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RIBA announces 'At Home in Britain' exhibition

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Opening in May at The Architecture Gallery the exhibition will showcase creative suggestions for future housing design

At Home in Britain: Designing the House of Tomorrow will present adventurous new ideas for future housing design. Taking the cottage, terrace and flat as a starting point, six contemporary architecture practices have been newly commissioned to transform the three familiar typologies to reflect the way we live and work in the 21st century: Mecanoo, Edouard François, Jamie Fobert Architects, Mӕ Architects, vPPR and Studio Weave.

Using material from the RIBA Collections as stimulus, the architects will explore ideas of affordability, communal living and housing density today. The new work will be displayed alongside photographs, books and drawings from the collections.

The RIBA exhibition is in partnership with a three-part BBC Four series, Dan Cruickshank: At Home with the British, which explores the historical development of the British home.

Architects Jamie Fobert and Edouard Francois will redesign the cottage as an affordable contemporary housing solution to rival the developer-driven, mass-produced suburban housing aimed at first- time buyers. Historically, the cottage has been the archetypal low-cost housing. Self-built, using local building materials one third of Britons were listed as ‘cottars’ in the Domesday book. Through the RIBA Collections the exhibition highlights how urbanisation led to the cottage being idealised as a middle class fantasy of a country idyll, with its aesthetic being utilised in the Garden City movement and the design of the urban semi. The contemporary commissions will explore the relevance of the cottage today in light of the need to protect our rural landscape and avoid urban sprawl.

Nearly one third of people in Britain today live in a terraced house and in 2014, 14 per cent worked from home. Mӕ Architects and vPPR have been commissioned to reflect on how architecture affects our relationships with our neighbours and to reimagine terraced housing to accommodate contemporary live/work patterns. RIBA archive material will illustrate the development of the terraced house in Britain from the grand Regency terraces to the largescale building of brick terraces, including back-to-back and court dwellings and the social dynamic of factory-worker neighbourhoods.

Studio Weave and Mecanoo have been commissioned to consider how the future building of flats could answer the social opportunity of increased communal living by rethinking conventional social groupings and the use of shared spaces.

RIBA Collection material selected by the architects as part of their research will be displayed alongside other curated collection material, including the original designs for the Isokon Flats in Hampstead, interior photographs of Denys Lasdun’s Hallfield Estate in its recently completed form, Arne Jacobsen’s designs for St Catherine’s College Cambridge, Peter Cook’s competition design for housing on Roosevelt Island, New York and others.

The exhibition is co-curated by Anna Holsgrove, Curatorial Exhibitions Manager and Justine Sambrook, Curator of Photography at RIBA, and designed by Jamie Fobert Architects. It will be accompanied by a series of talks and events.

At Home in Britain: Designing the House of Tomorrow at The Architecture Gallery, RIBA. Free entry. 18 May – 29 August 2016

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