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London Festival of Architecture 2016


Cartoons and participation in architecture: An exhibition with a sense of humour.

spirit of architecture

The city of London opens today its annual Festival of Architecture with the theme ‘Community’.  From the 1st until the 30th of June, London residents and visitors alike will be able to indulge their architectural senses with a full programme of activities, events, talks, exhibitions and installations about architecture.

This year’s ‘Community’ theme seeks to explore the future of our city and the ways in which we can bring positive changes to London city life.  Festival participants are asked to comment, reinterpret and redesign the city of London to encourage supporting communities and participation to grow.  Over the past four years, we at the RIBA Bookshop have developed a creative participation programme by opening our doors to architects and artists who want to paint their designs on our walls, or hang their visions of architecture from our ceiling. To celebrate this year’s LFA, we have invited illustrator Ana Sandoval to design and paint a homage to London architecture on our temporary wall exhibition.

Throughout the month of June the Bookshop at Portland Place will host an exhibition of the work of British satirist and cartoonist Osbert Lancaster, together with a temporary mural by contemporary illustrator Ana Sandoval, who’s brought her light hearted sense of humour to depict some of the best known icons of London’s architecture and their starchitects in a more playful manner than we are accustomed to.

The bookshop is open to proposals from architects and artists who want to exhibit their work throughout the year in the form of drawings, photographs or bespoke designs for our temporary back wall.  If you have an idea you’d like to discuss for our winter exhibition, feel free to approach one of our booksellers to express your interest.

The exhibition is free to visit during bookshop opening hours. We hope to see you soon to celebrate the London Festival of Architecture.




Osbert Lancaster: An Appreciation

Space Station Architecture Exhibition



The Station’s robotic arm in action over South Africa


The International Space Station  (ISS) is the most complex international scientific and engineering project in history, and the largest structure humans have ever put in space.  the ISS flies at 248 miles (400 km) above Earth and circles the globe every 90 minutes.  This flying laboratory travels the distance it takes to fly to the moon and back every day,  it is brighter than the planet Venus, and can be seen from the Earth with the naked eye as a bright light moving across the night sky.

The story of the ISS is the subject of the recent Circa Press publication written by Architect David Nixon, co-founder of Future Systems with Jan Kaplicky, with whom he collaborated for ten years.  After moving to California in the 1980s, David directed a research study for NASA on the design of astronaut quarters through his firm, Altus Associates.  International Space Station: Architecture Beyond Earth is the result of seven years of research on space architecture, and the collaboration between author David Nixon and editor of the book David Jenkins, who had the vision to embark on this fascinating publishing project.  To give you a glimpse of the beautiful imagery inside the book, the RIBA bookshop is currently showing an exhibition of some of the photographs and detail drawings included in this publication.

If you’d like to see the exhibition, pop into the RIBA bookshop from Monday to Friday from 9:30am until 5:30pm or on Saturdays from 10am until 5pm.  Alternatively, if you can’t make it to our bookshop in Portland Place, below is a preview of the exhibition photographed by Maria Babikova.

The book is available for purchase from our website and in our bookshop at 66 Portland Place.

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Virginia Verran’s Wall Drawing : ‘RIBA (space)’


Detail of Virginia Verran’s “RIBA Space Wall Drawing”

Painter Virginia Verran accepted our invitation to create a piece for the RIBA Bookshop space to accompany our latest drawings exhibition, which is now open to the public.

If you haven’t seen it yet, selected works from the book Anchor are being exhibited inside the bookshop until the 15th of March.

Anchor is a collection of drawn interpretations of the idea of outline by 14 different fine artists selected by the editor of the book Joe Graham. Amongst the contributions we find the work of Virginia Verran.

virginia 111

Virginia Verran at work in the RIBA Space

The artist will be presenting her work at the RIBA Bookshop on Tuesday 9th of February from 6:30 until 8:30pm.  Editor of Anchor Joe Graham will also present his new  book.  The launch will feature an in conversation session about the Anchor project with Joe Graham, Chantal Faust, Tom Morton and Virginia Verran.

As usual this is an open event and all are welcome to attend.  We hope to see you tonight!



What is an Outline?…


What is an Outline III

The RIBA Bookshop proudly presents ANCHOR

Book Launch: Tuesday 9th February, from 6:30 until 8:30pm, inside the RIBA Bookshop, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD.  Tickets, Free

Exhibition: 2nd February until 1st March, inside the RIBA Bookshop.  Tickets, Free.

Fourteen artists, architects, writers and thinkers are summoned by Joe Graham to collaborate in a drawing research project. In an attempt to unravel the shape-shifting mystery that lies behind the humble drawn line, each contributor has been assigned the task of interpreting that which defies detailed definition.  What is Outline?  A summary, a sketch. A line around things, concealing what lies beyond the line’s plane, revealing what it conceals.  A concept with endless possible forms, until someone gives it a shape that changes with every new answer. Or perhaps a melody in time, like the one suggested in Claude Heath’s multidimensional musical scores.

