LFA 2023 kicks off, celebrating togetherness and common ground

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) 2023 is launched today, putting the spotlight on its theme, 'In common'

Seats at the Table design concept as part of LFA 2023
Crystal Palace Park's dinosaur sculptures are a stop on the Penge and Palace trail, one of LFA 2023's many tours exploring London
(Image credit: Kes-tchaas Eccleston)

The London Festival of Architecture (LFA) 2023 kicks off today (1 June 2023), launching its month-long celebration of the built environment and all things city- and building-focused. The annual festivity, a landmark in the capital's cultural calendar, is centred this year on the theme 'In common'. This is an LFA edition about sharing, common ground and togetherness – and the city, any city, is a good example of spaces where this approach can manifest itself. A plethora of events and activities, from exhibitions, one-off installations and tours, to talks and discussions, populates the ever-growing programme of the much-loved festival. Scroll down, for our highlights. 


Common Grounds: The Opportunities and Challenges of Community-Led Development

team photo of Hastings Commons

Hastings Commons

(Image credit: Hastings Commons)

Join Hastings Commons and the London Interdisciplinary School as they celebrate community-led regeneration with a talk featuring some of the capital's most active architecture studios in the field. IF_DO, Archio and Assemble are going to share experiences and discuss sustainable communities and their future, in London, and beyond. 

13 June

The Architect Has Left The Building

The Architect Has Left The Building view of exhibition showing film room

‘The Architect Has Left The Building’, exhibition view

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

What happens after a project's delivery? When the architecture team steps back, and life takes over? It's exactly this that photographer Jim Stephenson and artists Sofia Kathryn Smith and Simon James are exploring in their immersive showcase that opens at the RIBA this week. The exhibition, featuring recent projects by Grafton Architects, Henley Halebrown, Carmody Groarke, Jamie Fobert Architects and more, blends expert photography and film to highlight how users populate and use buildings. 'We wanted to celebrate film’s capacity to show the power of the building,' said curator Pete Collard at the opening. 'The documentation of architecture has a long history of omitting people,' Stephenson adds. 'I’m seeing architecture as a backdrop. I think the film [on display] is a reflection of the way we work. It’s all about capturing the little everyday interactions, making connections.' On top of its topic, which is beautifully aligned with LFA 2023's overall theme, the show also reuses the installation structure from the previous RIBA exhibition on site – Long Life, Low Energy.

3 June -12 August 

British Cooling Towers – Sculptural Giants

Ironbridge Gorge cooling towers

(Image credit: Luke O'Donovan)

Margaret Howell in association with the Twentieth Century Society (C20) is launching an exhibition at the brand's space on Wigmore Street, focusing on the historic legacy of industrial cooling towers. Bold, beautiful and brutalist, these architectural elements have had a powerful impact on the British landscape – and this show aims to celebrate and discuss it, as C20 is undertaking a campaign to raise awareness of the immediate threat British cooling towers face. 

3 – 18 June

Seats at the Table

Seats at the Table design concept

(Image credit: Re-Fabricate and the DisOrdinary Architecture Project)

Organised by Re-Fabricate and The DisOrdinary Architecture Project and located at Postman's Park, this LFA 2023 entry consists of a series of installations – co-designed with disabled and non-disabled artists and architects, Special Educational Needs (SEN) and mainstream schools, as well as makers from The Bartlett, UCL Here East – and a programme of events. Discussing issues around accessibility in public spaces, the piece considers street furniture – and there's even a table design, which visitors can use.

2 – 30 June

Deaf Architecture Front launches at RIBA

Accessibility is the key theme in this event too – although with a different focus. Architectural designer and activist Chris Laing officially launches Deaf Architecture Front at the RIBA during LFA 2023. His is a campaigning platform and collective aiming to unite the Deaf community and the architecture world and wider built environment industry. The launch event features a panel discussion featuring Zetteler founder Sabine.

6 June

Climate Migrants: Self-reliant communities after natural disasters

architect yasmeen lari portrait

Yasmeen Lari

(Image credit: Anam Baig)

RIBA Gold Medal 2023 winner Yasmeen Lari is delivering a keynote speech as part of the Ecocity World Summit 2023. The humanitarian architect is going to delve into a discussion around climate refugees, sanitation infrastructure, and community facilities in today's climate emergency. How can a community and its architecture resist climate disasters? The talk is going to be followed by a conversation with Professor Hanif Kara OBE, co-Founder and design director, AKT II. 

8 June

Penge and Palace trail

crystal palace park view of water

(Image credit: Kes-tchaas Eccleston)

Did you know there are dinosaurs in Crystal Palace? Tours and trails are a staple of the London Festival of Architecture every year, and this is no different. The Penge and Palace trail is one of them, allowing visitors to explore the unique part of London that is Crystal Palace. ‘“Penge” is one of the few Celtic place names to be found in London. Believed to mean the 'edge of wood' the name refers to the fact that the surrounding area was once covered in a forest. Today, Penge sits on the south edge of Bromley’s largest greenspace, Crystal Palace Park. With a long and rich history, the development of Penge is intimately linked to the arrival of the Crystal Palace Exhibition building in 1854, whose legacy and design innovation can be seen today in the surrounding creative communities,' write the event's organisers. You can download the trail map from the LFA 2023 website, and one of the stops includes indeed visiting Crystal Palace Park, and its 1854 dinosaur sculpture display. 

1 June – 31 August

OFF-Grid by Richard Chivers

barnet gasholder photo from exhibition OFF-Grid by Richard Chivers

(Image credit: Richard Chivers)

Artist Gareth Gardner's gallery presents OFF-Grid, showing a series of photographs by Richard Chivers focusing on the nation's 'disappearing gas holders.' Chivers' work on the industrial architectural icons has never been exhibited before, and here visitors can experience both colour and black and white visuals in an enticing mix. 'My dad used to work on the Gas Holders so I always held a bit of a fascination for them,’ said Chivers. He was prompted into action after reading an article in a newspaper about their imminent demolition. I love industrial architecture and find the gas holders with their lattice steel frames visually really interesting. The fact that the structures were a massive part of the UK skyline for years and had become landmarks for people was also intriguing.'

16 June - 7 July


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).