A GENERATION JUST AS TALENTED AND ECLECTIC AS THOSE IN THEIR PRIME
Next week sees the opening of the AJ Corus 40 Under 40 exhibition at the V&A Museum.
Inevitably some will feel that this contemporary incarnation lacks the substance of its precursors, held at the RIBA back in 1985 and 1988. And, in a very literal sense, they will be right.
The exhibition's content has been subjected to a particularly vicious editing process. The 40 Under 40 shows of the 1980s were, to a certain extent, self-curating, in that each entry was accepted as a ready-made exhibit. This year we have been unapologetically interventionist.
The AJ spent an illuminating morning with Michael Snodin of the V&A, who thought that, for the most part, the entries were too bitty or too baffling to be shown as they were. This was no reflection on the quality of the work - simply his expert opinion on what would communicate to a wide audience in a museum setting.
In a bid for clarity and simplicity, the original six boards submitted were culled to four for each practice. Many that did make the grade were returned to sender, adorned with Post-it notes bearing instructions such as: 'Delete 'negotiating a new symbiosis' and replace with 'Thames Gateway.'' Or simply: 'Delete text.' We have been even more brutal in the feature in this week's AJ, which doubles as the exhibition catalogue. We have published just one project by each of the 40 Under 40, and a dramatically edited version at that.
We have sought to produce an engaging and accessible overview of the generation that is as talented and eclectic (and as sporadically verbose) as those architects who are currently in their prime. To make the comparison for yourself, visit the V&A, where AJ Corus 40 Under 40 is on show alongside an exhibition that celebrates 10 years of the Stirling Prize.
Those who prefer their information in a slightly less edited form can access the 40 Under 40 practice websites in their entirety through www. ajplus. co. uk/40under40