The Royal Academy has temporarily been transformed into the Centre Pompidou with the addition of colourful exterior (faux) ventilation pipes for an exhibition celebrating the ideas and work of architect Richard Rogers, known most famously for his revolutionary and controversial “inside out” design of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, but also for London’s own Millennium Dome, the Lloyd’s Building and the Leadenhall Building (colloquially known as the “Cheesegrater”), currently under construction (see our guide to Rogers' London buildings for more)
This retrospective exhibition honours Rogers on the occasion of his 80th birthday, and features a plethora of his sketches, notebooks, personal items and architectural models to see and explore. The exhibition itself, with its bright colours (a characteristic feature of many of Rogers’s designs), is a visual delight to behold.
The exhibition traces Rogers’s career development from his student days at London’s Architectural Association and at Yale, through to his current projects, including the construction of the Leadenhall Building. The exhibition also displays some of Rogers’s unbuilt projects, including an extension to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It explores Rogers's ethos, his strong and passionate beliefs that resonate throughout his practice and philosophy, including a strong belief that architecture could shape and change society.
Rogers’s political activism is also apparent throughout this exhibition, particularly in his urban plans. Rogers holds that cities are the “high point of human achievement” and that they should be designed with public spaces in mind. Cities bring people together with a resulting exchange of ideas and the formation of communities, and therefore, public spaces in the urban landscape are vital. Rogers’s designs clearly embody his principles of architecture contributing to a built landscape that encourages fairness and social justice, in addition to delight and wonder.
This exhibition is a wonderful tribute to an architect whose work has had such far-reaching and international acclaim and impact.
See Richard Rogers: Inside Out at the Royal Academy of Arts, Burlington Gardens from 18 July– 13 October. Admission £8 / various concessions apply. Booking recommended.
By Sarah Stewart
See also: The London Buildings of Richard Rogers