Bridging art and architecture, the RIBA has just unveiled its latest site-specific commission, housed at its art deco London headquarters – an installation by multi-disciplinary artist Giles Round, entitled ‘We live in the office’.
This is not the RIBA’s first foray into art. The collaboration between Assemble and Simon Terrill last year on the 'Brutalist Playground' exhibition received critical acclaim, so the institute is now back with its second instalment in the series, that aims to open up new ways of engaging the wider public in architectural discourse.
Round was invited to explore the RIBA Collections – the institute’s extensive archive of books, drawings and photographs – to research and experiment with a key, and very familiar, architectural feature: the façade. Drawing inspiration from iconic façades by masters such as Berthold Lubetkin, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, and Jane Drew, as well as different architectural styles and periods, the artist created a graphic series for the Architecture Gallery and RIBA foyer using everything from bright colours and abstracted façade patterns, to chain mail curtains. The result? A dramatic spatial transformation that investigates the aesthetic qualities of façades, as well as the way we ‘collect’ and perceive them, explains the artist.
‘Central to the exhibition, an idea reflected in the title, is the re-appropriation and repurposing of buildings that no longer fulfil the functional requirements for which they were designed’, says Round. ‘Working with the RIBA Collections, I focused on particular façades that I found interesting either graphically or due to their back-story. Throughout the exhibition the graphic quality of the selected façades are appropriated, stylistically altered, into new forms and different media.’
The show was curated by RIBA curatorial programmes coordinator Corinne Mynatt, RIBA project curator Colin Sterling and Lotte Juul Petersen, the artists and programmes curator at Wysing Arts Centre.