At Home In Britain: Designing the House of Tomorrow, Royal Institute of British Architects (by Chiara)
I always check out RIBA exhibitions as they usually explore interesting topics. Since I am quite new in London, I found the title of this last exhibition ‘At Home In Britain’ to be the perfect cultural introduction for an architect, so I decided to go and have a look.
The exhibition deals with different British typologies of living and their evolution in time: cottages, terrace houses, flats, etc. The intent is not to confine the housing topic to these schemes, but to critically reflect on a better way of housing and to suggest solutions to Britain's housing crisis. The economic crisis and the structure of today’s society crave new approaches which improve affordability and mixed use schemes. There is also the need to restore existing buildings and adapt them to our contemporary lifestyles.
RIBA asked six contemporary architecture practices to develop a project reflecting the way we live and work in the 21st century. The results are quite interesting and propose solutions for different problems such as density, heterogeneity, a new sociality, etc.
The contemporary house is tailored made for different users. One of the goals is to have indoor-outdoor spaces and new communal spaces. I found the suggestion made by vPPR in their project called the Party House to quite interesting. The project suggests a new use for the shared wall between houses, by focusing on how it would be possible to manipulate it and create new communal spaces (joining rather than dividing spaces). They modernise the idea of terraced houses (originally, the home of factory workers) making it suitable for contemporary work-from-home lifestyle.
The need for new communal spaces arise from increasing prices, but they can also become a new way of helping each other. Mecanoo too focuses on communal spaces within a block of flats, with a project for a contemporary mansion including shared recreational areas for students, families and the elderly.
The need for a freedom in the architectural plan and the possibility to “compose” your own house with “precast” parts is the fundamental idea of Mae’s project about terrace houses. Mæ's interactive display allows visitors to imagine their own custom-built home, suited to their lifestyle and budget. I thought their display waseasily understandable, even for someone who did not study architecture or design, and quite playful as well.
The parallelism between old and new buildings was also interesting, with documents taken from RIBA’s archives (such as the drawings taken from a cottages’ competition); you can really see interesting projects from the past!
Even if these projects won't be realised, it is interesting to see how contemporary houses are perceived by famous architects. This exhibition will widen your horizons and allow you to think and perceive your own (future) house in new creative ways.
And to finish my architectural visit in a nice way, I saw a memento for internal planning, that I promise to uphold!