For the whole of June every year, London gives itself over to a wonderful world of architecture with magnificent installations, workshops, lectures and debates. It becomes a London full of unexpected moments of inspiration and discovery. You never know what might be around the next corner. With some 500 events in every corner of the city, the London Festival of Architecture 2018 is set around the theme of Identity. Identity gives such an exciting scope to architects and designers. After all, few cities in the world can boast such a melting pot of nationalities, cultures and communities. Each one contributes a wealth of ideas and diversity, creating an ever-changing series of identities in every part of this great city of ours.
Looking Forward to…
Obviously, you cannot hope to do every event – we haven’t tried but we’ve done the maths. So the secret is to pick a select few events or decide on a date or area and blitz as much as you can in the time you have. We prefer to take our time and make the most of a few carefully-chosen events. On our list over the next couple of weeks are ‘Of Rust, Silt and Chemicals – The New Olympic Legacy Project’. We’re hoping to be dazzled by some really creative uses of buildings, land and space. We’re also hoping to catch one of the screenings of ‘Émigré Architect, a short film looking at the contribution made to the landscape of London by architectural talent from around the world. Our own interior design team has always been multicultural and their different approaches are invaluable in keeping ideas fresh and relevant.
If we can squeeze it in, we are hoping to find the time for a proper tour of the the City of London Benches. We’ve spotted a few so far but would like to collect the full set. These temporary benches may not be our usual idea of luxury furniture but they are fun, innovative and a great talking point. The benches are the winning designs in a competition organised by the London Festival of Architecture. These are the designers to watch. The benches are a public gift to the city and are on display in two clusters, five in Cheapside and five in the Eastern Cluster. Check out our update in a couple of weeks’ time to see if we achieved all ten.
If that’s what we have to look forward to, what has piqued our interest so far in this year’s festival?
Treehouse, Battersea Power Station
Just over the bridge from our Chelsea HQ stands the Treehouse, an installation set between the iconic Battersea Power Station and the river. It is a little unexpected in that it is not a house as such and it’s not in a tree. Having said that, it is spectacular – a place of contrasts, somewhere to explore, to play or to sit and reflect. Designed by London’s Studio Kyson, the Treehouse is described as a nomadic pavilion, an abstract take on a traditional concept. Its palette of charred timber and smoked glass aims to explore form, light and texture through a series of contrasts: dark and light; solid and void; rough and smooth. The reflections in the dark, mirrored exterior mean that, although stark and striking, the Treehouse embeds itself beautifully into its surroundings. In our opinion, this thought-provoking installation is well worth a look. It is there for the whole month so there’s no excuse.
The Lego Architectural Challenge
Part of the Big Architectural Family Day organised by the Royal Academy, designed to inspire children of all ages and get them interested in architecture. They were encouraged to think about the design and function of buildings in London. It was far more than just drawing pretty houses. Our highlight of the day was undoubtedly the Lego Architectural Challenge. Three of the UK’s leading architects’ practices went head to head with a big box of Lego. The brief was to consider the city’s identity and create a slice of London typical of the city but with its own distinct personality, all forged in colourful Lego. Each team worked with students from the Royal Academy’s attRAct programme. As crowds gathered and younger children crept ever closer, they were also rewarded by being invited to take part.
Policy & Place
Promoting Identity and Heritage in Designing Great Places
Organised by the British Property Federation, this seminar outlined how policy making aims to combine the heritage of the old with the needs of the new. But who defines what is heritage? And does hanging on to heritage help or hinder? Does conservation of a community’s past stifle innovation and the recognition of changing communities and culture?
At Juliettes Interiors, our interior design projects always have to provide the client with a flawless interior, fit for 21st century living. However, this does not mean that we can ignore the identity and the heritage of the home we are designing. Our property development projects must deliver a finished property with all mod cons whilst being sympathetic to the building’s history and surroundings. The skill is knowing what adds to the property and what detracts. We would never advocate saving something just because it’s always been there. It has to belong.
Building on London’s Eclectic Heritage
The seminar led us to think about the city around us and areas where redevelopment has really made the most of history and heritage. One of our favourite redevelopment projects has to be Kings Cross, taking a once seedy, run-down part of London and turning its derelict landscape into a vibrant place to live, work, eat, shop and play. Its old Victorian coal and fish depots, warehouses, cobbled streets and goods yards have been given a new and exciting lease of life.
Kings Cross : From Seedy to Spectacular
Rather than demolish the robust buildings, grand brick viaducts and industrial revolution ironworks, they now form the heart of the development, making the most of its industrial heritage. This project is half way through and so far has delivered 19 new and refurbished buildings, with around 8500 people working in the offices, restaurants, shops and cafés. It has created 900 new homes, from student accommodation to the luxury redevelopment of Gasholders London, once 3 old interconnected gas holders, now luxury, high end apartments. Clever policy making, respect for its heritage and inspired design have made this area a fabulous place to live, eat, shop, meet or just wander. Londoners even bring their children here at weekends to play in the fountains in Granary Square.
A Snapshot So Far…
So we have our next couple of weeks planned out. How about you? Tell us what has inspired you at this year’s London Festival of Architecture. Send us pictures of anything that surprised you – or your favourite bench, maybe. We’d love to hear from you.