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

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96355 items
Babbacombe Cliff, near Torquay, Devon: contract drawingsRIBA21982

BBC Television Centre, Wood Lane, Hammersmith, London: the main entrance and central courtyard with sculpture of Helios by nightRIBA55167

Chapel of St Lawrence, Rugby School, Rugby: perspective study, south elevation, plan and sectionRIBA22190

Design for a Baroque altarpiece: elevation with each half showing a different schemeRIBA35687

Babbacombe Cliff, near Torquay, Devon: contract drawings incorporating collaged fragments of wall fabricRIBA21981

Beach and Palace Pier, BrightonRIBA47310

Cheltenham Grammar School, CheltenhamRIBA54712

Design for a block of flats, Meadow Way, Letchworth: elevations, sections and plansRIBA21363

Bar cafe, Bardolino, Lake GardaRIBA50611

Birmingham Reference Library and the new central library, Chamberlain Square, BirminghamRIBA51396

Chichester Cathedral: detail from the panel depicting the 'Raising of Lazarus' in the south aisle of the choirRIBA38867

Design for a garden layout on Ynys Gaint, Menai StraitRIBA12722

Balfron Tower, Rowlett Street, Poplar, LondonRIBA45822

Berthold Lubetkin in top hat beside caryatid at the entrance to Highpoint Two, North Hill, Highgate, LondonRIBA2902-26

Chez Laurie, Thanet Way, Herne Bay, KentRIBA8058

Design for a cenotaph commemorating World War One for the churchyard of the Church of St Martin, Marple, Cheshire: elevation and planRIBA22513

Barbican Estate, City of London: close-up of the Lauderdale TowerRIBA34243

Black & White Milk Bar, Gray's Inn Road, London, at nightRIBA2561-10

Christ Church, Spitalfields, London, seen from Brushfield StreetRIBA3722

Design for a gazebo in the rose garden at Parkfield (now Witanhurst House), West Hill, Highgate, London, for Sir Arthur Crosfield: elevations, plan and sectionsRIBA41589

Barbican Estate, City of London: typical elevation of a terrace blockRIBA97301

Bridgeway Hall Methodist Mission (fomerly Arkwright Methodist Church), The Meadows, Nottingham, seen from Kirkwhite StreetRIBA48844

Churchfields Secondary School, West BromwichRIBA44314

Design for a loggia beside the tennis courts in the gardens at Parkfield (now Witanhurst House), West Hill, Highgate, London, for Sir Arthur Crosfield: elevations and sectionRIBA41590

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