We are thrilled to announce that ‘In Common’ is the theme for #LFA2023!
For the third year we have asked our growing community to suggest a theme for LFA 2023. The proposals were then considered by our Curation Panel, which, after much deliberation, has picked ‘In Common’.
We live in a state of multiple crises: climate, health, class, and race have highlighted a wide spectrum of systematic inequalities our cities hold; from lack of affordable housing to obvious gaps in provision of greenspaces and other natural resources. Discussion and debate online and in person can revolve around our differences. But this is not inherently negative; discussing what we don’t have in common is an important part of improving our built environment, ensuring we are working with those with different lived experiences who interact with cities in the ways that we don’t. In some cases, architects, developers, and planners may not have much in common with the people who use the spaces they’re creating – what effect does this have on our city?
In so many aspects of our lives, we are brought together by ‘commons’ – both physical and digital, involving both the natural and manmade. Oxford dictionary defines commons as ‘land or resource belonging to or affecting the whole of a community’. Yet there can often feel a lack of togetherness or transparency in decision making with in this. Common land or an area of land for use by the public has a long history in London. Tooting Commons, Clapham Common, Blackheath Common and Wimbledon Common were created to provide open, green spaces for the public to access and use, which still play an integral role in our urban environment. But access to our communal spaces is not always equal, our spaces are not always inclusive in their design nor welcoming, which prompts the questions what and who is public space for?
In recent years, we have seen a resurgence of urban commons as an alternative model of commons, developing small pockets of often unwanted land through peer-to-peer governance and production, alongside a rethinking of our evolving highstreets as contemporary commons reclaimed by people who use them. Can these models be scaled up to influence the city as a whole? How can we create, reclaim, maintain, and govern our city to create spaces that are truly open and accessible to all, by looking specifically at what connects us and what doesn’t?
‘In Common’, also encourages us all to reflect on the finite number of natural resources we have left – water, crops for food, a habitable earth, which need to be nurtured and sustained by us all. These shared resources need to be maintained, as do the systems and practices that govern and preserve them. How can architecture not only protect our shared resources but regenerate them in the face of the climate emergency?
Throughout the Festival, we hope to explore and interrogate how the experiences we do and don’t have in common are central to the evolution and development of the city. Our community holds knowledge, skills and understanding to find solutions to the real-life challenges we face, and we look forward to bringing these explorations together in June 2023.
In the meantime, gather your team and start thinking about how our theme resonates with you. What does ‘In Common’ mean to you, your profession and your city?
Join the conversation on social media and let us know your thoughts using #LFA2023.
Somers Town Acts by NOOMA Studio for LFA 2022 © Luke O’Donovan
Rosa Rogina, Director of LFA, said:
“We have more in common than we realise. But how do we create and shape the space we share: our city?
By examining what we have in common, and what we don’t, we see potential. Potential for us as citizens, a profession and community to reclaim our city for public good, to rethink how we design and develop it for the existing and future generations, as well as to reimagine spaces in London as places for participation, civic activity, and shared ownership. We have resources in common, which allows us as communities to come together and ensure these resources are accessible to all. Ultimately, we want to empower all citizens to have a voice in our city.
“I’m delighted that the festival’s curation panel has chosen ‘In Common’ as such an interesting theme for 2023. We’d like to encourage our community of old and new event organisers to interpret the theme and bring it to life in the festival as best as they can. Over the coming months I’m looking forward to seeing ideas come forward, and I can’t wait to see them take shape in June.”
Between Life and Death Tour, LFA 2019 © Luke O’Donovan
Jordan Whitewood-Neal, curation panel member, said:
“Drawing more from the social contemplation of what we as individuals and communities have in common, this year’s theme reminds us that not only are people at the heart of architecture but that our similarities and differences are vital interrelations to acknowledge. But as well as the question of what, I think another important question is where do we have in common? What places can and do we commonly go, and where can we not? The idea of the commons, common space, and commonality are all up for grabs, to either idealise or critique. Access to, in and around the city is dependent to an extent on the accessibility of public spaces, so when we ask where we have in common, we are also asking, where are we truly able to go freely and spontaneously, and where is only common for some?”
The call for entries for #LFA2023 will open in January 2023, before proposed events are considered by the festival’s curation panel.
The curation panel for the LFA2023 includes:
- Tara Gbolade, Mayor’s Design Advocate and co-director of award-winning Gbolade Design Studio
- João Guarantani, Senior Programme Manager, Architecture, Design and Fashion at British Council
- Melodie Leung, Associate Director at Zaha Hadid Architects
- Fiona MacDonald, Co-Founder and Director of MATT+FIONA
- Nic Monisse, Deputy Design Editor at Monocle Magazine
- Binki Taylor, Partner at The Brixton Project
- Jordan Whitewood-Neal, architectural researcher, designer and founder of DIS/
- Hadi Yassine, first year Architecture student at Kingston University and London Neighbourhood Scholarship Trust Scholar for 2022/3.