Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Design render © Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

With the new mayor focusing our attention on smart development and social equality, 2016 will be a banner year for the London Festival of Architecture. Election watchers will be familiar with many of this year’s hot topics: community spaces, social housing, docklands renewal. But considering the theme this year is ‘community’, there will be something for every tribe of Londoner. Out of 300 events, we’ve picked the 10 must-sees.

Exhibition: Remembering Chernobyl – London’s first wooden church since 1666

Belarusian church Spheron Architects
Courtesy of Spheron Architects

Thirty years after Chernobyl, Spheron Architects and Timberwright are collaborating on a memorial church that resembles one of many lost in rural Belarus and Ukraine after the nuclear disaster. Visitors get limited access to the site on weekends in June, and to at a pop-up exhibition across the road.

4-26 June; 39 Holden Road, N12 8HS

Open studios

Sneak a peek into dozens of architect studios across town. South London firms like Formation and Karakusevic Carson are worth the trip for the way they approach public housing and disused spaces to engage local communities – on 3 June, Ben Adams Architects asks visitors to reflect on urban living. Uptown in Clerkenwell, Grimshaw Architects open their refurbished atrium for a film night and Q&A on 23 June.

Screening: Utopia London

Longtime Islington resident Tom Cordell directs this personal take on his London neighbourhood, meeting with local architects inside some of the buildings they designed. The controversial Bevin Court estate plays a starring role, along with Bernard Lubetkin’s modernist Finsbury Heath Centre.

4 June, 2-3.30pm; Islington Museum, 245 St John Street, EC1V 4NB

Talk: The art of designing civic spaces

A civic square designed by BIG in Battersea Courtesy of Battersea Power Station Development Company
A civic square designed by BIG in Battersea
Courtesy of Battersea Power Station Development Company

The Nine Elms development, slowly taking shape in the decommissioned Battersea Power Station and surrounding wasteland, hosts a programme of tours, poetry readings and a forum with some of the project’s developers and architects. Kai-Uwe Bergmann of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) discusses his design of Battersea’s new ‘town square’.

7 June, 6-8.30pm; 188 Kirtling Street, SW8 5BN

Tour: Creative workspace in the Royal Docks

‘Derelict London’ author Paul Talling guides visitors through Silvertown and the Royal Docklands, viewing Brutalist buildings and warehouses tapped for regeneration. He’ll lead discussions around new, flexible art hubs and the role of creative workspaces in urban renewal.

9 June, 10.30-11.30; West Silvertown DLR Station to Siemens Crystal

Installations: Serpentine pavilion and summer houses

Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Design render © Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)
Serpentine Pavilion 2016 designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Design render © Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)

Come to Kensington Gardens for the Serpentine Gallery’s annual summer pavilion – a giant ‘unzipped wall’ designed by Bjarke Ingels Group. And stay for the new series of ‘summer houses’ built by four very different architects. Each takes inspiration from the neighbouring Queen Caroline’s Temple.

10 June-9 October; Kensington Gardens, W2 3XA

Installation: Intertwined

Limbo through a residential construction site strung with ‘wombs’ of elastic ropes. Flow Architecture ‘choreographs’ your route through the space, recording the action with motion-capture technology. The end result weighs the rough tectonics of the site against the fluid elegance of the movement.

10-12 June; 72 Scarsdale Villas, W8 6PP

Tour: Beyond the Olympics

Local planner Ralph Ward leads a walk around nu-Stratford, touching on its industrial past, recent evolution and future plans. He’ll dip into Hackney Wick, where clusters of warehouses now operate as clubs and galleries, and pass derelict sites being transformed into new homes for the V&A, Sadler’s Wells and UCL.

11 June, 11am-1pm; Stratford Station, E15 1AZ; £25.50

Installation: The hive

Wolgang Buttress' UK Pavilion in Milan Photography: Mark Haddon
Wolgang Buttress’ UK Pavilion in Milan
Photography: Mark Haddon

A 17-metre aluminium installation that mimics a ‘hive’ of 40,000 bees is artist Wolfgang Buttress’ way of highlighting the plight of the honeybee. The ethereal structure laced with LED lights won a design award at last year’s Milan Expo, but this year features a new, buzzy soundtrack, thanks to a collaboration with members of Spirtualized.

18 June-30 November; Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, TW9 3AB

Talk: Breaking down walls – new ways of approaching creative workspace

How can new attitudes to spatial design influence ingenuity among creatives and impact the wider community? A panel of architects and academics explores the issue. Heading the discussion is Michael Cubey of Bow Arts, an organisation that renews derelict east London spaces with studios that challenge traditions.

22 June; Nunnery Gallery, 181 Bow Road, London, E3 2SJ

Installation: Grow:Store

Courtesy of The Edible Bus Stop
Courtesy of The Edible Bus Stop

For the month of June, the fascinating resource centre New London Architecture will be transformed into a modular system of community gardens. Visit the schedule of workshops to learn how to maintain your own portable garden, use it to fill a neglected space and provide instant edibles.

1-30 June; The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, WC1E 7BT

Ellen Himelfarb

Ellen Himelfarb covers architecture, art, travel and everything in between, for publications including The Sunday Times and The Globe & Mail

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