First Works architecture exhibition, AA Gallery

The Retreat, Pill Creek, Cornwall, UK, 1963 by Team
The Retreat, Pill Creek, Cornwall, UK, 1963 by Team 4: Norman Foster & Richard Rogers with Wendy Cheesman & Su Rogers.
(Image credit: press)

Hadid, Piano, Rogers, Foster and many of the fellow-60s and 70s generation of architects may today pride themselves to be among the world’s most celebrated, respected mega-practices; but rewind 4 decades back and all today’s starchitects were just taking their first baby steps into the architectural realm, marking an age of imaginative experimentation, innovation and visionary design.

First Works: Emerging Architectural Experimentation of the 1960s & 1970s, the new show at the Architectural Association’s gallery, sets off to remind us of the beginnings of those visionaries’ architectural careers. Archigram, Archizoom, Coop Himmelb(l)au, Peter Eisenman, Norman Foster + Richard Rogers, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, Steven Holl, Toyo Ito, Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Libeskind, Rafael Moneo, Morphosis, Renzo Piano, Cedric Price, Aldo Rossi, Alvaro Siza, Bernard Tschumi, Robert Venturi and Paul Virilio + Claude Parent are the twenty practices represented through a selection of their first sketches and early-day projects; a beautiful and inspirational mix of drawings and architectural photographs.

Published by the AA and edited by Brett Steele and Francisco Gonzalez de Canales, a thought-provoking publication accompanying the show provides further insight into the then-young practice’s work. It includes, not only their work in 20 separate sections but also the commentaries of an equal number of invited critics, who each introduce one of them and place them in their historical context.

Taking us through the two decades, year-by-year, First Works examines the early days of an influential and confident generation of architects, allowing us to look back to the point when it all began for some of today’s leading international architects.

London Zoo Aviary

London Zoo Aviary, London, UK, 1961-65 by Cedric Price

(Image credit: press)

lue House, Oberwil, Switzerland

Blue House, Oberwil, Switzerland, 1979-80, by Herzog & de Meuron

(Image credit: press)

Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture

Exodus or the Voluntary Prisoners of Architecture, London, UK, 1972 by Rem Koolhaas & Elia Zenghelis with Madelon Vriesendorp & Zoe Zenghelis

(Image credit: press)

Taoiseach’s Residence

Taoiseach’s Residence, Dublin, Ireland, 1979 by Zaha Hadid

(Image credit: press)

Diestre Transformer Factory

Diestre Transformer Factory, Zaragoza, Spain, 1964-67 by Rafael Moneo

(Image credit: press)

Villa Rosa Prototype, Vienna

Villa Rosa Prototype, Vienna, Austria, 1967-68 by Coop Himmelb(l)au: Wolf Prix, Helmut Swiczinsky, Rainer Maria Holzer

(Image credit: press)


AA Gallery & front Members Room
36-37 Bedford Sq
London WC1B 3ES


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).