issues in society today. They speak to us as practitioners (rather than designers), involved in prioritizing the people, places, and communities that make life in London the vibrant and energetic city that it is – and could be,” says Tara Gbolade, director of Gbolade Design Studios.

The London Festival of Architecture has also a tradition of running architectural competitions. The design competitions range from permanent improvements to the public realm to temporary festival pop-ups. These installations are one of the ways in which the festival can create a positive change in the city. In addition, the competitions could help launch the careers of emerging architects and designers.