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Venice Takeaway at RIBA

Venice Takeaway at RIBA

21 February 2013
by Kendall Martin-Robbins

Could the UK learn from Brazil’s successful identikit school-building programme?  Could Belfast be redeveloped by following a Berlin model?  For the exhibition Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture ten architectural teams researched ambitious ideas from around the world that could have a real impact if applied to the UK.  As skilled researchers and solution-finders by trade this exhibition shows how the UK’s schools, planning and housing issues can be tackled imaginatively, through the eyes of architects.


First shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale, the exhibition has grown as the ideas have been developed by the exhibitors, often in collaboration with other architects and students.


On show will be several remarkable items including new material that has been added for the London exhibition: a newspaper drawn by Marcia Mihotich to describe Fideicomiso housing in Argentina; original drawings by Itsuko Hasegawa and the Paper Architects of Moscow (Alexander Brodsky and Ilya Utkin). Objects that have travelled from Venice include a five metre long hand crafted Chinese scroll by Darryl Chen in collaboration with Hawkins\Brown; dRMM’s floating terrace; and prototypical survey tools designed by Smout Allen.


On-going work by students and collaborators of the teams will be presented in a ‘Pin-Up Space’ in RIBA Gallery two.


Vicky Richardson, Director Architecture, Design, Fashion at the British Council commented, “Observation and research are part and parcel of design, and what architects do all the time. We wanted to make an exhibition that was a repository for good ideas, gathered by a talented group of architects, to shift our perceptions of what is possible in the UK.”


The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in collaboration with the British Council and the Architectural Association, will host an accompanying season of special events and international exchanges that offer architectural inspiration from beyond UK shores.



Charting a course that takes in Argentina, Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Russia, Thailand and the USA, Venice Takeaway presents the work of ten architecture teams that travelled the world in search of inspiration. The featured projects are:

-          aberrant architecture on the successful Brazilian use of prefabricated primary schools designed by Oscar Niemeyer

-          Smout Allen and BLDGBLOG on learning from Los Angeles to create a British Exploratory Land Archive to record land use in the UK

-          Ross Anderson and Anna Gibb on the ‘Paper Architects’ of 1980s Moscow who found an outlet for their imagination despite restrictions on building

-          Darryl Chen on parallels between the UK and China, focusing on a Beijing suburban village. In collaboration with Hawkins\Brown.

-          dRMM on a floating community in Amsterdam that has thrived under an advanced culture of planning, procurement and design

-          Forum for Alternative Belfast on an ambitious and visionary urban renewal project in 1970/80s Berlin involving international architects

-          Public works, Urban Projects Bureau and Owen Pritchard on the creation of their new ‘Open Charter’ aimed to challenge, clarify and act upon critical issues that determine the role of the architect in the UK

-          Elias Redstone who investigated Fideicomiso in Argentina, a legal trust enabling architects to fund their own projects, without a developer

-          Liam Ross and Tolulope Onabolu who travelled to Lagos to look at the impact of risk and regulation on design

-          Takero Shimazaki/Toh Shimazaki Architecture on what the UK can learn from the work of Japanese architect Itsuko Hasegawa and her ability to connect with the public


The full programme of Venice Takeaway: Ideas to Change British Architecture events follows:


#1. The Dutch Way: From Houseboat to Water House
Tuesday 26 February 6.00pm – 7.30pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London £9 & £6.50 concession
From Buckminster Fuller’s Triton City to Kiyonori Kikutake's Marine City, living on water has long exercised designers’ imagination, but are water based communities becoming a realistic proposition rather than just a utopian dream? Alex de Rijke – dRMM, Sjoerd Soeters – Soeters van Eldonk architecten, Amserdam and Mike Luddy – Royal Docks Management Authority. Chaired by Vicky Richardson – British Council


#2. Architect Explorers: Land Use Taxonomy /Landscape Transformation
Thursday 28 Feb 6.00pm – 7.30pm

Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square London. FREE to attend
What is the British Exploratory Land Archive (BELA)? How can architects learn from the landscape? Inspired by Los Angeles, Smout Allen and Geoff Manaugh outline proposals for exploring and mapping the UK with fresh eyes and new potential.


#3. Itsuko Hasegawa: Ordinary and Heroic
Wednesday 6 March, 6.00pm - 7.30pm

Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square London. FREE to attend
Known for kicking against the grain of architectural fashion, Itsuko Hasegawa reveals the drivers behind her work and explores the notion of design leadership in difficult times.


