Architecture month

By | Category: Travel news
City Hall, London

City Hall, London

Visiting iconic buildings is one of the key visitor attractions and June is the month we celebrate the London Festival of Architecture.

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) is 10 years old and its role within the UK architectural scene is growing. The annual, city-wide festival features over 150 activities taking place this month. There are any number of talks but I suspect most people would prefer to see and enjoy rather than listen. One way to do this is to visit the collection of pavilions popping up over the city, including the House of Muses at the Museum of London, the AA Rainforest installation and the Serpentine Summer Pavilion by Smiljan Radic. Or they can explore the city on over 45 guided tours by bus, bicycle and on foot, and from the top of some of London’s tallest buildings

LFA Chair, Patricia Brown, says that “London is seen as one of the key cultural hotspots in the world but, so far, architecture is not readily viewed with the same significance as, say, the arts, theatre, film or music. The festival and its activities help to reveal the contribution of architects and the ‘ecology’ of professions working within the built environment to the cultural landscape of the UK.

Is Brown right when she says that architecture is not seen in the same light as theatre or music?  What does she mean? That fewer people appreciate it? That we don’t recognise its importance?

I don’t know what was her thinking but architecture is seen in a different way. I don’t need to go into the Gherkin or the Tower of London or even the British Library to appreciate its looks. A building doesn’t appeal in the same way. Inside it is the contents that appeal.

the changing London skyline - architecture from across the ages

the changing London skyline – architecture from across the ages

The Sir John Soane Museum looks like many other London buildings on the outside but once inside, there is so much to see that you have a completely different view of it. The Norfolk building in St James’s Square could be any one of a number of buildings but the significance lies in what it was used for. It was General Eisenhower’s HQ in WWII.

I would have thought that architecture was given the same – if not greater – importance than music or theatre. For a start, everyone can enjoy it without having to pay. Everyone has an opinion from a Prince of Wales to a street cleaner. And would we have so many preservation groups if our architectural heritage didn’t appeal. As for modern architecture, the award of the Stirling Prize is shown live on channel 4 and Grand Designs has been running on the same channel for years. Woe betide any one architect who offers a building that the public doesn’t warm to.

I would have thought that all of that was sufficient evidence that architecture is esteemed.

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