July 4, 2006
by Canadian Architect
Record numbers took part in the second London Architecture Biennale (LAB) last week with 75,000 people attending the event over a ten-day period. Ten thousand people attended the launch event of a sheep drive over the Millennium Bridge by architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers; 15,000 people came to St. Bartholomew Fair; and over 400 architecture practices and related organizations supported the Biennale with more than 200 exhibitions and events taking place. A total of 6,150 tickets were sold to various activities offered by the Biennale, which explored the theme of Change.
As the subject of architecture is increasingly in the public eye, the Biennale offered entertaining and accessible events for architecture novices as well as in-depth analysis and serious debate for experts.
It was received with much support and acclaim from the public, the architecture world and from its high profile sponsors and there are already pledges for support for LAB 08.
“The Biennale was a huge success this year,” says LAB Director Peter Murray, “and the unprecedented response suggests that the project will continue to grow, with even more events and partners for 2008. I’m working on establishing a funding platform for future Biennales and we will be appointing a new director to bring fresh ideas and energy to the table. Architecture has such an impact on all our lives that it should be at the top of the cultural agenda; it is certainly moving that way. The Biennale has been buoyed up by an increasing interest among the general public, but we will need significant funding if we are to grow. We will be starting talks immediately with public and private sector funders to gauge the support for the future.”
Over 200 talks, parties, seminars, film screenings, exhibitions, debates, walks and events brought together internationally respected architects, artists, designers, public figures, celebrities and Londoners during the Biennale to explore the theme of Change. Biennale President, the acclaimed author Peter Ackroyd, created a special exhibition on the Millennium Bridge and gave a talk at Tate Modern.
Other highlights of the ten days included:
*a ‘sermon’ by Renzo Piano which filled Southwark Cathedral to its capacity
*the sheep drive by Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano which launched the Biennale, followed by St. Bartholomew Fair, a day of celebration at Smithfield with food by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage and St. John restaurant, crazy golf, stalls, a knitted life-size house and hundreds of pink balloons
*exhibitions with contributions from international architecture stars as well as members of the public
*sell-out events including The World’s Biggest Pecha Kucha at Sadlers Wells (1,500 seats), the Big Debate featuring Norman Foster, FOA, Lee Polisano and Adam Caruso at the Barbican (1,160 seats)
*the National Architecture Student Festival and exhibitions on railings outside buildings along the entire 5-kilometre Biennale route from King’s Cross to Southwark
*a debate on national BBC radio about 1960s architecture