RIBA presents ‘Constructing Communities’ as part of LFA

Constructing Communities’ Open Call as part of the London Festival of Architecture

This summer the RIBA presents works from our ‘Constructing Communities’ Open Call as part of the London Festival of Architecture, at Peckham Levels and at 66 Portland Place. At our headquarters, we are presenting three ambitious 1:1 installations.

The RIBA’s Constructing Communities open call set out to find works by large to small practices and students, responding to ideas of how architecture can influence or create communities. The works selected from the open call are exhibited in two sites across London over the summer, in Peckham and at our headquarters at 66 Portland Place.  Members of our Small Practice Group, Rachael Davidson (HÛT Architecture) and Chris Bryant (alma-nac), developed the exhibition design across both sites.

Three of the open call submissions have been developed and built as one-to-one installations throughout the RIBA building, with each team awarded £5,000 to realise their structures on a true scale. We are delighted to show projects that have found new ways for architecture to ‘construct communities’ through information exchange, empathy, and recycling. The three selected teams are made up of a group from Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Erect Architecture, and MARGIN, a collective of former students from Liverpool.

The exhibition at the RIBA launched with our Late Tuesday on 21 June with a series of talks, debates, forums, and was virtual reality presented by our sponsors, Cityscape Digital. The exhibition will be open each day from 10am to 5pm, until 4 August.

The exhibition of sixteen longlisted projects takes place at Peckham Levels, a creative hub hosting a series of cultural events over the summer.  For further details of the exhibition at Peckham Levels, please click here.

In partnership with London Festival of Architecture.

American Friends are invited to visit our headquarters and engage with these works.

RIBA is displaying three pavilions for its Constructing Communities exhibition, including Pea Soup House by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studio. The concept is a servery to raise awareness of air quality in London by serving a soup relating to each air quality rating. The name references the industrial revolution when London’s air was described “as thick as pea soup” and Londoners were referred to as Pea Soupers. “With air quality increasingly deteriorating in cities, we believe that architecture has a significant role in protecting the health of urban communities and improving quality of life for those at home in Britain,” said project architect Charlotte Knight. Photo credit: Dezeen

Captivating Copenhagen – Trip review

This May saw Copenhagen as the location for the first ever international trip for RIBA Patrons and American Friends of the British Architectural Library.

Following a warm welcome at the British Ambassador’s newly renovated residency, the group saw and experienced the city’s architectural (and culinary!) highlights.  The group had personal tours of contemporary award-winning buildings, with their architects, such as Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s Black Diamond extension of the Royal Danish Library; Henning Larsen’s beautiful intervention in the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek; BIG’s ski slope atop a waste to energy plant and later a wonderful dinner in the Maritime Museum, Helsingor; and 3xN’s Bella Sky and Aquarium visit – not least the breath-taking roof-top tour. They also experienced the forerunners of great Danish design visiting Arne Jacobsens’s Bellevue and more with his grandson Tobias; as well as Finn Juhl’s house neighbouring the Zaha Hadid extension at Ordrupgaarde and later Soren Varming’s stunning mid-century jewel.

A huge thanks to all our Danish hosts for making the trip so special.

Plans are afoot for the next international trip.  Please get in touch if you are interested in hearing more.

Copengahen Trip Pictures
Outtakes from RIBA visit to Copenhagen May 2016

RIBA National Awards Party on 13 July 2016

RIBA with Arper UK is delighted to invite all American Friends to a celebratory event for all 2016 RIBA National Award winners on Wednesday 13 July at the Serpentine Galleries Pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). BIG’s vision is an ‘unzipped wall’ that is transformed from straight line to three-dimensional space, creating a dramatic structure that by day houses a café and free family activities and by night becomes a space for the Serpentine’s acclaimed Park Nights programme of performative works by artists, writers and musicians.

This year, and in tandem with the 16th Pavilion in 2016, the Serpentine Galleries has expanded its internationally acclaimed programme of exhibiting architecture in a built form by commissioning four architects to each design a 25sqm Summer House. The four Summer Houses are inspired by the nearby Queen Caroline’s Temple, a classical style summer house, built in 1734 and a stone’s throw from the Serpentine Gallery. In line with the criteria for the selection of the Pavilion architect, each architect chosen by the Serpentine has yet to build a permanent building in England.

The Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), is an ‘unzipped wall’ that is transformed from straight line to three-dimensional space, creating a dramatic structure that by day houses a café and free family activities and by night becomes a space for the Serpentine’s acclaimed Park Nights programme of performative works by artists, writers and musicians. The four Summer Houses include Kunlé Adeyemi’s Summer House which is an inverse replica of Queen Caroline’s Temple – a tribute to its robust form, space and material, recomposed into a new sculptural object. Barkow Leibinger were inspired by another, now extinct, 18th Century pavilion also designed by William Kent, which rotated and offered 360 degree views of the Park. Yona Friedman’s Summer House takes the form of a modular structure that can be assembled and disassembled in different formations and builds upon the architect’s pioneering project La Ville Spatiale (Spatial City) begun in the late 1950s. Asif Khan’s design is inspired by the fact that Queen Caroline’s Temple was positioned in a way that would allow it to catch the sunlight from The Serpentine lake.

There will be a Champagne Taittinger reception and speeches from RIBA President, Jane Duncan, RIBA Awards Group Chair, Philip Gumuchdjian and BIG Senior Project Manager, Ziad Shehab.

If you are able to attend, please do RSVP to Patrons@RIBA.org.

RIBA National Award Winners Party invitation_2016_FINAL

Patrons Summer Party on 22 June 2016

We would like to invite all American Friends to join us on Wednesday 22nd June for the Patrons Summer Party 2016. This year, we are congregating at the National Theatre for a tour of the recent renovations with Stirling-prize winning architects Haworth Tompkins and a talk on the notable holding of the Lasdun Archive in the RIBA Collections given by distinguished Denys Lasdun specialist, Dr Barnabas Calder. Sir John Tusa will be hosting this event which promises to be wonderful evening of theatre and architecture in the seminal, post-war modernist building that is the National Theatre.

For more on Denys Lasdun, please click here for this inspirational architect’s fact sheet.

Front of RIBA Patrons Summer Party Invitation 2016

Return from The Grand(er) Tour

We have just returned from a marvellous trip accompanying Abraham Thomas’s lecture tour, The Grand(er) Tour: Architectural Imagination Beyond the Classical World, with the Royal Oak Foundation. It was wonderful to meet old friends and new in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Boston and Chicago. Each city was very welcoming and we were spoiled with the weather – and look forward to coming back soon!

A huge thanks to the ladies of the Royal Oak Foundation for organizing an incredible tour and to Abraham for his fascinating lectures on the influence on architecture from places outside the Greco-Roman sites and sights of the traditional Grand Tour. For centuries, architects have used travels to fuel their cultural and artistic education but starting in the 19th century architects often travelled further afield, venturing to regions such as Southern Spain, the Middle East, Japan, China and India, seeking inspirational sources from Ancient Egypt or the Islamic world. Abraham spoke fluently of architecture by the likes of Owen Jones, Edwin Lutyens, Charles Voysey, William Burges and Louis Khan and the influence that their Grand(er) Tours had on their oeuvre.

Please see below for a few highlights from this wonderful trip…

On Tour with The Grand(er) Tour - Architectural Imagination Beyond the Classical World - Final

Inaugural International Trip: Destination Copenhagen! 18 to 21 May 2016

Nimb Facade from Tivoli gardens
Nimb Facade in the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark

Save the dates for 18 to 21 May 2016 as we have an architectural tour exclusively arranged for Patrons of Architecture and American Patrons of the British Architectural Library to Copenhagen.

Although subject to change, the schedule is as follows:

We check into Hotel Nimb, an exquisite Moorish folly in the Tivoli pleasure gardens, now the city’s most luxurious boutique hotel. Our first day introduces us to the city with a canal tour of the historic sites. That evening, we are officially welcomed by the British Ambassador at a party in our honour, introducing us to the movers and shakers of the Danish design scene. We head for dinner at one of the city’s celebrated restaurants then back to Nimb for our first night’s sleep.

On our second day, we visit two contemporary additions to historic cultural buildings with their architects: Henning Larsen’s ‘building within a building’ at the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and Schmidt Hammer Lassen’s Black Diamond extension to the Royal Library. We will be hosted for lunch by Danish design firm Louis Poulsen before a hard-hat tour of Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG)’s latest Copenhagen landmark: a waste-to-energy plant complete with public ski slope. That evening, we are free to explore New Nordic Cuisine or head to Henning Larsen’s waterside Opera House for an evening performance. We sleep at Nimb.