Joe Graham has edited a collection of drawn and written interpretations of outline inside ANCHOR, a new book that will launch in the RIBA Bookshop on Tuesday 9th of February from 6:30pm.  The launch will feature an in conversation session about the project with Joe Graham, Chantal Faust and Tom Morton.

To accompany the publication of Anchor, the RIBA Bookshop has organised an exhibition of drawings featured inside the book.  The Exhibition opens on Monday 2nd of February, and it’s free to attend during bookshop opening hours.

If you’d like to have a sneak preview of the work of Anchor’s featured artists, you can follow the links to their pages on this list:  Andrew Hewish, Gemma Anderson, Claude Heath, Gordon Shrigley, Deborah Harty, Kelly Chorpening, Paul McDevitt, Phil Sawdon, Steven Dickie, Thomas Falstad, Virginia Verran, Tom Morton, Chantal Faust and Joe Graham.

As usual, thank you for reading our blog and we hope you enjoy our latest exhibition.

Christmas Shopping Night

Christmas 1

Join us for a special Christmas opening at the RIBA Bookshop on Tuesday 8th of December from 6:00pm until 8:30pm, when we’ll be serving warming treats of mince pies and mulled wine to all our customers.  If you need to stop by for those architectural books included on your Christmas list, we are also offering a 10% discount on all purchases during the evening.

You can also take a break from the shops, and visit the exhibition on Palladio’s drawings which is currently showing in the ground floor gallery, or have a look around the RIBA library, which will remain open until 8:00pm.

As always, we hope you can make it, and look forward to your visit.

In Search of Hephaestus


Inside the Timothy Richards Workshop in Bath


This Christmas we’ve teamed up with the Timothy Richards architectural model workshop.  Based in Bath, Timothy and his team have spent over 25 years researching and developing their own techniques in plaster. They are inspired by the famous Parisian model makers of the 1800’s  Jean Pierre and Francoise Fouquet, who kept the secrets of their own plasterwork closely guarded.  The Fouquet’s work can be seen today amongst the V&A and Sir John Soane Museums’ collections.


The Timothy Richards Workshop in Bath

Timothy Richards is one of the only  workshops still in existence that follows the handmade process from beginning to end.  The initial stage, a forensic analysis and deconstruction of the building helps the model makers tap into the mind of the builder. Once they’ve discovered how a building has been assembled, a scale model is reconstructed by hand using styrene sheet and various other materials from which the mould and subsequent plaster cast is then made. From the beginning steps through to the final stages of sanding, filling, painting and addition of metal elements, the hand and mind of the modeller is always present.


Back in 2008 American sociologist and writer Richard Sennett published the first volume of a trilogy examining today’s material culture; intended to explore how and where we seek fulfilment in our society, and whether we are succeeding in finding it.  The Craftsman,  went on to become one of the most widely read social philosophy books amongst our customers, and nearly eight years later, it’s appeal hasn’t shown any signs of decrease.  The book explores the evolution of man’s material consciousness through the history of craftsmanship, and how we respond to our need of expressing ourselves through making, doing and performing.  Its principal premise, that our commitment to working, years or decades, towards mastering a skill, is a necessary ingredient for the achievement of physical, mental and societal well-being.  Sennett’s concern is that the spirit of craftsmanship “the basic human impulse , the desire to do something well for its own sake” is at risk of being stifled by social and economic conditions which often stand in the way of the craftsman’s discipline and commitment.  He states that “schools may fail to provide tools to do good work, and workplaces may not truly value the aspiration for quality”.

Despite the unstoppable rise of our culture of speed, the search for quality and mastery of skill remains alive in many hidden corners. Sometimes it even comes knocking on our door.  So much so, that over the years, we’ve had the good fortune of being able to work with many fine craftsmen and craftswomen who have chosen our bookshop to exhibit their work.  Illustrators like Thibaud Herem and Shiela Samsuri, photographers like Morley von Stenberg, paper artists like Elod Beregszaszi, and architects such as Jan kaplicky have all filled our bookshop with their extraordinary work.

If you’d like to see the Timothy Richards architectural models, we have an extensive selection currently on display and for sale in the bookshop.  We thought that these would make very special gifts for the holiday season, whether mid-century modern, or Georgian townhouse.  All the models can be viewed online by following this link.  Timothy Richards also takes on bespoke commission work in the UK and internationally, further information on this aspect of the workshop can be seen here .

