Walks and tours are a perenially popular element of the London Festival of Architecture programme: opportunities to get out and about, experience buildings that may or may not be familiar, and to learn more about the fascinating city around us. The highlight here are our selection of some of the best: there are plenty more on our website. Put your coat on and get out there!
City Benches – Cheapside tour
16 June: 11.30am – 12.30pm
Join winning architects for a walking tour in Cheapside and discover more about the winning designs for temporary benches across the area – including The Garden Bench by Eleanor Dodman Architects (pictured here and 150 Cheapside).The benches are part of a larger trail of nine new benches across the City of London and London Bridge – showcasing London’s brilliant emerging architects and designers. After the tour, pick your favourite, sit down, have some lunch before joining us for the next tour (see below…)
City Benches – Eastern City Cluster tour
16 June: 3.30pm – 4.30pm
The second City Benches tour of the day starts at Jubilee Gardens, and takes in a series of benches across the Eastern City Cluster – including Double Bench by Mills Turner (pictured here and installed at Fen Court). The City Benches are the result of a design competition and a great partnership between the London Festival of Architecture, the City of London Corporation and the Cheapside Business Alliance.
Billingsgate Roman House and Baths
16, 23 & 30 June: Tours start at 11.00am, 12.00pm & 1.00pm
101 Lower Thames Street
Beneath the curious cobbled pathways of the Square Mile lies a rich Roman history surviving 2,000 years of building, fires and bombings. Enter an apparently unremarkable office building and descend to explore the site of Billingsgate Roman House & Baths. Dating to the 2nd Century AD, this is the only private Roman residence you can visit in London and would have been owned by a very wealthy person. Come and explore this extraordinary glimpse into ancient life on this guided tour lasting just under an hour.
Guided tour of St Mary-le-Bow Church
19 & 26 June: 12.00pm – 1.00pm
St Mary-le-Bow Church
Founded in or around 1080 as the London headquarters of the archbishops of Canterbury, the medieval church of St Mary-le-Bow survived three devastating collapses before being completely destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. Rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, it was destroyed once more in 1941 but was again rebuilt and re-consecrated in 1964. This guided tour shows the the Church and Crypt of St Mary-le-Bow and is led by the rector.
Reviving The Department Store, Brixton
20 June: 6.30pm – 9.00pm
248 Ferndale Road
Squire and Partners will host a talk and tour of The Department Store in Brixton, exploring ways in which the practice has preserved and expressed the shifting identities of the building throughout its history since 1906 – from grand retail destination and Brixton landmark to 1990’s squat – and discuss the careful architectural interventions and interior design approach which have secured its future.
The Painted Hall at Greenwich: Identity, Meaning and Spectacle
20 June: 6.30pm – 8.00pm
Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich
The Painted Hall at Greenwich was created as a powerful expression of national identity based on Britain’s growing economic and cultural confidence, underpinned by its naval ascendancy. The current, major, conservation project at the Painted Hall represents the latest chapter in the rich history of this famous building over three centuries. This special event brings together key members of the project team, including lead designer Hugh Broughton, and Surveyor to the Fabric (and conservation adviser) Martin Ashley to discuss the many challenges of working within a building with such a powerful sense of its own self.
From Nash to HS2: Identity and change in the Regents Park area
21 June: 4.00pm – 6.00pm
Great Portland Street underground station
This walking tour investigates the legacy of John Nash, who had a profound impact on the identity of the Regent’s Park area. Now, with the identity of the area under threat from the new HS2 rail development, we investigate how architecture can play a role in preserving its historic identity in a constantly changing urban environment. We will look at the impact of Nash, the ambitions of the Regent’s Park estate, as well as investigating Camden’s plans to mitigate HS2.
London Bridge Station walking tours
22 & 28 June: 1.00pm – 1.45pm
London Bridge Station
Join Stuart Grahn, Associate Principal at Grimshaw, and Liam Farrell, Communications Manager at Network Rail, for walking tours of the newly reopened London Bridge Station. Gain insight as you explore the station’s redevelopment. Stuart will discuss technical processes and design features while Liam will touch on the building’s history and its impact on the local community. The duration of each tour is approximately 45 minutes.
