London Festival of Architecture returns to its roots with fancy dress opening ceremony
The UK’s capital has been gearing up for London Festival of Architecture 2010 for months now and last Saturday the two week programme kicked off with a bang as Will Alsop, Paul Finch and Roger Zogolovitch (dressed as John Nash – London’s first hugely influential town planner architect – the Grand Old Duke of York and the Prince Regent respectively) led the opening procession through the heart of the historic city. From within their horse-drawn carriage, the three architecture maestros made their way (at 8.30 in the morning no less!) up a rather bemused Regent Street to All Souls Church, where a pretty pink wreath was laid at the bust of John Nash. Fancy dress parade complete, the fortnightly festivities could commence. With the 2012 Olympics on the horizon, the theme for the LFA 2010 has been announced as ‘The Welcoming City’, celebrating the huge efforts that architects and developers have gone to create a city, and indeed a country, that the UK can be proud of when the world comes to call.
As part of the LFA, the London Metropolitan University and The Architecture Foundation, with support from Design for London, are delivering the International Architecture Student Festival. Following the success of the Student Festivals of 2006 and 2008, the 2010 IASF will see twenty projects from ten academic institutions created in two of the LFA’s focus areas – High Street 2012 and Bankside. Under the theme ‘Reduce, Reuse, Recycle’, young creative minds from the student community have concocted a number of ways to get the public excited, not just about architecture, but about green issues in general. Students from The Bartlett, UCL have designed ‘Hansel and Gretel’s Walking Bus Stop’ – an architectural translation of the classic fairy story for city children waiting for a walking bus. The project aims to encourage children to ‘explore their local area without fear by inviting them to decorate their bus stops’. With a different slant on the theme, the Welsh School of Architecture intend to create ‘Nomadic Allotments’ from a range of reclaimed materials in the Borough Market and Bankside community. Using items such as pallets and packaging from the market itself, the allotments will offer a variety of growing, eating and seating options for market-shoppers, festival visitors and passers-by alike. This is an exciting opportunity for students and institutions alike to showcase their aspiring design talent and for visitors to get a sneak peek into what the architectural future looks like the UK.
Even if the majority of LFA broadcasting has thus far slipped under your radar, it has been impossible to miss the media frenzy generated by the ‘Love Your Street’ scheme, designed to get the public more architecturally active! The LFA are inviting all members of the public to submit ideas as to how the streets of London could be transformed, with an incentive of £500 up for grabs. The capital-wide programme hopes to bring together building and landscape professionals with local communities in an effort to spruce up our shared spaces and, under the festival’s theme ‘The Welcoming City’, intends to show how ‘low budget, high impact events, installations and campaigns, which engage the community with their street can bring about a renewed feeling of ownership of, and involvement with, public space in the city’. This statement resonates further with the knowledge that the LFA is being hosted this year with only a minimal proportion of the budget that was awarded for the 2006 and 2008 events.
On a more frivolous note, a life-sized 3-dimensional puzzle will be cropping up in a number of locations across London on Monday 21st and Tuesday 22nd June with the intention of enticing Londoners to distract from their daily grind to explore and interact with the world around them. Creator of the brightly coloured ‘35 Cubes’ puzzle, Noel Farrer, said: “I am really excited to see how Londoner’s react to the Cubes. I believe the privatisation and sanitisation of much of our urban public realm has reduced people’s use of space to necessary journeys only. The 35 Cubes has been created to challenge the way we use and manage landscape in light of The Festival’s theme surrounding the development of ‘The Welcoming City’.”
This is just a glimpse of the delights on offer over the next two weeks. Log on to the LFA website for more information by clicking here and see separate features on Regent Street Windows and the Foldaway Bookshop .