RIBA explores architectural adventures in mass media

RIBA explores architectural adventures in mass media

A colourful carpet and virtual reality come together at the RIBA’s latest show in London, entitled ‘Freestyle: Architectural Adventures in Mass Media’ and created by design studio Space Popular, who explore the topic of architectural style

A carpet of colourful graphics and virtual reality headsets are part of a playful attempt to shed light on changing architectural styles. They are some of the artefacts of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ latest exhibition, ‘Freestyle: Architectural Adventures in Mass Media’.

Created by design studio Space Popular, the show examines 500 years of architecture. The duo have mixed and matched elements from RIBA’s collections, such as old books and drawings, with their own specially-made exhibits. These include the carpet, which doubles as a timeline, and an architectural model.

Big, dark grey and standing in the centre of the space, the model is a collection of slightly abstracted UK buildings. The exhibition’s hypothesis is that mass media and changes in architectural style are inextricably linked, according to RIBA exhibitions curator Shumi Bose.

This is a topic close to Space Popular’s heart. All five of the exhibitions they have designed ‘have explored links between media and architecture,’ says cofounder Lara Lesmes.

The wall exhibits depicting buildings by practitioners including Owen Jones, Augustus Pugin and John Nash are accompanied by objective text. Meanwhile, the VR headsets act as an ‘explanatory and friendly guide, a more personal narrator,’ says Bose. Because Freestyle is making a conscious effort to appeal to teenage visitors.

To this end, Lesmes points out the back wall, whose graphic is designed as a ‘didactic touchstone’ for a lay audience. Its cloud-like shapes ‘show the coexistence of a number of architectural styles,’ she adds.

Students from London Design and Engineering University Technical College were invited to be part of the exhibition’s gestation, creating their own VR worlds, which are on show alongside professionals’ work. ‘Style needs your attention, because it does not exist unless you see it,’ Lesmes and cofounder Fredrick Hellberg write in their letter, which accompanies the exhibition. §

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