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ADF Selects: Public Space

ADF Selects: Public Space A cordoned off St Paul's Cathedral during April lockdown.

A cordoned off St Paul's Cathedral during April lockdown.

24 November 2020

Over the last few months and for the foreseeable future our relationship and access to public space has been, and is, in a state of perpetual flux. 

With this in mind, we've put together our latest edition of ADF Selects, a curated selection of things to see, read, listen to and do. From digital talks and screenings, to formative experiences in public housing, physical (outdoor) installations to visit and literal outer space. 

We hope you enjoy exploring and find some inspiration for work, research or leisure in these selects. 


With the dissolution of public spaces for cultural events, the virtual space has provided an open platform for talks, performances and screenings, that can be attended by anyone with access to the internet. We've been making the most of this, and have in our calendars this virtual talk with Nan Goldin on December 16 hosted by MCA Denver. Discussing agency within art, addiction and activism. You can book your place here.

The Quito Pan-American Architecture Biennale will be entirely online this year and there is an incredible line-up of events from November 9-20. A number of the events are free, most of these are on Fridays and in the evenings. I'm particularly looking forward to the events focused on sustainability issues in architecture and the announcement of the winners of the 'Oscar Niemeyer' Award for Latin-American Architecture on the 18th November. Find out more here.

Sevra, Director. 

With ongoing travel restrictions and multiple lockdowns at home and abroad, 2020 has been a tough year for architecture and design festivals everywhere. The inaugural Open House Worldwide festival has cleverly connected their network of Open House host cities globally to present content online over a 48-hour period. From visits to historic sites in Osaka, to live streams of a walk in the park in Athens, public space across multiple cities can be explored and enjoyed from the comfort of your sofa. And what's best: a curated selection of festival content is available beyond the festival dates on their website, and there are plans for future editions as well. Find out more here.

João, Senior Programme Manager.


Poor the debut book from Caleb Femi is a collection of poems and his own photography, each working to construct an intimate insight into Femi's experiences as a seven-year old boy from Nigeria growing up in the now demolished, North Peckham estate. The physical structure of the public housing complex and it's effect on the tenants, plays an important part in his poems, demonstrating the significance of public space in our early lives, and beyond. There is a great interview with him on The Guardian, and you can get yourself a copy here

On the subject of public space and Open House, you can read a great think piece on the possibilities that lockdown presents for the future of city planning by the founder of Open House, Victoria Thornton. You can read it on Architect's Journal here


With the loss of the traditional sources of music discovery; venues, concerts, DIY spaces, festivals and parties, we've been making sure to listen to at least one NTS playlist a week to broaden our musical knowledge and to allow ourselves to travel through music. This week we've been playing Beyond Ijaazat: Women in Pakistan Music. An aural journey into the leading female figures of Pakistani music, you can listen here

Stretching the notion of public space and what this constitutes, I'm enjoying this podcast that the very well-established NASA communications team has launched (excuse the pun) called Curious Universe. I like hearing about places I can't reach, maybe ever but that by its nature is everyone's and no-one's, such as the depths of Earth's underwater valleys and those not-so-empty Black Holes. It gives me pause to consider the spaces we walk through and those we look out on. You can listen here.

Gwen, Programme Manager. 


Since 2007, on the last Tuesday of every month, Nicer Tuesdays has been a design community get-together where a brilliant selection of creative talks are hosted under a single roof. It used to be at the Oval Space in London but now takes place online. From sassy illustrators to humble photographers, this has been one of my favourite lockdown events. What’s more, it has opened up to a whole world that cannot travel to London to watch or participate live, you can tune in here.

Güte, Programme Coordinator. 

With a renewed focus on our connection to the public spaces inhabited by the natural world, I've been re-reading an old favourite, 'Landmarks', a book by Robert MacFarlane that explores the power of language in shaping our sense of place, described as a 'love letter to the British Isles'. On December 3rd I'll be taking the opportunity to watch Robert MacFarlane's online Q&A & screening of 'Upstream', an experimental 30-minute film that follows the course of the River Dee in Scotland, narrated in English and Gaelic with an original score by composer Hauschka. This will be the films first international screening which will take place via the ever-brilliant Emergence Magazine, an online publication focused on Ecology, Culture and Spiritualty. You can sign up here.

Hannah, Programme Manager. 

While the current restrictions make it difficult for us to 'see' culture in museums, galleries and other spaces, getting outside and enjoying public space is important for our mental health and wellbeing. While we are encouraged to stay at home, a walk in the neighbourhood -- or to another neighbourhood -- is very welcome. I'm planning on walking to see Right to Climb, a new public space installation in Camden by Walid Siti and curated by Vicky Richardson of Inter for London Festival of Architecture 2020. Right to Climb is inspired by Siti's memories of the Malwiya, the Minaret of the Great Mosque of Samarra north of Baghdad. This piece takes the striking form of a white twisting tower climbing up (or hanging off) the dark brick structure of this former railway workers' canteen. You can find out more about it here. 

Sevra, Director.



On the web

You can read our previous edition of ADF Selects here