We begin day three by celebrating Arne Jacobsen, arguably the most famous name in Danish design. In the company of Tobias Jacobsen, the architect’s grandson, we visit the SAS Hotel and National Bank before heading up the coast to Bellevue, Jacobsen’s beach resort a few miles north of the city. We stop at Kokkedal Castle, a country retreat of 1746, now a luxury hotel. We spend the afternoon here for lunch and to enjoy the grounds or relax in the spa. The evening begins with a tour of the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, where the landscaped galleries overlook the narrow water to Sweden. After a sunset drink here, we travel to Helsingor for dinner at BIG’s Maritime Museum. This bold design is embedded in a former dry dock in the shadow of Hamlet’s castle. We will meet those who delivered a design and engineering miracle, helping regenerate an abandoned industrial site. We sleep nearby at Kokkedal.

Our final day starts with another mid-century classic: the Varming House. Jørgen Varming’s grandson Søren will show us domestic innovations that exemplify the spirit behind Steensen Varming’s mechanical engineering, not least the Sydney Opera House. Back in Copenhagen, we explore the future of Danish architecture: first at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, where the Head of Architecture will introduce us to the students as they prepare their final projects for presentation; then we visit Ørestad, a developing city district. From the Sky Bar on the 23rd floor of 3XN’s Bella Sky Hotel, we meet those shaping the new town concept and view the distinctive urban plan and architecture. From here it is a short drive to the airport or transfer back to the city for those who wish to extend their trip.

For more information and pricing, please get in touch with us on patrons@riba.org.

This is a drawing by Laurids de Thurah (1706-1759) from Den Danske Vitruvius (Copenhagen, 1749), vol. 2, pl. 3 of Sorgenfri Palace in Lyngby, Denmark which was originally built in 1706 to designs by a German architect, Francois Dieussart. After this country seat became a royal palace in 1730 Thurah was engaged to build a new wing for the gentlemen of the Court and later to demolish the main building and build a new palace (1757). The building was extended and modernised in 1794. © RIBA Collections

The Flint House at Waddesdon Manor Visit on 21 April 2016

We would like to invite all American Friends to join us for a Patrons tour of The Flint House at Waddesdon Manor on Thursday 21st April in Buckinghamshire.

Lord Rothschild asked practice Skene Catling de la Peña to design a home on his estate at Waddesdon Manor. Announced by Channel 4 as the winner of the RIBA House of the Year 2015, the Flint House is a reaction to the fields, churned up into great clods and scattered with the debris of flint. As two adjacent examples of country-house living, the Flint House makes an intriguing contrast to the Manor which we will also see on our visit.

Please get in touch for more information and to register.

The Flint House at Waddesdon Maner, Rothschild Estate, RIBA House of the Year Award winner 2015
The Flint House at Waddesdon Manor, Rothschild Estate, RIBA House of the Year Award winner 2015


Spring 2016 US Lecture Tour Dates Published

We are very pleased to announce the dates and locations for the US lecture tour, The Grand(er) Tour: Architectural Imagination Beyond the Classical World, which Abraham Thomas will be giving on behalf of RIBA for the Royal Oak Foundation this April.

Please see below for the dates and locations:

New York: Monday 11 April
Philadelphia: Tuesday 12 April
Washington DC: Thursday 14 April
Boston: Tuesday 19 April
Chicago: Wednesday 20 April

Don’t forget to use our co-sponsor code 16SRIBA for discounted tickets at $30 each.

RIBA3877 RIBA Collections Design for the elevation of a wall with Zenana in the Arab Hall, Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road London
Colour drawing design for the elevation of a wall with Zenana in the Arab Hall, Leighton House, 12 Holland Park Road, London from 1891 by George Aitchison, (1825-1910) © RIBA Collections

Abraham Thomas Biography:

Abraham Thomas is an architectural historian, independent curator and writer based in Washington DC.

He worked for 8 years as Curator of Designs at the Victoria and Albert Museum where he developed a detailed and intimate knowledge of the Royal Institute of British Architects Collections, some of which are housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

From 2013 to 2015, Mr. Thomas served as Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum. He has published and lectured on a wide variety of architecture and design topics, with a focus on the 19th century to the present day.

At the V&A he curated a number of exhibitions, including Heatherwick Studio: Designing the Extraordinary; 1:1 – Architects Build Small Spaces; and the V&A’s international touring exhibition Owen Jones: Islamic Design, Discovery & Vision.

He is currently developing an exhibition on the 20th-century High-Tech style movement in architecture and design, which he is curating for the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in 2018.