DETAILS the good and the bad…


DetailsDetails is the new publication by the Architecture With  research team, a group of four architects who, apart from making interesting buildings, love thinking about architectural details. What makes them good or bad, what they say about a building, an architect, a place, or a movement in history.  If a building can manifest how we think, how does a detail speak about the whole? Can you have good details and a bad building? Or a good building made out of bad details? These and other questions are explored in this new publication made out of a series of beautifully illustrated collectible pamphlets.

Arnaud Desjardin, founder of The Everyday Press, is the publisher behind this project. Arnaud has a background as a book seller of rare and out of print art books.  His decision to start a publishing company was born out of a desire to publish the kind of art books that museums, galleries and other commercial publishers are not producing today.  This is how Everyday Press began making collaborative artists books that sets them apart from the norm.  Each publication follows a different design process, depending on the subject and the artists involved in the project.

This particular series of DETAIL pamphlets have been made using risograph printing, a technique that lies halfway between screen printing and photocopying, and although not widely used after falling out of fashion decades ago, it gives the prints a handcrafted quality that sets them clearly apart from the mass produced publication.

Both teams will be coming to the RIBA Bookshop to talk about the details of the details, and the details of the making of this series.  If you’d like to book a space for this talk, here is what you need to know:

Tuesday 3rd November, 6:30-8:30 pm

RIBA Bookshop, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD

Tickets:  To book a FREE ticket, please RSVP by following this link

An Evening with Kaplický and his Drawings

Kaplicky Evening

Last week Architect Eva Jiřičná and writer Deyan Sudjic were our guest speakers in the latest Riba Bookshop Tuesday late evening talk.  The evening served to commemorate the recent publication of Jan Kaplický Drawings and its accompanying exhibition, a collection of prints of the architect’s drawings featured in the book that have been on show inside the bookshop since the beginning of September.   This latest talk was an intimate and insightful conversation filled with tales and anecdotes about the life and work of the influential architect, who came to be so well known for his futuristic visions and daring designs.

The publication of the book and the exhibition act as a timely contrast with the current developments in computer drawing and its widespread use across the world of architectural design.  One of the most unexpected discoveries amongst those who have visited our exhibition, and were not familiar with Jan Kaplický’s work, was finding out that these highly technical,  space age drawings had all been in fact drawn by hand and not by a computer, as it is customary for this kind of drawing today.  It is a beautiful contradiction that an architect who designed such technologically advanced buildings, should give so much importance to the act of drawing and mark making.  Or perhaps he always understood that the ability to do so is one of the things that separate humans from computers.  Years later, when the new Apple gadget tool “Pencil” is presented to the world as the latest technological must have toy, Circa Press pays tribute to Jan Kaplický’s mastery of the pen on paper and, once again, opens up the unfinished debate about computers vs the human hand.

We have one copy of the book signed by Eva Jiřičná and it’s two contributors, Ivan Margolius and Richard Rogers, in the Bookshop which you can enquire about purchasing by contacting us directly

To continue on the book’s theme, next week we’ll publish a list of the top five drawing books compiled by the booksellers at the RIBA Bookshop.  Whether you are amongst those who carry pen and paper everywhere you go, or have been meaning to dust off that neglected sketchbook for some time, tune in for some interesting recommendations.


Regeneration after the talkOn Tuesday, artist Jessie Brennan came to the RIBA Bookshop to present her book Regeneration! Conversations, Drawings, Archives & Photographs from Robin Hood Gardens.  The book was very well received by an engaging crowd that took part in a conversation between Jessie and writer Richard Martin.  Amongst our guests we had architects, artists, activists and former residents of the Robin Hood Gardens housing estate who discussed their experiences and ideas about the significance behind the life, evolution and demise of this iconic symbol of social housing in Britain.

This is an important book that closes the last chapter in the history of this London brutalist symbol at the forefront of a heated debate since it was first threatened with demolition.  But it is also the beginning of the next chapter in the history of London, a city in the midst of rapid transformation through the process of urban regeneration, which no one yet really knows how to envisage.  How will communities transform? How will areas change? Who’s moving out?  Who will move in? and what will London life feel like at the end of this process?  As London continues to regenerate, more people are joining the debate about the future of our city and the people who live in it.  This book seeks to record the unheard voices of some of those at the centre of this change, the residents of Robin Hood Gardens.

The book includes archival photographs and drawings of the estate, as well as conversation pieces with some of the residents of Robin Hood Gardens, essays by Owen Hatherley and Richard Martin, and a set of pull out prints of the artist’s work A Fall of Ordinariness and Light.  The drawings are exquisite representations of the estate made with graphite on paper and were commissioned by the Foundling Museum.  You can take a look at them by following this link. If you would like to buy prints of the work, you can enquire with one of our booksellers.  To buy a copy of the book please come into the shop at 66 Portland Place or visit our website.

Thank you Jessie, Richard and everyone that came to the book launch for helping us make the Bookshop a place that inspires and generates ideas and interesting dialogues.