A vision for the future
London Festival of Architecture
With its iconic, centuries-old buildings and sleek, contemporary edifices towering into the skyline, London has arguably the best architecture of any city in the world. And at London’s heart, Northbank boasts more than its fair share of London’s architectural gems: Somerset House, One Aldwych Hotel, Bush House and the forthcoming Aldwych House, to name a few.
Running across the city throughout June, the London Festival of Architecture will hit the Northbank with exhibitions and workshops tied to its theme for 2017: memories. “Memory is fundamental to how people experience any city, and London is a rich depository of memories, old and new,” says festival director Tamsie Thomson. “This year’s festival will celebrate those memories, create new ones, and explore how London memories can influence the future of our city.”
Somerset House will host two events, kicking off with Memory Machine, a three-hour workshop mapping London by plotting journeys through the city and exploring past and present buildings. Organisers promise the event will examine how London’s changing landscape will affect city life in years to come.
At the end of June, the London School of Architecture will host the second event at Somerset House. London Tomorrow is a two-day exhibition showcasing the graduating students’ innovative designs and prototypes for future city living, addressing challenges such as population growth and income inequality.
Northbank will also play host to a design competition for the build of a maypole, a community symbol that’s synonymous with the Aldwych area, which was once home to the tallest maypole in the world outside St Mary le Strand church.
Memory Machine, June 3, 12–3pm, Somerset House; London Tomorrow, June 23–25, Somerset House
Once the esteemed headquarters of the BBC World Service, Bush House is an icon of Aldwych architecture, with its striking and intricate portico sculpture symbolising friendship between Britain and the USA.
King’s College London has leased the five Bush House buildings, expanding its footprint on the Strand and increasing its teaching, social and events spaces. The move into Bush House, Strand House, King House and Melbourne House began last autumn and will take place gradually until 2025.
Boosting its Strand campus with such prestigious historic buildings is part of a strategic vision from King’s to build on its status as one of the top universities in the world, with the new space allowing it to expand its education and research portfolio.
As well as lecture theatres, teaching rooms and a students’ union, the buildings will host spaces for talks, launches, events and exhibitions for partner organisations and the public, as well as the King’s staff and students. Among the venues will be a 120-seat Harvard-style lecture theatre, a flexible 400-seat lecture theatre with retractable seating and dedicated hospitality space. For private hire, email firstname.lastname@example.org/ 020 784 81700.
The return of LFW
After a brief hiatus in West London, London Fashion Week returned to Aldwych this year, setting up in its new home, The Store Studios at 180 The Strand. In February, the biggest names in fashion flocked to Aldwych for the first look at top designers’ A/W 17–18 collections at London Fashion Week. It was followed by the newly rebranded London Fashion Week Festival (previously London Fashion Weekend), giving fashion-hungry Londoners the chance to see the coveted clothes up close and rub shoulders with designers.
The new venue was a hit: footfall over London Fashion Week and the Festival was up 50 per cent on last year. Organisers the British Fashion Council (BFC) hope that The Store Studios, already the home of London Fashion Week Men’s, which takes place once a year, will become the fashion hub of London. The city’s deputy mayor for culture and creative industries Justine Simons has labelled 180 The Strand “the coolest new creative quarter in London and a fantastic opportunity for the public”.
“There is a big appetite from both brands and the public to open up our industry to a wider audience,” says Caroline Rush CBE, the chief executive of BFC, adding that there will be lots of ways for the public to get involved in the London Fashion Week Festival.
London Fashion Week S/S 18, September 15–19; London Fashion Week Festival, September 21–24