Changing faces: architectural façades collection

Clever devices for comparing designs

Inspired by the We Live in the Office exhibition which takes us on an architectural journey as told through the history of the façade we thought it would be fun to put together a gallery of architectural drawings all of which feature moveable flaps, an ingenious graphic device by which the reader can view alternative designs on one sheet.

One of the major proponents of this device was the landscape architect Humphry Repton. Repton would produce a Red Book, so called because of their red Morocco leather bindings, for the client of each of his proposed landscape schemes. These bound volumes of essays and watercolours served as persuasive marketing tools for his work and included both 'before' and 'after' views of the development sites utilising overlaid paper flaps to indicate Repton's suggested improvements. One such example held by the RIBA is the Langley Park Red Book for Sir Peter Burrell in 1790 for his Beckenham seat.

One of Repton’s sons, the architect George Stanley Repton, also employed this device to good effect for example at Kitley House showing 'before' and 'after' views from all four points of the compass for the MP for Devonshire, Edmund Pollexfen Bastard.

Explore the collection & buy prints

1 2
36 items
Designs for the Duke of York's Monument at the Whitehall entrance to the Horse Guards building, London: elevation of first design with square monument in the character of triumphal arch and pavilion and two small perspectivesRIBA67788

 
Designs for the Duke of York's Monument at the Whitehall entrance to the Horse Guards building, London: elevation of second design with Doric colonnaded screen and two small perspectivesRIBA67784

 
Designs for the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London: part elevation of south facade showing alternative design for towers with a pediment between themRIBA97169


Designs for the Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London: part elevation of south facade showing alternative design for towersRIBA97185

 
Designs for the third scheme for rebuilding Gopsall Hall, Gopsall, Leicestershire: elevation of the east front showing the domed portico with a removable paper flap in place to conceal an alternative schemeRIBA29783

 
Designs for the third scheme for rebuilding Gopsall Hall, Gopsall, Leicestershire: elevation of the east front showing the portico with a paper flap lifted to reveal an alternative scheme of stepped masonry surmounted by an urnRIBA29784


Unexecuted designs for a house for Philip Rowden, Ewell, Surrey: plan of principal storey and south elevation facing the canalRIBA67354

 
Unexecuted designs for a house for Philip Rowden, Ewell, Surrey: plan of principal storey and south elevation facing the canal with a flap showing alternative elevation for the central blockRIBA67329

 
View from the Fort near Bristol, before proposed alterations: perspective with overlaid paper flap in placeRIBA6631


View from the Fort near Bristol, following proposed alterations: perspective with overlaid paper flap folded backRIBA6630

 
View of Langley Park house, Beckenham, near London, prior to proposed alterations: perspective with overlaid paper flap in placeRIBA35564

 
View of Langley Park house, Beckenham, near London, showing proposed alterations: perspective with overlaid paper flap folded backRIBA35565


1 2