The Wallpaper* Architects' Directory turns 20

The Wallpaper* Architects' Directory has been championing young and emerging talent since the turn of the century. To mark the occasion, throughout the month of July, we will be looking back at some of our over-500 alumni, to catch up about life and work since their participation and exclusively launch their latest completions.

2020 Wallpaper Architect Directory sign in black and white
(Image credit: press)

The Wallpaper* Architects' Directory has turned 20. Conceived in 2000 as our index of emerging architectural talent, this annual listing of promising practices, has, over the years, spanned styles and continents; while always championing the best and most exciting young studios and showcasing inspiring residential work. After all, houses are often the playground where newly set up architecture firms cut their teeth. 

We've always loved to show off our Directory – what better way to support young start-ups than shouting about their work and flair? Our editors' expert eye recruited early participants that later became leading figures in contemporary architecture, such as Vincent van Duysen, Brian McKay-Lyons, Deborah Berke, Claesson Koivisto Rune, and 2020 Pritzker Prize winners Grafton Architects – but what started as a fairly straightforward, yet immaculately curated listing, soon evolved.

Within a few years, the concept developed further. Many editions included a group portrait photoshoot. Over the years, we have featured nearly 150 of our over-500 participants at iconic locations around the globe. There's been a PPE-clad one at the then-under construction Heathrow Terminal 5 by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners in 2007; a sneak peek at Tadao Ando's Shibuya Station in Tokyo in 2008; an iconic staircase shot at the newly completed (at the time) Neues Gallery by David Chipperfield in Berlin in 2009; a trip to the top of London just before the Shard by Renzo Piano opened as the capital's highest point; and a Parisian get-together at OMA's ‘curatorial machine' of Lafayette Anticipations. 

We have also concentrated our efforts on putting together exhibitions with specially commissioned designs or artwork that celebrated our participants' skills. Collaborators have included artists such as Peter Crawley and Richard Kolker, the DMC London at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, lighting specialists Speirs + Major and the Architecture Foundation, helping us to take part with our Directory in key international design events, such as the London Festival of Architecture and the International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam. 

One thing has been constant; since its inception, the Architects Directory has been cheering new arrivals on the global scene, introducing some of the world’s best practices. So while feasting our eyes on this year’s entries – available to view and download for free in our Summer 2020 Issue, and here on over the coming weeks – we also explore what some of our esteemed Architects Directory alumni have been up to since we first met them in a new, month-long special series of updates and exclusives. Join us throughout the month of July as we celebrate 20 years of architectural creativity. 


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).