Radical Rooms, RIBA Summer Exhibition
Radical Rooms is an exhibition commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects for their Architecture Gallery at Portland Place. The exhibition is a collaboration between CHA and artist Di Mainstone which explores themes of power within domestic plans and re-examines the role of women in architecture.
Spanning nearly 500 years, the exhibition is anchored in three domestic buildings from the 16th, 18th and 20th centuries: Hardwick Hall, A la Ronde and the Hopkins House. Each of these houses involved the significant role of women in their commissioning, design and construction, an input that has generally been downplayed in architectural history. Hardwick Hall is an Elizabethan mansion built for lavish entertaining by Bess of Hardwick. A La Ronde is a sixteen-sided Regency cottage conceived by two cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter. Designed by Patty and Michael Hopkins in the mid-1970s as both their home and their office, the Hopkins House utilised mass-produced and industrial components.
The exhibition takes the form of an abstract grid of connected rooms defined by curtains and carpets employing patterns derived from the three houses. These rooms are then animated by projections and an audio track written and choreographed by Di that brings the personalities involved in each of these houses to vivid life. Bess of Hardwick, Jane and Mary Parminter and Patty Hopkins become the inhabitants of the spaces, telling their stories through music, dance and spoken word.
The exhibition also includes a number of archive drawings and photographs from the RIBA Collections which explore the relationship between power and the domestic plan. Together, the three elements – the physical installation, the projections and the archive material – form a multi-sensory and immersive experience exploring the relationship of houses to power.
Radical Rooms: Power in the Plan opens on April 28th.
Photography Credit: Gareth Gardner/RIBA