Royal Academy of Arts’ Summer Exhibition: Making Space for Architectural Design

The RA’s new Summer Exhibition is here, and it is a veritable feast for the eyes.

Showcasing over 1,400 works of art over nine rooms, you won’t last two seconds without something striking, powerful or quirky catching your eye. Due to RA Co-ordinator Ann Christopher’s appreciation and respect for it, Gallery 6 is dedicated to architecture and design. She gave design collective Assemble the room, with the theme ‘Making Space’ serving as their inspiration.

Assemble have smartly interpreted this theme to mean “a space for making”, altering the room so that it looks like an industrial warehouse, with building models, furniture, and tools sat on rows of metal storage shelves. This sets the gallery room apart from the rest of the exhibition, emphasising the functionality of architectural design over the aestheticism of art.

A sketch book from North Hertfordshire District Council’s principal planning and urban design officer Sohanna Srinivasan is a fascinating glimpse into community co-design through sketching. Being a South London local, I found the terracotta, card and acetate model of the inside of Brixton Recreation Centre from Muf Architecture/Art particularly interesting too.

Photos of interiors and artists’ workspaces line the walls, while other models explore utilising lesser used materials such as 3D-printed sand, moss, and woven rush. There is also a lovely peek at how the Structure Workshop keep Dippy standing proud at the Natural History Museum, and an eyepopping bright pink handwoven chair by Ghana’s Nubuke Foundation.

The Summer Exhibition is a worthwhile visit for any Architectural Technologist especially interested in the art of design, or in art itself. Most of the artworks in the exhibition and several of the pieces in Gallery 6 are available to buy, making it the perfect place for a burgeoning art collector or any designer who wants to own a piece of our industry’s recent history.

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