#4. Fideicomiso! Putting Architecture at the Heart of Housing
Tuesday 23 April 6.30pm - 7.30pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London £9 & £6.50 concession
In Argentina, 'Fideicomiso' enables the development of housing by groups of people working as clients direct with architects. How could it be applied in the UK? Part of a housing futures Double Bill.

Sebastian Adamo – Adamo-Faiden Architects, Buenos Aries; indepenent curator Elias Redstone, Dickon Robinson –Building Futures and David Kohn. Chaired by Alastair Donald – British Council


#5. Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA): Berlin and Belfast 
Tuesday 23 April 7.45pm – 8.45pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London £9 & £6.50 concession
The IBA in West Berlin was a far-sighted urban renewal project completed in 1987. Would an international building exhibition be the best way to deliver better quality architecture in the UK? Part of a housing futures Double Bill.
Jan Kleihues – IBA Expert, Kleihues + Kleihues, Berlin, Declan Hill – Forum for Alternative Belfast, and Gerry Miller – Director of Property and Projects, Belfast City Council. Chaired by Vicky Richardson – British Council




Constraint and Creativity: Is Red Tape the Enemy of Architecture?
Tuesday 5 March, 6.30pm – 8.00pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London £9 & £6.50 concession
In comparison to other countries, the UK is regarded as a place stiffled by red tape and as risk adverse. Will the government’s proposals to tear up Building Regulations threaten design quality or will they set us all free? Liam Ross – Edinburgh University, Tom Mullarkey – Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents and Piers Gough – CZWG.  Chaired by Alastair Donald – British Council


The Working Village: Exploring a radical pilot entrepreneurial village
Thursday 14 March, 6.00 – 8.00pm

Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square London. FREE to attend
Against the backdrop of failing high streets and dying neighbourhoods, is there a radical way of putting planning in the service of the economy? Could Localism be the genuine mechanism for growth as we were once promised and what might radicalism look like? Live thinktank event with Darryl Chen – Tomorrow's Thoughts Today, Finn Williams – Common Office, Wouter Vanstiphout – Crimson Architectural Historians and Levent Kerimol at Design for London. Supported by Hawkins\Brown.


Lessons from Brazil: Is Standardised School Design Compatible with Architecture?

Tuesday 19 March 6.30pm – 8.00pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London £9 & £6.50 concession

In the 1980s, Oscar Niemeyer led an experimental programme in Rio de Janeiro, building 508 prefabricated schools. As the UK embraces standardisation, but stands accused of lacking ambition, can we take inspiration from Brazil?  Washington Fajardo – Rio City Secretary of Heritage, Architecture and Design, David Chambers – Aberrant Architecture and Sunand Prasad (Penoyre & Prasad). Chaired by Oliver Wainwright (The Guardian)




Discussion Bureau
Open Charter Agency: Image of the architect

26 February & 26 March 6pm - 9pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London, free drop in

The Open Charter Agency is a new platform for the public to explore how architects might act as agents of change and thoughts on the profession. Express your views and let them know what you think at the O-C-A Bureau. Led by Alex Warnock-Smith – Urban Projects Bureau, Torange Khonsari and Andreas Lang – Public Works and Owen Pritchard.


Drawing Salon

Paper+ Architects

Saturday 13 April, 10am to 5pm

Calvert 22 Gallery, 22 Calvert Avenue, London.

Inspired by Russian investigations in the paper architects, this drawing event is a chance for young architects to hone the development of creative ideas in response to a current London competition brief.  With Yuri Avvakumov - AgitArch, Moscow, Ross Anderson & Anna Gibb - Paper+ Architects and Prof. Alan Dunlop - Alan Dunlop Architect Ltd/Scott Sutherland School of Architecture




Visionaries and Dreamers

Tuesday 26th March, RIBA, 6.00pm - 10.00pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place London,

Special night programme of talks, film, events and more, inspired by ideas that crossed borders

Creative family workshop


Fantastical Cities

Saturday 6 April, 11am -2pm

RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, free drop in
Bright ideas can come from anywhere at any age. Using international architecture from the RIBA’s collections as inspiration, families are invited to enjoy getting creative together.


Booking information: advance booking for RIBA events is essential Alternatively leave a message on our recorded booking line: 020 7307 3699