March 11, 2020 - Royal Institute of British Architects - Freestyle
e-flux Architecture
March 11, 2020
March 11, 2020

Royal Institute of British Architects

Installation view: Freestyle - Architectural Adventures in Mass Media at RIBA Architecture Gallery. © Francis Ware.

Architectural Adventures in Mass Media
February 26–May 16, 2020

From the Printing Press to Pinterest: March 17, 7–8:30pm, a lecture by Space Popular with Oliver Wainwright
Designer tour of Freestyle exhibition: May 5, 6:30–7:30pm, with Space Popular

66 Portland Place
United Kingdom
Twitter / Instagram / Facebook

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) presents its first virtual reality (VR) exhibition, exploring key moments in the evolution of architectural styles over the last 500 years.

This new commission by multidisciplinary design studio Space Popular raises one of the most enduring concerns of architecture: the rise and fall of styles. Drawing on RIBA’s world-class collections, Space Popular uses virtual reality to examine architecture styles of the past—from the Renaissance to postmodernism—while considering technology’s impact on contemporary buildings and spaces.

Freestyle: Architectural Adventures in Mass Media welcomes visitors into an immersive environment, exploring the impact of popular cultures and technologies on the evolution of architectural style. The VR narrative is enriched by 22 exclusive and historic artefacts from the RIBA collections, spanning 500 years of architectural history, including books, stereoscopic prints, photoprints, drawings, negatives, patterns and sketch books. Highlights include ­original works by Owen Jones, Augustus Pugin and John Nash, while featured buildings range from the beloved Brighton Pavilion, Kensington Pagoda and the Crystal Palace, to the myriad social VR "spaces" available online.

A large-scale architectural model, custom-designed by Space Popular, dominates the RIBA Architecture Gallery. This is accompanied by a bespoke colourful carpet, representing technological periods throughout history, which aligns with the timeline of the model.

An elaborately crafted VR experience takes each visitor on an illuminating tour through the space, guided by knowledgeable "avatars" that link animated and physical content. In addition, 15 students from London Design and Engineering University Technical College participated in a special co-creation programme with Space Popular and RIBA. This collaboration allowed the students to produce alternative interpretations and their own VR environments, also displayed in the gallery.

Freestyle is the second in a series of installation exhibitions based on the iconic publication by Italian renaissance architect, Sebastiano Serlio: The Seven Books of Architecture. The first exhibition, Disappear Here – On Perspective and other Kinds of Space, saw the practice Sam Jacob Studio respond to Serlio’s book on perspective. Freestyle takes its cue from the fourth volume, titled On the Five Styles of Buildings. An early edition of Serlio’s work forms part of RIBA’s Rare Book collection, and features in the show. 

The exhibition has been supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

Royal Institute of British Architects
Share - Freestyle
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York