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.