Giles Round reveals architectural “graphic qualities” in new RIBA exhibition on façades

There is a particular focus on archival graphics in Giles’s We Live in the Office exhibition, which looks to unlock the RIBA’s archive and bring it to new audiences.

Minoan palace of Knossos, Iraklion, Crete: facade of the shrine on the central court and its system of colouring
Minoan palace of Knossos, Iraklion, Crete. Facade of the shrine on the central court and its system of colouring

Artist Giles Round is working on an exhibition for the RIBA’s Architecture Gallery, which delves into a rich graphic and photographic archive to explore the façade.

Giles’ work is known for incorporating elements of graphic and interior design, architecture and even set design.

He was invited to explore the RIBA Collections and create a response to them in the Architecture Gallery, which opened in 2014 as a route to exploring the collections of the British Architectural Library.

Tension between exterior and interior

The exhibition We Live in the Office, looks at the tension between the static exterior and changing interior of architecture around us.

It is the second year running that the RIBA has commissioned a response to its RIBA Collections, which contain archival drawings, models and photographs.

Last year’s Brutalist Playground by Assemble and Simon Terrill, proved particularly popular.

Children climbing a concrete screen, Higher Secondary School, Chandigarh, 1956 designed by Jane Drew (c) RIBA Collections
Children climbing a concrete screen, Higher Secondary School, Chandigarh, 1956. Designed by Jane Drew (c) RIBA Collections

Round’s exhibition has a focus on the façade. He has looked to highlight the aesthetic qualities of façades in their original conception as well as how they are subsequently used and reused with some other contemporary purpose.

There is also a focus on how façades can be “collected” and preserved to create an archive of buildings in real space and time.

Looking for “graphic qualities”

Round says: “Central to the exhibition, an idea reflected in the title, is the re-appropriation and repurposing of buildings that no longer fulfil the functional requirements for which they were designed.

“Working with the RIBA Collections, I focused on particular facades that I found interesting either graphically or due to their backstory. Throughout the exhibition the graphic quality of the selected facades are appropriated, stylistically altered, into new forms and different media.”

Four decorative cladding panels, Best Products Catalog Showroom, Oxford Valley Mall, Langhorne, Pennsylvania
Four decorative cladding panels, Best Products Catalog Showroom, Oxford Valley Mall, Langhorne, Pennsylvania

RIBA head of exhibitions Marie Bak Mortensen says that he hopes the exhibition shows the “contemporary relevance” of the collection to “creative, artistic and architectural endeavours”.

There will be an accompanying “style book” gallery hand out, designed by Round, featuring the façades that inspired Round.

RIBA curatorial programmes coordinator Corinne Mynatt worked with RIBA project curator Colin Sterling – who helped Round explore the RIBA Collections. The exhibition was also in collaboration with Lotte Juul Petersen, artists & programmes curator at Wysing Arts Centre.

According to an RIBA spokeswoman Round designed the exhibition and has taken a very holistic approach to the design, working on everything from the type used in the exhibition and online to the carpets, curtains and ceramics within the space. 

We Live in the Office runs from 22 September – 5 February 2017 at Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD

Chiat Day Building
Chiat Day Building
LMH
Little Moreton Hall, Cheshire, 1575. Photograph 1956 (c) Edwin Smith, RIBA Collections

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