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. 


105061 items
RIBA125160Half-elevation of a central arched entrance and on bay to the left, possibly the entrance screen to a town house

RIBA125161Elevation of the end facade of a three-storey house having square-headed windows with a sculptured head over; brick and stone materials indicated; details of mouldings at right lettered and corresponding to the elevation

RIBA125162Two half-elevations: (left) arched entrance - or triumphal arch - one bay at left with niche containing a figure between half-column, pediment with sculpted figure; (right) half-elevation of an arched entrance with rectangular superstructure facing the courtyard (see RIBA125156 for half-elevation facing the street)

RIBA125163Hotel Zamet, Paris: Elevation of one bay of a two-storey facade with attic above

RIBA125164Part of the facade of the Palazzo Cenci alla Dogana, Rome

RIBA125165Part of the facade of the Palazzo Cicciaporci (Palazzo Alberini Cicciaporci), Rome

RIBA125166Part of the facade of the Palazzo Caprini, Rome

RIBA125167Part of the court facade and arcade of the Hotel de Gondi (later Hotel de Conde), Paris

RIBA125168Elevation of a two-storey pavilion with attic, the central door approached by a double flight of curved steps

RIBA125169Elevation of part of an upper storey and attic of three bays

RIBA125170Elevation of the south-east angle pavilion and part of the entrance screen at the Chateau of Montceaux

RIBA125171Two elevations: (above) elevation of a facade with three single-bay two-storey pavilions and one bay of two storeys between each, the central entrance pavilion is approached by a double flight of steps; (below) half-elevation of a facade of two storeys with an attic, the central bay containing an arched entrance with semi-circular pediment above

RIBA125172Two facades in half-elevation: (left) a single-bay two-storey pavilion with, to the right, an arcade with large windows above; (right) part of a facade of two storeys with an attic

RIBA125173Half-elevation of a house of five-bays and two storeys with attic; door is approached by a double flight of curved stairs; a courtyard is indicated with an entrance screen

RIBA125174Half-elevation of a house with a corps-de-logis and flanking pavilions; (below) half-elevation of an entrance screen to a courtyard

RIBA125175Half-elevation of an entrance screen with flanking pavilions

RIBA125176Elevation of an entrance over a moat on a high rusticated base; a high arch is flanked by small rectangular openings and surmounted by a broken curved pediment; the two halves of the design differ in detail

RIBA125177Two half-elevations of an entrance over a moat on a high rusticated base

RIBA125178Half-elevation of a house with a corps-de-logis flanked by pavilions

RIBA125179Half-elevation of an entrance pavilion with part of a screen at left; a pen drawing of a flying figure carrying a scourge and cut out in outline is stuck in at top left

RIBA125180Two entrances in half-elevation with elaborate and confused designs

RIBA125181Hotel de Bouchage, Paris: elevation of three bays of the upper part of a two-storey facade; a central niche in an elaborate frame is flanked by windows; plan of niche and window mouldings below

RIBA125182Hotel de Bouchage, Paris: elevation of the lower part of the facade shown in f.45v (RIBA125181)

RIBA125183Elevation of two and a half bays of an arcade with a gallery over and an attic above with lucarnes and dormers; military trophies surmounting central bay and in spandrels of the arcade (for an alternative design see f.47r, RIBA125184)