Drawings and archives

Drawings Collection

Display of drawings for a Closer Look talk on James Stuart, V&A

Display of drawings from the RIBA for a Closer Look talk, Victoria and Albert Museum
Copyright: RIBA, British Architectural Library 

Visitor noticeNew access procedures. Advanced booking essential for all visits to the RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections and Study Rooms at the V&A.


About the Drawings Collection

The RIBA's collection of drawings, held as part of the RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections, is the largest and most important collection of British architectural drawings in the world. Currently numbering over 1 million drawings, it celebrates the achievements of British architects from the Renaissance to the present day. The collection also contains important drawings by foreign architects, most notably nearly 300 designs and sketches by Andrea Palladio which together forms the world's largest assemblage of his drawings.


Architects in the collection

The majority of the material dates from the 18th and 19th centuries, however it does include some major collections of 20th century architects and some works by contemporary practitioners, including Sir Norman Foster. As well as drawings, there are also architectural objects. Many architects are represented in the collection, including: 

Unexecuted competition design by Ernö Goldfinger

Ernö Goldfinger: Competition design, 1960

Design for a frieze by Inigo Jones, 1618

Inigo Jones: Design for a frieze, 1618

Royal National Theatre, designed by Denys Lasdun & Partners

Denys Lasdun: National Theatre, 1968

Competition design for a country house

Sir Edwin Lutyens: Competition design, 1888

Model for the redevelopment of Whitehall

Sir Leslie Martin: Model of Whitehall redevelopment

Conjectural reconstruction of the Baths of Agrippa, Rome

Andrea Palladio: Baths of Agrippa, Rome, 1550s

Design for decorative carvings

Pugin family: Designs for decorative carvings, 1835

Studies for Bankside Power Station

Scott family: Studies for Bankside Power Station

Cragside, Northumberland: elevation

Richard Norman Shaw:
Cragside, Northumberland

Erechtheion, Acropolis, Athens

James Stuart: Drawing of the Acropolis, 1752

Slingsby Castle, Slingsby, Yorkshire

Smythson family: The front of Slingsby Castle

explanatory drawing of Finsbury Health Centre, London

Tecton: Finsbury Health Centre, 1938 

Design for Sanderson and Sons factory, Chiswick

C. F. A Voysey: Design for a factory, 1902

Design for the Central Technical College for the City and Guilds of London Institute

Alfred Waterhouse: College, South Kensington

Design for the ceiling of the cabinet room, Wilton House

John Webb: Design for the ceiling, Wilton House


More images can be seen on RIBApix. Images from the collection are available for commercial use under licensing agreements. If you are interested in licensing any of the designs, please contact us

Oil paintings

The RIBA holds a number of oil paintings of architectural subjects or linked to the history of the institute. These include a view of the Thames by Christopher Nevinson and portraits of past presidents of the RIBA.

Since 2012, all 212,000 oil paintings in the nation's art collections are now online on the Your Paintings website. Some paintings, including those held in by the RIBA, are not owned by the public, but are nevertheless made available for free to the public for enjoyment and research.

Topographical drawings

The Drawings Collection holds many topographical drawings, the most important of which are probably the views of Greek antiquities painted between 1751 and 1753 by James 'Athenian' Stuart, later engraved for the 'Antiquities of Athens', and William Daniell's views of India. Many architects travelled to Europe and the near East, recording their impressions in sketchbooks or watercolours which are now in the collection. There are also 10,000 architectural engravings, principally of British subjects. 

Objects and portraits

Materials involved in the process of design also form part of this collection, these include: models, drawing instruments, casts, office furniture, medals and the busts and portraits of architects.


Location and access  

Find information on getting here, admissions and opening hours in Visit Us.


RIBA Architecture Study Rooms, Victoria and Albert Museum, London


Visitor noticeNew access procedures. Advanced booking essential for all visits to the RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections and Study Rooms at the V&A.

Admission is free, but advanced booking is essential. Available during the opening hours of the Study Rooms. All material is held in stores and collected for visitors. Contact the Drawings and Archives Collections team to reserve material in advance and to check their availability as some items are held offsite. Group and educational visits welcome but they must book three weeks in advance.

All visitors must read and sign the reader information form before viewing material from the Drawings and Archives Collections.

Finding material

To find out what drawings are held in the collections, search the online catalogue. To perform a simple search of the catalogue enter a keyword and under the 'collections' drop-down menu select 'Drawings'. Parts of the collections have been digitised and can be seen online via RIBApix. Alternatively, please contact the Drawings and Archives Collections.

Please note that the RIBA's collections of books, periodicals and photographs are located at 66 Portland Place, London



Top of page