The 2015 London Festival of Architecture launches with a new Focus Country

Ireland is this year's Focus Country at the London Festival of Architecture, which kicks off today, and Irish architects were invited to create two pavilions to mark the occasion
Ireland is this year's Focus Country at the London Festival of Architecture, which kicks off today, and Irish architects were invited to create two pavilions to mark the occasion
(Image credit: press)

The London Festival of Architecture (opens in new tab), the capital's annual celebration of architecture and the built environment, is back. The month-long extravaganza launches today with a wealth of activities all over London, promising something for everybody, around a central theme: Work In Progress.

Shining a spotlight on London's international character, this year's offerings - a striking collection of over 240 talks, exhibitions, tours and installations - include a key brand new initiative. Having a Focus Country does exactly what it says on the tin and this year's protagonist is Ireland. In collaboration with Irish Design 2015 (opens in new tab), a vehicle set up for the promotion and showcase of Ireland's creative design talent, the festival marks its launch by unveiling two pavilions on Kings Cross' latest public space, the Lewis Cubitt Square (opens in new tab).

Naturally, both structures are designed by Irish practices - there is a vibrant yellow cubic shelter by Hall McKnight (opens in new tab) and a bright red structure, reminiscent of a stage set, by a group of young Dublin-based architects, including Clancy Moore (opens in new tab), TAKA (opens in new tab) and Steven Larkin (opens in new tab). Flanking the square, the vividly coloured structures were created in a record 10-days and were conceived as spaces for the public to interact and engage with architecture. 'They had to be interactive, dynamic and the public should be able to engage with them,' explains ID2015 Chief Executive Karen Hennessy. 'We wanted them also to be a performance.'

The notion of performance did indeed come into the discussion quite a bit, explains Andrew Clancy of Clancy Moore, as did ideas around collaboration and authorship, which were equally important to the team. 'Architecture is not a solitary discipline and for us, it would be more legitimate to do something were individual authorship is to that visible.' Creating something that would be part of the public space was central to the design process and the red pavilion was designed as a public installation that can be used - visitors can sit there, walk through, while it will also be used for events.

This is why the SmartPly Oriented Strand Board (a plywood alternative) and concrete installation was created to be open, as 'part of a large façade', he says. 'The façade of every building is its most public space. The places were people gather are often a type of threshold.' Even its colour was a carefully thought-out choice, referencing the iconic London telephone box, a space, Clancy says, that sits between a room and a piece of infrastructure.

The yellow pavilion, in contrast, is more enclosed. Inside, it hosts bricks from a row of terraced houses from Belfast, where Hall McKnight have their base. It was designed as an exploration of how 'the city is assembled from individual parts', explain the architects, which feels like a perfect fit for the festival's overall theme.

Kicking off with a big bash tonight, around the newly completed pavilions, LFA 2015 will unroll in the next four weeks with a host of explorations around its wide-reaching theme. We will follow the developments week-by-week, picking our highlights, from London's exciting ongoing developments to the future of workspace. Watch this space…

The structures sit at Kings Cross' new Lewis Cubitt Square. One of the pavilions was designed by Belfast-based Hall McKnight

The structures sit at Kings Cross' new Lewis Cubitt Square. One of the pavilions

(Image credit: Designed by Belfast-based Hall McKnight)

The bright yellow installation by Hall McKnight explores how 'the city is assembled from individual parts', explain the architects

The bright yellow installation by Hall McKnight explores how 'the city is assembled from individual parts', explain the architects

(Image credit: Hall McKnight)

Illustrating this, it includes bricks from a row of terraced houses in Belfast, bringing a piece of Ireland to London

Illustrating this, it includes bricks from a row of terraced houses in Belfast, bringing a piece of Ireland to London

(Image credit: press)

The vibrant red pavilion was designed by a group of dynamic Dublin-based practices: TAKA, Clancy Moore and Steven Larkin

The vibrant red pavilion

(Image credit: Designed by a group of dynamic Dublin-based practices: TAKA, Clancy Moore and Steven Larkin)

It was conceived as a multi-functional space that can adapt to many uses, from leisure activities to events and performances

It was conceived as a multi-functional space that can adapt to many uses, from leisure activities to events and performances

(Image credit: press)

ADDRESS

Venues across London from 1 until 30 June

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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).