We’re committed to platforming the work and stories of LGBTQ+ communities in architecture. On this page, we’re sharing how we’re currently doing this through projects and activities across the institute.
Radical Rooms: Power of the plan is the RIBA's current exhibition, created through a partnership between architect Charles Holland and visual artist Di Mainstone.
Exploring the power relations embedded within the layout of our domestic spaces, the exhibition uses stories from architectural history and highlights moments when the architectural plan has challenged or changed the conventions of domestic life.
The exhibition highlights the works of notable LGBTQ+ architects and designers such as pioneering modernist designer Eileen Gray and furniture/interiors designer Max Clendinning. It also features queer spaces such as St. Ann’s Court, designed by Raymond McGrath in 1937.
This exhibition runs until 30 July, plan your visit now.
Throughout history, architectural spaces have formed sites where LGBTQ+ communities have explored, celebrated, or concealed sexual and gender identities.
This guide signposts some of the resources and materials available through the RIBA's Library and Collections. It is likely that many more stories are yet to be discovered, remaining untold because of legislation that forced LGBTQ+ individuals to conceal their identities or risk prosecution.
Articles looking at LGBTQ+ lives from within the RIBA Collections:
The firm Seely and Paget played an important role in British architecture from the 1920s to the 1960s, from their controversial transformation of Eltham Palace for Stephen and Virginia Courtauld in 1936, to their work as successive surveyors to the fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral.
This is the story of how two men navigated homophobic attitudes in commissioning a modernist new home in the 1930s, illustrated by photographs and drawings from the RIBA Collections.
We explore how the dome of Florence Cathedral reveals the presence of queer stories at the symbolic heart of the Western architectural tradition.
Strawberry Hill House in Twickenham, southwest London, can be read as a "queer architectural rebellion”, raising important questions about the connection between architectural innovation and queer identity.
There are a number of books available to buy via RIBA Books that centre around LGBTQ+ themes - explore some of the titles below:
Queer X Design: 50 Years of Signs, Symbols, Banners, Logos, and Graphic Art of LGBTQ - Published in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Stonewall and the Gay Pride Parade, this is the first-ever illustrated history of the iconic art, symbols, and design that represent more than five decades of LGBTQ pride and activism.
Queer London: A Guide to the City's LGBTQ+ Past and Present - This book delves into the cultural history of queerness in the capital, including events, organisations or venues that have sometimes been forgotten or overlooked, but which were of key importance to the community.
Lives in Architecture: Nigel Coates - Launched by RIBA Publishing this month, this autobiography is by one of the UK’s most celebrated designers. The book charts his life from a childhood spent in rural Worcestershire to his years as a student at the Architectural Association, the founding of radical architectural group NATO, his prolific professional career, and much more.*
Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories - Launched by RIBA Publishing in May 2022, this lavishly illustrated 'atlas' celebrates over 90 queer spaces from around the world.*
*Use code Pride2022 for 20% off at RIBA Books checkout.
Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories book launch – Grimshaw Architects
23 June 2022, 6pm to 8pm BST
Grimshaw Architects London, 57 Clerkenwell Road, London
Grimshaw invites you to join them for this book launch and panel discussion chaired by Adam Nathaniel Furman and Joshua Mardell, editors of Queer Spaces: An Atlas of LGBTQIA+ Places and Stories.
Meet-Up and march for Pride Glasgow
25 June 2022, from 10am BST
Many Studios, 3 Ross St, Glasgow
Join the Architecture LGBT+ Scotland team for a free Pride Brunch (light buffet) hosted by New Practice at Many Studios. Following the Pride Brunch, join the team who will be marching in the Glasgow Pride March.
The Power of the Dog: Film screening and Q&A
28 June 2022, 9pm to 11.30pm BST
Bussey Building, 133 Rye Lane, London
RIBA + VitrA Talk: A Life in Architecture - Nigel Coates
29 June 2022, 7pm to 8.45pm BST
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London
Join us for a keynote lecture from Nigel Coates, to coincide with the launch of his new autobiography published by RIBA Publishing.
2 July 2022, from 9am BST
Join us at 76 Portland Place for Pride Breakfast, from 9am to 10:45am.
Making Radical Rooms: In conversation with Di Mainstone and Charles Holland
5 July 2022, 7pm to 8.30pm BST
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London
Join visual artist Di Mainstone and architect Charles Holland, as they reveal the design process behind making the latest RIBA exhibition Radical Rooms: Power of the plan.
Curator tour of Radical Rooms: Power of the plan
12 July 2022, 6pm to 7pm BST
RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London
Join RIBA Curator Margaret Cubbage, for an intimate tour of our latest exhibition Radical Rooms: Power of the plan.
Construction's at UK Pride, Newcastle and Pride Breakfast
23 July 2022, 10am to 3pm BST
Newcastle upon Tyne
Join Building Equality North East, Architecture LGBT+ and supporting built environment companies at the UK Pride March in Newcastle upon Tyne.
UK Black Pride
14 August 2022
UK Black Pride – Europe’s largest pride celebration for LGBTQI+ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern-descent returns for its annual in-person protest and celebration in August at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Pride events across the UK
There are Pride events taking place across the UK this summer, from Brighton to Glasgow. Take a look at the Pride Events Calendar to find an event near you.
In March, for International Transgender Day of Visibility, we filmed an interview with transgender architect Danni Kerr where she highlighted the importance of people becoming trans allies: “We need your support - if you're prepared to be visible as a trans ally, that's fantastic. You're prepared to be heard as a trans ally. And, if you're prepared to be seen in the same space as transgender people, that speaks volumes."
So – what does being an ally to underrepresented groups mean? And how we can action change for the better, within ourselves and our wider society? Put simply – it's about acknowledging our own identities, without taking up space, listening to lived experiences and working to actively take down barriers.
Resources to support you:
- Read this blog with practical tips on being an effective ally.
- Learn about how to be a better ally by talking about gender pronouns in the workplace.
- Listen to our RIBA Radio podcast episode below, where panelists discuss how queerness must be allowed to exist and be normalised at every level of the profession.
<iframe width="700" height="166" scrolling="no" frameborder="no" allow="autoplay" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/1192003966&color=%23ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&show_teaser=true"></iframe><div style="font-size: 10px; color: #cccccc;line-break: anywhere;word-break: normal;overflow: hidden;white-space: nowrap;text-overflow: ellipsis; font-family: Interstate,Lucida Grande,Lucida Sans Unicode,Lucida Sans,Garuda,Verdana,Tahoma,sans-serif;font-weight: 100;"><a href="https://soundcloud.com/the-riba" title="The RIBA" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">The RIBA</a> · <a href="https://soundcloud.com/the-riba/riba-radio-episode-14-cq" title="RIBA Radio, Episode 14: CQ Knowledge - LGBTQ+ lives" target="_blank" style="color: #cccccc; text-decoration: none;">RIBA Radio, Episode 14: CQ Knowledge - LGBTQ+ lives</a></div>
Visit our Equity, Diversity and Inclusion page to learn more about RIBA's EDI initiatives and access additional resources.