The world’s biggest annual architecture festival
in the world’s capital city for architecture.
The London Festival of Architecture takes place across London this June. With an amazing programme of events and activities, we welcome everyone into the conversation around architecture and our city.
We’ll open the doors to iconic tours, architectural installations and stunning brick creations; energetic debates to Studio Lates; workshops in extraordinary spaces and tours of new places; exhibitions and bespoke artistic commissions; political discussions and lots of new construction – the London Festival of Architecture has something for everyone.
What makes us unique is that our vast programme of more than 400 exceptional events is delivered by a diverse mix of independent organisations and individuals – helping to radically democratise the debate about architecture and our city. Our theme for this year’s festival is ‘boundaries’.
To live in cities is to be surrounded by boundaries: borders, fences, walls, zones and city limits. Boundaries make us comfortable. They define us: they put us in our place. Good fences make good neighbours...
From suburban semis with picket fences to mansions with their moats, the British have always used architecture to express their love of a good boundary: the rich man in his castle, the poor man at the gate. Look around London and everywhere you will see the architectural signals that define people past and present, their place in society, and the distribution of property.
Perhaps Brexit is a logical extension of that British desire to retreat within a national boundary – to find an imagined comfort zone and put the rest of the world in its place. But architecture in Britain – and London in particular – isn’t always so insular. London’s architects have long stepped outside national boundaries to build around the world – all the while pushing the boundaries of what a building should look like and what modern engineering can do.
London developed as a city of villages. But who really knows where Hoxton ends and Shoreditch begins? Perhaps boundaries are made to be blurred? In a city where postcode or social boundaries can be deadly, architecture should be used to shape a city that is safer and more at ease with its diversity.
What about London’s boundaries? Do the mental and physical boundaries of North and South London still apply? With London’s sweeping economic effect felt across the country, what role does the Green Belt have in constraining London’s boundaries? Where is London’s boundary? Will the city that broke free of its Roman wall burst out from the M25?
Consciously or unconsciously, maybe living in cities is really about breaking boundaries. Just as architecture can be used to constrain and define us, so can it also level us or set us free. The City’s open plan offices are an egalitarian paradise compared with the rigidly hierarchical spaces that went before. The best new housing is tenure blind. Professionally, a new generation of architects is railing against boundaries and glass ceilings that bound their predecessors.
And what about personal boundaries? A hand here or an unwelcome comment there? What’s acceptable these days? Talking of personal boundaries, what’s happened to notions of personal space? Something to ponder when crammed on the Tube. Are there no boundaries anymore?