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Paper City: Urban Utopias, Royal Academy of Arts, London

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The Royal Academy is doing a U-turn for the YouTube generation; tearing up the rulebook for design exhibitions with this free user-friendly show

So accustomed to ‘interactive’ installations being about computer simulations and glossy expensive catalogues, new exhibition Paper City: Urban Utopias is the antidote to all this.

Viewers are invited to rip off pages from the exhibition which features a retrospective of Blueprint magazine’s back page commissions from the past three years, together with ten further commissions based on the brief ‘envisioning urban utopias’.

RA (Royal Academy) Architecture Programme Curator Kate Goodwin explains that this exhibition is about freedom, choice, accessibility and free interpretation – a departure from the norm for the RA; these qualities often missing from institutional architectural events.

Featured Artist Chris Orr remarks ‘I am fascinated by the complexity of cities but when forced to draw the result becomes ultimately something much simpler’. His interest in fragments and abstraction has led to interesting results. A Royal Academian, Orr was commissioned to do further works for this exhibition. He explains his fascination with Shanghai, what he describes as ‘the quintessential city’ and one with changing histories.

To the notion that his work can be taken away for free by visitors, he replies, simply ‘I love it.’ Chances are, you will too. The show runs until 27th October, in the gallery space next to the restaurant.

Royal Academy Burlington House, Piccadilly, until 27 October 2009

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