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

A sketch of king's cross
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. Pictured: Crown Hotel, Sydney, Australia (completion due 2019)
(Image credit: press)

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 (opens in new tab) offers a rare journey into the psyche of established London architect Chris Wilkinson, co-founder of Wilkinson Eyre Architects (opens in new tab). '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.

Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth (completed 2013)

'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. Pictured: Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth (completed 2013)

(Image credit: press)

Chris Wilkinson's sketchbooks

An OBE and Stirling Prize recipient in 2000 and 2001 (respectively), and a Royal Academy fellow since 2006, Wilkinson is a passionate believer in the importance of hand drawing. Pictured: Chris Wilkinson's sketchbooks

(Image credit: press)

Maggie's Centre, Oxford (completed 2014)

Maggie's Centre, Oxford (completed 2014)

(Image credit: press)

Crown Hotel

Crown Hotel, Sydney, Australia (completion due 2019)

(Image credit: press)

King's Cross Gasholders (completion due 2016)

King's Cross Gasholders (completion due 2016)

(Image credit: press)

Carphone Warehouse, Merry Hill (concept, 1997)

Carphone Warehouse, Merry Hill (concept, 1997)

(Image credit: press)

Stratford Depo

Stratford Depot, London (completed 1991)

(Image credit: press)

ADDRESS

Tennant Gallery and Richard Sharp Council Room
Royal Academy of Arts
London, W1J 0BD

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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor 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) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).