London Festival of Architecture: Key Themes

For the start of the London Festival of Architecture tomorrow, we've curated a list of events which resonate particularly well with the Lund Humphries architecture list… from healthy design and public housing, to the social and architectural history of London. Read on for our top event picks:

On Design and Community Well-being 

  • Manifestos: Architecture for a New Generation 2022  - 11 June 16:00-18:00
    Economic insecurities and inequalities; cuts to public services and facilities; climate change; systemic racism and discrimination, and the repercussions of Covid-19 are just some of the trials facing urban dwellers in 2022. In London, these conditions present urgent and complex spatial challenges that require new models of creative thinking and action.
  • People, Place, Planet: how to create communities that last  - 15 June 18:00-20:00
    Whether developing housing on a brownfield site or retrofitting workspaces, building communities that last - and lifting up existing ones - is the marker of successful placemaking. But how can you do it? And more importantly, in a world of ESG targets, section 106s and social charters, how can you do it authentically? This provocative debate and discussion will feature voices from across the built environment - from developers and architects to artists and community advocates - to explore how to make places and spaces genuinely work for the people that use them.
  • Healthy Homes: can we design living spaces that improve wellbeing? - 16 June 18:30-20:30
    In line with this year's LFA theme, Act, journalist and editor Amy Frearson is teaming up with co-living community Mason + Fifth to explore how architects, developers and homeowners can take action to improve the health benefits of our homes in line with the WELL Building principles.

Keen to explore these topics further? Expand your knowledge of healthy architecture and home design with these Lund Humphries books:

Rachel Armstrong explores the need for good home design in her work Safe as Houses, in which our relationship with the home itself is explored as an ever changing aspect of our lives. Armstrong poses important questions regarding our physical and mental wellbeing and how good home design can positively affect their quality: what the pandemic has done to our relationship with the living space and what we can do to improve it. Read Rachel's blogpost here.
Tim Townshend's book Healthy Cities? looks at not just the home, but the home in context of a city that functions well and keeps its people healthy through great design that emphasises our social and physical needs on both community and individual levels. Read Tim's blogpost here.

Susannah Hagan’s book Revolution? Architecture and the Anthropocene explores the same need to review our actions towards the environment and openly discuss how architectural design can improve our lives in the onset of the climate emergency. Hagan’s work focuses on the urgency of action in relation these circumstances and argues for the need to create actions over further propositions. Read Susannah's blogpost here

If you're looking for a more historical understanding of living space design, Living in Houses by Ruth Dalton is a well-researched and fascinating exploration of her personal experience living in widely different homes, from Georgian and Victorian townhouses to modern council flats.  


On London’s Character

  • Tall buildings of the City of London tour - 4 June 10:00-12:00
    The tour will start at Temple Bar with a presentation of the history and planning of tall buildings. Walking towards the cluster you will see how it has developed to the east of the Square Mile. Then you will tour the area around Bishopsgate to see 22 (the tallest), 100 and 8 Bishopsgate; the Cheesegater; the Walkie Talkie, the Gherkin, the Can of Ham, the Heron Tower, and the recently opened Pan Pacific hotel. We will finish the tour at the Barbican, passing the Post Modern Alban Gate tower, to admire one of the greatest example of brutalist architecture in the world. The tours will take place each Saturday of June led by either Peter Murray OBE or Grant Smith. 

Fascinated by London's skyline and the development of the city? You need to read Ike Ijeh's Designing London, in which Ijeh reflects on the construction of a London urban character and how urban planning and architecture have and will influence our relationship with the city in which we work and live. Ijeh analyses a range of case studies and explores the correlation between London’s urban design and its people. Read our interview with the author here.

No one building captures the character of London like 1 Finsbury Avenue. Critic and Architectural Historian Kenneth Powell, author of 1 Finsbury Avenue: Innovative Office Architecture from ARUP to AHMM, superbly explores the historiography of the building itself and the design trends that led to its creation. The book also allows the reader to understand design trends that influence the way in which London’s buildings are built and remodelled. Read Ken's blogpost here.


On Architectural History 

  • 120 Years of Housing in Somers Town - 18 June 14:00-15:30
    From Euston Station to St Pancras Station, this walk explores the community of Somers Town, just north of the Euston Road. The area’s slum housing was transformed by the action of public and charitable bodies and we will see some of the most iconic blocks of social housing of the 20th century.
  • The Model Estate - 26 June 15:00-16:30
    Somers Town is flat. Yet in its midst lies a remarkable group of housing which carries the flavour of an Italian hill town. Built during the golden age of Camden's Architect's Department, Oakshott Court was designed by an emigre from the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, taken over by a Polish survivor of Auschwitz and completed by a leading Scottish architect.
  • Time Tunnel - The history and future of Seven Dials - 1 June - 30 June 10:00
    Originally laid out by local MP, Thomas Neale, in the early 1690s, the area was mostly unknown and in a state of dereliction when the Covent Garden market moved in 1974. Since then, Seven Dials has been brought back to life through the dedication of the Seven Dials Trust, local authorities and local landowners for nearly 50 years. Today, Seven Dials is home to stores, theatres and restaurants, as well as hundreds of residents. The exhibit takes you on a walk-through time on how the streets and spaces have changed over 300 years, and what they could look like in the future. Visitors are invited to give their thoughts on the future designs for the area provided by LDA Design and Sam Jacob Studio.

For more on the topic of British (and London-specific) architectural history, take a look at these Lund Humphries books:

 Cook’s Camden by Mark Swenarton is a Lund Humphries bestseller, focusing on the architectural achievement of Camden borough architect Sydney Cook and features schemes by Benson & Forsyth, Peter Tábori, Colquhoun & Miller, Edward Cullinan and Farrell Grimshaw. The book offers important lessons and insights for current debates on the need for affordable, high-density housing. 

 Public Housing Works by Karakusevic Carson Architects proves exactly what the book's title asserts: that public housing works. The book captures a moment in housing history. It tells the story of an incredible period of change and weaves together the major shifts in design, place making and policy that have reshaped public-led architecture.

Susannah Hagan’s Designing London’s Public Spaces also features extensive literature on the topic of public housing and people-oriented architecture. Dubbed a ‘timely and wide-ranging book’ that ‘provides invaluable insights into the procurement and design of successful public spaces.' by Peter Murray of the New London Architecture, it is surely worth a read for anyone looking to explore more about the need for useful public spaces. 

Finally, London 1870-1914: A City at its Zenith by Andrew Saint is the perfect companion text for exploring the development of the city of London - to its 'zenith' as it is called in Saint's book. This book conveys the excitement, diversity and richness of London at a time when the city was arguably at the height of its power, uniqueness and attraction. Balancing the social, the topographical and the visible aspects of the great city, author Andrew Saint uses buildings, architecture, literature and art as a way into understanding social and historical phenomena. 


The London Festival of Architecture runs from 1- 30 June 2022 -- full listings online HERE.

Don't just take our word for it... see these recommendations of Lund Humphries books from experts in the field: