Louis Hellman: Archi-têtes

Celebrating both the RIBA’s acquisition of Louis Hellman’s archive in 2018 and the milestone of RIBApix reaching 100,000 images with his Archi-tête of Charles Rennie Mackintosh we present a gallery of Archi-têtes. Louis Hellman, architect turned cartoonist, is famed for his cartoons satirising the world of architecture, architects, clients, developers and politicians, most notably featured in the Architects’ Journal for over 50 years, see here.

Notions of anthropomorphism are popular in cultural history even extending to architecture and architects who have long made use of the human form as a metaphor for a building and its parts. Perhaps most well known are Vitruvius’ ‘Vitruvian Man’ with his arms and legs outstretched positioned within a square and circle and Le Corbusier’s ‘Modulor’ a scale of proportions based on applying the ‘Golden Section’ to the height of a man with a vertically outstretched arm.

One of the best known and fun items within the RIBA Collections is the caricature bust of Sir Edwin Lutyens incorporating an architectural model for a 'chattri' roof feature for the Viceroy's House (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) in New Delhi.

The Archi-têtes series of caricatures of architects using elements of their own buildings and style plays on the anthropomorphic elements in architecture in a unique way. The series was actually conceived as competition entry to the Architectural Review in 1984 which Hellman won. He then continued to create further caricatures, himself and certain politicians included, for the Architectural Review and which were published in the book Archi-têtes: the id in the Grid (2000).

To see the full range of Hellman’s Archi-têtes on RIBApix click here.

Feature by Jonathan Makepeace. 


104035 items
RIBA2931-28Mercury Housing Society flats, 125 Park Road, Regent's Park, London

RIBA2932-28Sir Peter Shepheard

RIBA2934-28Blackpool Casino, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool, looking out to the Funhouse and rides

RIBA2935-28Grand National, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool: the entrance

RIBA2936-28Blackpool Casino, Pleasure Beach, Blackpool

RIBA2937-28Pierre Vago

RIBA2938-28Maison de Verre, rue St Guillame, Paris

RIBA2939-28Euskalduna Jauregia Palacio de Congresos y de la Musica, Bilbao, Spain

RIBA2940-28Euskalduna Jauregia Palacio de Congresos y de la Musica, Bilbao, Spain

RIBA2941-28Euskalduna Jauregia Palacio de Congresos y de la Musica, Bilbao, Spain

RIBA2942-28Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

RIBA2943-28Shir Dor Madrasa, Samarkand: tiled dome

RIBA2944-28Shir Dor Madrasa, Samarkand: the main facade

RIBA2945-28Gur Emir Mausoleum, Samarkand: gateway decoration

RIBA2946-29Gur Emir Mausoleum, Samarkand

RIBA2947-29Gur Emir Mausoleum, Samarkand

RIBA2948-29Kalyan Minaret, Bukhara

RIBA2949-29Highpoint One, North Hill, Highgate, London: view from an upper storey flat

RIBA2950-29St Bride's Roman Catholic Parish Church, Whitemoss Avenue, East Kilbride, seen from the south-west with the campnile on the left and the presbytery in the foreground

RIBA2951-29St Bride's Roman Catholic Parish Church, Whitemoss Avenue, East Kilbride: the east wall of the nave

RIBA2952-29Critical Projects exhibition: model of Fun Palace project

RIBA2953-29St Bride's Roman Catholic Parish Church, Whitemoss Avenue, East Kilbride: the church, campanile and presbytery

RIBA2954-29Cathedral Church of St Michael, Coventry: the new cathedral rising above the ruins of the medieval cathedral

RIBA2955-29Cathedral Church of St Michael, Coventry: the steps and porch adorned by the sculpture of 'St Michael and the Devil'