Behind the scenes tour of the Crystal
22 June: 3.00pm – 4.00pm
1 Siemens Brothers Way
Get a sneak peak behind the scenes of one of the world’s greenest buildings: join us at the Crystal for two Fridays during the London Festival of Architecture and learn about the Crystal’s design and technologies. Visit the energy centre including ground source heat pump, rainwater harvesting system, thermal wheel, see the Crystal’s efficient design elements and green events spaces, and more!
Tower Bridge Architecture Tours
22, 23 & 24 June: Tours start at 10.15am, 1.00pm, 4.00pm
Tower Bridge Exhibition
Discover the architecture of Tower Bridge on this exclusive tour created for London Festival of Architecture. These tours will lead you through the Bridge’s Towers and high-level walkways, exploring the architecture, identity and engineering of Tower Bridge. Each tour is led by one of our qualified guides and accompanied by a BSL interpreter – all are welcome.
Isle of Dogs: Remembering Public Housing
23 June: 2.00pm – 4.00pm
Heron’s Quay DLR station
This walk examines the question of identity and housing tenure. Until the London Docklands Development Corporation began work on Canary Wharf in the 1980s, over 90 per cent of housing on the Isle of Dogs was council. There has been a dramatic shift towards home ownership and private renting, which has affected the the Island profoundly, and raises questions about the identity of the incomers, in relation to the traditional Docklands families. This tour will look at public housing from the 1920s to the 1970s and look at how the intensity of development is affecting the identity of the Islanders.
Experiments in Urban Living
24 June: 11.30am – 1.30pm
Opposite The Woodman Pub, N6Highgate has a unique identity having been a separate village from London but also one of the main routes into London. As well as getting a feel for the village, in this walk we discover some of Highgate’s twentieth century radical housing developments and schemes which each have their own identity. We will pass Lubetkin’s iconic modernist High Point I and II flats, walk through Waterlow Park, pass Highgate cemetery, and explore Abraham Davis’s Holly Lodge mock-tudor 1920s estate. We conclude with Walter Segal’s 1950s St Anne’s Close.
London Bridge Revealed – Medicine
26 June: 6.00pm – 7.30pm
Outside St Olaf HouseBoth the provision and education associated with Guy’s Hospital and Kings College has a huge legacy in the area, and has attracted private hospitals as well. Not only is the Guy’s tower a significant landmark (purportedly the highest hospital building in the world both at the time of its construction in the 1970s and in the present day), but as one of the largest employers, holds the key to many personal and collective memories. Join for a guided walk in the company of Kevin Flude, former director of the Old Operating Theatre Museum (in St Thomas’ St) who will slice the area with the accuracy of a surgeon’s knife, revealing how the area retains its position at the heart of modern medicine and public health.
Sculpture in the City tour
27 June: 1.00pm – 2.00pm
29 June: 5.30pm – 7.00pm
St Botolph-without-Bishopsgate ChurchyardSculpture in the City is an urban sculpture park, set amongst the architectural landmarks in the City’s insurance district. This dynamic project, where artworks are installed for up to a year, responds to the area’s ever-evolving urban environment by making use of newly created public spaces, or spaces previously unused or inaccessible. These sculptures create an art trail woven through the contemporary towers and historic alleyways of the City’s oldest working district. The sculptures add new layers of meaning, playing with the area’s identity and encouraging visitors to see this part of the City in a new light.
London’s Thames – the river that shaped a city (river cruise)
29 June: 5.30pm – 8.30pm
Starts from North Greenwich Pier
Responding to this year’s London Festival of Architecture theme of ‘Identity’, SimpsonHaugh presents an architectural river cruise across the heart of the capital. The cruise, narrated by Benedict O’Looney with interjections from Ian Simpson, will start from North Greenwich pier and will identify some of the most notable landmarks along this famous stretch of water – including SimpsonHaugh’s most recent contributions, Dollar Bay, One Blackfriars and Circus West Battersea. The cruise will culminate in a lively discussion in the Village Hall at Circus West Battersea, where key figures from the worlds of architecture, design and urbanism will discuss the extent to which the growth and development of the city has been influenced by the river, as well as the impact of the river on the economic, cultural and community activities along its shores.
Reach for the Sky
30 June: 2.30pm – 4.30pm
St Paul’s station
The City of London, the oldest part of London was established in Roman times. Walking through its heart, will we discover the foundations for trade and business; admire the architecture of churches, Livery halls and important financial institutions and learn how major events in the City’s history have affected the focus of trade within the City.