Tuesday 03 June 2014

International residencies bring fresh perspectives and new ideas to East London  

This June will see the return of the British Council’s annual International Architecture Showcase; a programme delivered in partnership with London’s embassies and cultural institutes as a Headline Project of the London Festival of Architecture 2014 (LFA). Curated as a series of residencies, this year’s showcase will see ten architects from around the world paired with ten London-based practices to workshop new ideas for the Poplar area in East London.  

The programme is inspired by Poplar’s historic relationship to the Festival of Britain of 1951 when the area was the focal point for architecture. This year’s International Architecture Showcase will once again see Poplar as a space to generate new ideas and fresh thinking for this area that is undergoing significant change and has been earmarked for further development in the future.

Run in collaboration with Bow Arts Trust, the programme has been conceived to celebrate the role and influence that émigré architects have had on London and responds to the London Festival of Architecture’s central theme of ‘Capital’, exploring the notion of London as an international city which continues to benefit from global connections from around the world. 

The participating architects, including muf, Sarah Wigglesworth and Karakusevic Carson Architects, will collaborate over a two week period from 9 June, critically exploring five themes: housing, culture, town centres, nature and transition in both a local and an international context across four specific sites in Poplar. During this time the visiting architects will stay at the iconic Balfron Tower located in Poplar and designed by Hungarian-born architect Ernö Goldfinger. 

Vicky Richardson, Director of Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council, said: “We are delighted to be bringing architects to London from countries as far reaching as Austria, Chile, Estonia, Latvia, Nigeria, and Taiwan. By collaborating with UK studios we hope they will develop long-lasting friendships and professional partnerships. The programme also seeks to create encounters between individuals and cultures that will bring fresh ideas to London. I very much look forward to seeing the proposals they come up with as a result of this initiative.” 

The public programme for the London Festival of Architecture 2014 includes the headline event New Perspectives: A Celebration at Balfron, as well as a series of events hosted by embassies and cultural institutes examining the theme of émigré architecture. 

The residency programme will culminate in a public-facing series of events and activities sparking curiosity and discovery about architectural stories in Poplar. Held at the Balfron Tower on 21 June, the participating architects will present their new ideas for the area; other activities will include building tours of Balfron, walking and bus tours, screenings aboard UP Project’s Floating Cinema and discussions on the role of the émigré architect in the London context. Throughout the afternoon interior design students from the Royal College of Art will create immersive environments and invite dancers, performance artists, beatboxers and poets to respond to the space. The public will be able to discover the stories and take part in these interventions.  All activities will be free and open to all.

About the British Council

The British Council is the UK’s cultural relations organisation, extending trust and engagement between the UK and countries around the world by the exchange of knowledge and ideas. 

The Architecture, Design, Fashion team in Arts Group develops exhibitions, seminars, workshops, collaborative projects and exchanges in conjunction with our colleagues and partners in over 100 countries. http://design.britishcouncil.org/

About Bow Arts Trust 

Bow Arts was established as an educational arts charity in 1995 based in East London, where it supports a community of over 400 artists with affordable, secure, creative workspace in the heart of London's Artist Quarter. Bow Arts also manages one of the country's most exciting education programmes. The schools programme takes world-class artists into schools to improve the lives and learning of children and young people.  Our projects, workshops and training are proven to raise attainment, deliver on school improvement priorities and provide top quality learning experiences. Bow Arts also runs the Nunnery, a contemporary art gallery a stone’s throw from the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which supports a diverse range of local, national and international exhibitions and events.  Bow Arts works closely with a number of partners including East Thames, Poplar HARCA, Crisis, Tower Hamlets Council and Newham Council, and joined the National Portfolio of Arts Council England in April 2012. 


About the Royal College of Art

The Royal College of Art is the world’s most influential postgraduate university of art and design. Specialising in teaching and research, the RCA offers the degrees of MA, MPhil and PhD across the disciplines of fine art, applied art, design, communications and humanities. There are nearly 1,400 masters and doctoral students and more than 200 professionals interacting with them – including scholars, leading art and design practitioners, along with a distinguished roster of visiting specialists, advisors and academics