This is a sponsored article on behalf of the London Festival of Architecture.
How can we make our city greener and healthier? What about more inclusive and equitable? The London Festival of Architecture is set to provide plenty of inspiration when it returns on 1 June.
This month-long celebration of architecture and city-making is comprised of over 400 events, including talks, tours, installations and performances. Centred on the theme 'In Common', here's a chance to reflect on what we share as city dwellers — from our public spaces to the finite number of natural resources available to us — and celebrate our differences.
There's much to delight architecture aficionados in this year's programme, but you don't need to know your Christopher Wren from your Renzo Piano to get a kick out of it.
Below you'll find our top 10 highlights — most of which are free to attend — that invite you to see London in a whole new light. Let's get stuck in, shall we?
1. An urban playground for all ages
An element of the unexpected is coming to the City of London, in the form of a new, family-friendly installation by McCloy + Muchemwa. Urban Playground is inspired by modular wooden toys — it's a collection of unique shapes "carved" from a block that you can climb, play, or simply relax on.
1 June-31 August
2. The changing face of Fleet Street
London's historical home of print and law has entered a new era of development. Learn all about it, and discover Fleet Street's colourful past, on More In Common: The Changing Face Of Fleet Street — a walking tour with Ben Adams Architects.
1 June. Free — book ahead.
3. Penge, past and present
Explore a unique corner of south east London on the Penge & Palace Trail. On this self-guided adventure, you'll encounter lush parkland, intriguing architecture, striking street art, and maybe even a pub or two. It's a fantastic way to get acquainted with the area's history — all you need is a comfy pair of shoes and the trail map.
1 June-31 August
4. Accessible installations in Smithfield
A radical intervention is underway at one of our favourite pocket parks; Seats At The Table explores how we can design truly accessible public spaces, via a series of sustainable temporary installations in the City of London. Head to Postman's Park to peep at some striking street furniture and learn more about the scheme, which is a collab between Re-Fabricate and the DisOrdinary Architecture Project.
Installation runs 2-30 June. There's also an open day of participatory workshops on 11 June. All activities are free!
5. Strand Aldwych guided tour
Did you know that part of Strand has been transformed into a beautiful new public space? Explore the gardens and lounging lawns of Strand south of Aldwych at The Remaking Of Strand As Common Ground: a guided tour with its lead designer, Cannon Ivers of LDA Design.
7 June. Free — book ahead.
6. Migration Museum fun
Get stuck into creative workshops and discover stories of Lewisham's vibrant and culturally diverse communities at The Places That Make Us, a (mostly) free day of fun at the Migration Museum. Help make memory maps with artist Kim Chin, see a film about the borough's self-build movement, and learn all about Mr Pink's legendary house.
10 June. Free — book ahead.
7. Open air orchestral concert
The concourse of Brixton's iconic Recreation Centre comes alive with orchestral music inspired by the venue's cultural and architectural significance, on 11 June. This free outdoor concert by Brixton Chamber Orchestra sees the ensemble branch off onto the walkways that surround the building, creating an utterly unique soundscape. This is Brixton Re:Created.
11 June. Free — book ahead.
8. Unique farm-to-fork concept
You may have heard of vertical farming. The practice allows us to grow crops at scale in urban environments (there are several in London — we even visited one at a former Clapham bomb shelter a few years ago). But just how far can it go? Vertical Farm-to-Fork is a new project to grow food, cook, and serve food under one roof, currently in its design stage. Learn all about it through talks, tours, and an XR-powered installation at Royal Docks venue The Factory Project.
9. Hidden histories of Edgware
Nature returns to the north London neighbourhood of Edgware, via a trio of installations along Station Road. Let's Meet On The Edge — created by local collective Adrienne Lau, Daniella Levene and Leila Taheri — highlights the town's lost agricultural past and present opportunities for greening the area.
15 June-13 July. Free — just turn up.
10. Reimagining heritage buildings
How can community and social enterprise ownership of heritage assets help bring communities together? Find out at this thought-provoking panel discussion from Architectural Heritage Fund (AHF). Since 1976, the AHF has promoted the conservation and reuse of historic buildings, including the forthcoming Quentin Blake Centre for Illustration in Clerkenwell's old waterworks.
22 June. Free — book ahead.
This is just a small selection of what's going on — visit the London Festival of Architecture website to browse the full programme and book tickets.
The London Festival of Architecture. 1-30 June.