The central focus for the 2021 London Festival of Architecture has been announced. LFA 2021, which is set to take place from 1 to 30 June 2021, pandemic restrictions willing, has a starkly simple and compelling theme, ‘Care’. A deliberately broad topic that is also incredibly relatable in this age of pandemic, ‘Care’ is at the heart of the LFA’s annual call for proposals, which stays open until 7 March 2021.

Tamsie Thomson, managing director of New London Architecture, which co-ordinates the London Festival of Architecture, describes this year’s focus as a way for architecture to find common ground with empathy, emphasising the importance of both in the process. Traditionally, the LFA’s programming has been diverse, with events and installations scattered around the capital. Naturally, last year was digital-only; 2021 will hopefully mix online activities with live events.

Rocks and Reeds bench for the LFA 2019 project Parklets. Photography: Luke O’Donovan 

‘This year’s London Festival of Architecture is a chance to examine "care" in all its forms, and perhaps an exhortation for us all to care more,’ Thomson says, and the LFA’s Curatorial Panel is doubtless hoping to be inspired by entries from all facets of society. The panel includes journalist Will Hurst, architects Manijeh Verghese, Dipa Joshi and David Buckle and the broadcaster Suzy Klein, among others.

The organisers hope that ‘Care’ encourages contributions from every sector, from the purely practical world of healthcare to ongoing ways of making urban spaces more inclusive and accessible. Sadly, it’s the failings of care that have dominated recent headlines, as layers of complexity have to be staunched by emergency planning or peeled back by public enquiries.

Care for the environment is also top of the agenda for 2021, which also sees the COP 26 Summit in Glasgow this November. Back in 2019, there were around 600 physical LFA events across the city and 800,000 visitors. Here’s hoping that Thomson and her team can harness the capital’s creative energy to get 2021 into better shape. §