AT V&A Garden
Abraham Thomas

The Grand(er) Tour: Architectural Imagination Beyond the Classical World:

For centuries, architects have used their travels to fuel their cultural and artistic education.

From the late 17th to early 19th century, the Grand Tour of Greek and Roman sites of antiquity was de rigeur for any architect, providing a finishing school for young men wishing to round off their academic training.

However, the 19th century witnessed travels further afield, with architects and venturing to regions such as Southern Spain, the Middle East and India, seeking inspirational sources from Ancient Egypt or the Islamic world.

J.D. Crace’s Egyptian drawings, James Fergusson’s studies of Indian architecture, and Christopher Dresser’s designs from Japan among others transformed European and English collecting habits and influenced design taste. They also created new fields of architectural discourse.

Today, the ambition and hunger for architectural travel has continued to evolve. Rather than visiting Athens and Rome to discover the classical world, architects now travel to places such as Lagos and Dhaka to understand contemporary urban planning. These wider global influences can be seen in the work of architects such as Jean Nouvel and David Adjaye.

Using drawings and photographs from the Royal Institute of British Architects’ collection, Abraham Thomas will illustrate various journeys undertaken by designers during the past 300 years, demonstrating how these adventures expanded and enriched the creative and intellectual imagination—resulting in buildings that have changed the architectural landscape of London, Paris, New York and the rest of the world.

RIBA3951 Design for the Indian Bridge at Sezincote, Moreton-in-Marsh RIBA Collections
A colour drawing of a design for the Indian Bridge at Sezincote, Moreton-in-Marsh from 1806 by Thomas Daniell (1749-1840) © RIBA Collections

RIBA Exhibition of Eric de Maré Photography at MIT 5 February – 8 April 2016

RIBA38604 Architectural Press Archive  RIBA CollectionsEric de Maré’s photographs embraced a wide range of subjects from buildings of the 19th century and earlier to the work of contemporary practitioners, and gained wide currency through publication in both the professional general and press. Trained as an architect in the 1930s, he was able to interpret the architectural landscapes lucidly through words as well as images writing and illustrating dozens of articles  and over twenty books. Many of de Maré ‘s best known photographs were featured in an Architectural Review series entitled The Exploring Eye. The title is wholly appropriate for his humanistic, crusading images that made a telling contribution to the post-war reassessment of Modernism, and greatly broadened the perception of where “architecture” was to be found – especially in his recurring fascination with vernacular buildings in industrial and maritime landscapes. His work also gave a new respectability to architectural photography by extending its influence beyond the narrow confines of professional discourse. Through work of great truth and beauty, he remains one of Britain’s most important and influential architectural photographers.

The Exploring Eye, The Photography of Eric de Maré (1910 – 2002) is a selection of de Maré’s work from the Robert Elwall Photographs Collection at The Royal Institute of British Architects. The exhibition will be on view at the Wolk Gallery at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s School of Architecture + Planning from Friday 5th February to Friday 8th April 2016.

RIBA’s own Valeria Carullo (Curator of Photographs, RIBA Collections) will be giving a lecture de Maré in Perspective on Friday 5th February.

If you are an American Friend and would like to attend this lecture, please get in touch with Rebecca.Morgan@riba.org to reserve a place.

For the exhibition brochure please click here.

To see more photography by Eric de Maré in the RIBA Collections please click here.

RIBA Exhibition of Eric de Maré at MIT 5 February – 8 April 2016

Wolk Gallery

School of Architecture + Planning

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

77 Massachusetts Avenue, Room 7-338

Cambridge, MA 02139

Gallery Hours

Monday – Friday: 9am – 5pm


RIBA17258 Architectural Press Archive  RIBA Collections
Eric de Maré’s photograph of ‘Skyscraper’ fishermen’s sheds, the Stade, Hastings from 1956 © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

Fitzroy Park House and Highgate Cemetery Visit on 25 February 2016

We would like to invite all American Friends to join us for a Patrons tour of Fitzroy Park House and Highgate Cemetery on Thursday 25th February in London. Sloping down to Hampstead Heath, Fitzroy Park House (Stanton Williams RIBA London Award 2015) is an enticing mix of interlocking volumes and external terraces. The nearby West Cemetery in Highgate is one of the most impressive Victorian burial grounds. Director Ian Dungvall will lead a tour. We will stop for a traditional English pub lunch in Highgate in between the visits.


Please get in touch for more information and to register.

Fitzroy Park House by Stanton Williams, RIBA London Award winner 2015