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Every month architects & industry insiders share their recommendations for the best exhibitions and events to visit in London.


THIS MONTH:

Sophie Roberts

Sophie is LFA Senior Programme Manager, leading on the Festival’s Destinations and Neighbourhoods programmes. Sophie holds an an MA in Design History from the Royal College of Art and Victoria and Albert Museum, and has a background in communications, digital media, and museum research, delivering events and exhibitions as well as creative campaigns.

londonfestivalofarchitecture.org

Ready yourself – London Festival of Architecture 2024 is here. This year’s Festival is an extra special edition as it also marks 20 years of LFA. It’s not only a moment for celebration but also a great opportunity for reflection, to look at the impact the Festival has had and how our city has changed over the last two decades, and the role of architects and wider built environment community.

The very first edition of the Festival in 2004 (then named London Architecture Biennale) boldly reimagined St John Street highlighting its potential to be a new, green, public space. As turf was laid, cattle brought in, and the space activated, the architecture community were drawn out of their surrounding offices and with them the boundary between the profession and the wider public began to dissolve. In this reimagined space, the public were invited to engage with ideas for the future and see first-hand the role architecture plays in the betterment of our lives and the transformation of places.

Now some 20 years later, LFA has evolved and geographically grown across Greater London, but what remains is its ability to gather and engage people, no matter their background, in conversations around city-making.

For me, the growth of the Festival into new areas has been of particular importance. It’s a reminder that creativity and ideas are not limited to one place, nor is good architecture and design. It is, in fact, on all our doorsteps and there are individuals and organisations across London working tirelessly to make our shared spaces, streets and communities greener, healthier and more inclusive.

This year I am excited for the arrival of our new Neighbourhood programmes which spotlight hyperlocal creativity and heritage, celebrating the distinctiveness of these areas and the people who are shaping them. Coupled with the Destinations programmes, which are developed collaboratively with stakeholders and sit at the heart of LFA, these place specific programmes of activity reflect and celebrate the unique identities of people and places.

Starting in North London, head to Wood Green and Alexandra Palace and do not miss Youth voices: Shaping Tomorrow’s Wood Green a youth led panel discussion and performance. Make sure you see first-hand the Reimagining of Copthall Pavilion in Barnet and share your thoughts of the space whilst taking part in a day of free family friendly activities. As you enter the Rabbit Warren Street in Fitzrovia, you’ll feel the spirit of the St John Street activation reflected in the playful approach to pedestrianisation and wayfinding, from here head over to the Studio Lates.

In East the City of London has rich programme of activity for you to enjoy anchored by a series of installations by Urban Radicals and NLA’s Public London Symposium, whilst further out in the Royal Docks you can visit the final edition of Pews and Perches and explore the benches as part of a self-guided walking tour with our ‘meet the designers’ podcast.

Moving South, be sure to visit Bromley, and learn a bit more about local architectural history through its Hidden Gems or the Victorian walking tour. Discover Sutton Town Centre and see the high street come alive through a day of performance, workshops, and food stalls.

Ensure you head to the West End with the family to discover Play Place, an installation for children that inspires collaborative, creative play with inclusive urban design and for those future city maker interact with Pi Park. Finally, immerse yourself with local culture and creavity in Ealing Road and Alperton through performance and film screenings like Women of Our Zone.

So, for LFA2024 while you may be rediscovering familiar places, I challenge you to also explore a part of our city you haven’t been to and remember architect or not, we are all part of shaping and building our future places and spaces.

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