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RIBA Architecture Gallery: 2020 open call for installation proposals

13 January 2020

Architecture Open is an annual opportunity for creatives at all stages of their careers to develop an artistic and architectural exhibition. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) invites proposals for a temporary installation for the Architecture Gallery at the RIBA Headquarters, 66 Portland Place.

The commission will be the main exhibition for the 2020 summer season, coinciding with the London Festival of Architecture (LFA), on view from 28 May through to September. This unique platform offers the opportunity to display thought-provoking ideas, visually arresting architectural experiences and encourage a more informal interaction with architecture.

Playing the Picturesque: 2019's exhibition by You + Pea © Tristan Fewings, Getty Images for RIBA

Installation brief

This open call connects to the 2020 London Festival of Architecture theme of Power, a topic that resonates strongly with architecture. There are multiple ways in which the theme can be interpreted, whether through statements of authority, the organisation of citizens through physical structures, or a commitment to construct and function without demanding an abundant use of power.

RIBA invites applicants to consider why and how architecture stands as such a powerful form of expression. The notion of power can be physically and psychologically visible within our cities, through monuments, open spaces or architectural associations that manifest authority or even suppression in various typologies. It can be communicated symbolically through inequality and colonial associations, embellished through architectural ornamentations or styles. Similarly, it might be interpreted in climate terms, as power used or harnessed to generate energy: an important focus considering the urgency to address sustainable building practice, through both materiality and construction methods.

How the theme ‘power’ is addressed remains open to interpretation and there is no prescribed brief for how the gallery is to be animated: this could take the form of a built installation, a set of architectural sculptures, sound pieces or a film. RIBA will be looking for a thought-provoking response to the theme that demonstrates an ability to convey a clear and topical curatorial narrative while providing a unique, experimental and spatial experience in the gallery.

This is an opportunity for emerging, mid-career and established names to form part of the history of RIBA commissions and its impressive trajectory of staging architectural exhibition since 1921. There is scope to collaborate with the Public Programmes team at RIBA to deliver up to two events that offer new discursive means to address the chosen topic. To advocate the inclusive nature of the profession and the increasingly blurred boundaries of the traditional design disciplines, architects are welcome to develop ideas as a collaborative endeavour with an artist or designer.

Budget

The total budget installation production and material is £25,000 with a £4,000 design fee (excluding VAT).

All work, including material and construction costs, as well as ongoing maintenance costs, must be feasible within this budget and the timeframe specified. In-gallery interpretation graphics and marketing will be covered by a separate budget. Travel expenses will be offered to selected architects based outside the local area, if required.

Timetable

  • 13 January 2020: launch of open call
  • 13 February 2020: deadline to submit response to the theme of ‘Power’
  • w/c 2 March 2020: proposals reviewed by curatorial panel
  • 9 March 2020: architects notified regarding outcome
  • March – May 2020: selected project developed in dialogue with RIBA curators
  • w/c 11 May 2020: fabrication and install
  • 28 May 2020: exhibition opening
  • September: de-install

Selection criteria

The proposal can be an existing project or idea: however, applications need to be flexible and practices need to be open-minded with an inquisitive outlook. Experimentation and imaginative thinking are encouraged in order to challenge our understanding of the notion of ‘power’ as well as the way in which architecture is perceived and experienced by audiences. Clear consideration of material and construction methods should also be expressed, especially in relation to best practice in sustainability. It is important that the proposals take into consideration that the gallery will not be invigilated during the exhibition period.

Eligibility and conditions

The Power open call is open to all RIBA Members, RIBA Chartered Practices, architecture students and non-members. Entry requires a named individual project leader as a point of contact (all team members will be credited if successful).

It is a condition of entry that any non-member project leader who is not employed by an RIBA Chartered Practice and is selected to build their design at 1:1 must then become an RIBA Member relevant to their career level (i.e. Student, Affiliate, Associate, Chartered).

Submission requirements

To enter, please complete the online application form and take note of the following information in relation to file sizes and word limits.

Include:

  • A breakdown of your team/practice, listing relevant roles and experiences and specifying one project leader/ main person to contact
  • One statement (300-400 words) describing your proposal and how it responds to the theme of Power
  • Two A4 pages (max.) written or illustrated, describing your response to the Power theme and including specific spatial proposition for the gallery space
  • Up to four images of previous projects (built or unbuilt) with captions, which you feel are most relevant to the brief

All submissions should be uploaded through the online form. Any queries must be emailed to opencall@riba.org before 10 February.

The deadline for entries is 5pm on Thursday 13 February 2020.

Once you've applied you will receive an automated email to confirm we've received your application. After that, you will only be contacted if you are shortlisted and if your application is successful.

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