Drawing board: a new RA show offers a peek into Chris Wilkinson’s sketchbook

Drawing board: a new RA show offers a peek into Chris Wilkinson’s sketchbook

For a unique insight into an architect’s mind, peek into their sketchbook. Ever since the first architect scribbled the outline of a building on the first napkin, architects’ sketchpads have been more than just a blank page to draw; they are places to lay down thoughts and develop projects, keepers of trade secrets, visual notebooks and compilations of inspiration.

A new exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts offers a rare journey into the psyche of established London architect Chris Wilkinson, co-founder of Wilkinson Eyre Architects. ’Thinking through drawing: Chris Wilkinson RA’ marks the architect’s 30 years of work and architectural drawing, and promises to open a window into his creative process and design approach, through the display of a careful pick of his hand drawings, watercolours and architectural objects.

A passionate believer in the importance of hand drawing, Wilkinson – an OBE and Stirling Prize recipient in 2000 and 2001 (respectively), and a Royal Academy fellow since 2006 – is behind a number of acclaimed works, such as the Mary Rose Museum in Portsmouth and the Maggie’s Centre in Oxford. Many more highly anticipated works are currently in the pipeline for the firm, such as the King’s Cross Gasholders canal side apartments, and many of them will be represented through drawings in this show.

Wilkinson’s design work and expert architectural draughtsmanship will be celebrated by this exhibition, which opens today. The show is the perfect companion to the book Thoughts on paper: the sketchbooks of Chris Wilkinson RA, a recent publication by the Royal Academy of Arts, which collates a selection of the architect’s intricate drawings.

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