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A hundred years of Surrealism - le cadavre exquis toolkit

For LGBT+ History Month 2024, we're marking the 100th anniversary of Surrealism – a powerful movement in the arts. As part of this anniversary, we've created an interactive toolkit influenced by architecture that allows participants, quite literally, to play with, dissemble and reimagine items from the RIBA Collections.

This toolkit has been created as part of LGBT+ History Month to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Surrealist movement in February 2024.

It contains everything you need to host a team-building activity that will help expand your understanding of Surrealism's impact on architecture and promote creativity within your practice.

Surrealism’s influence on architecture

The influence of Surrealism in the world of architecture is mostly philosophical, as it can be seen as a liberatory process to enhance creativity. In other words, surrealism poses a philosophical challenge to architecture to embrace the daring and unexpected in design. 

Much of the surrealist philosophy that influenced architecture focused on ‘de-constructing’ reality to create something new in a way that was light-hearted and entertaining. In the spirit of liberation, abandon and fun, the concepts of ‘games’ and ‘play’ were central to the lives and works of the surrealist group.  

Read more about the Surrealist movement and its connection to the LGBTQ+ community as part of the anniversary celebrations.

'Le cadavre exquis' using images from RIBApix

Le cadavre exquis 

The Surrealists invented new games and modified old games according to the definition of Surrealism given by the Surrealist writer, André Breton, by casting rationality aside and challenging the very concept of a rule. From this subversive approach, one of the first Surrealist games, le cadavre exquis [exquisite corpse] was born. 

From the playing of the game itself, its name was chosen from the first sentence ever contributed to the blank sheet, “Le cadavre exquis boira le vin nouveau." [the exquisite corpse shall drink the new wine].  

In this same spirit of subversion and joy, this version of the game has been developed by RIBA's LGBTQ+ Community internal group to celebrate the anniversary. It also highlights components of the RIBA Collections that span LGBTQ+ history, including buildings designed both for clients or by architects that were part of the community itself.

This architectural version of the classic game allows participants, quite literally, to play with, dissemble and reimagine, items from the RIBA Collections to create something new - which may even lead to inspiration for a future Stirling Prize award-winning project.

Activity instructions and supplies 

Le cadavre exquis traditionally involves participants taking turns writing or drawing on a sheet of paper, folding it to conceal their contribution, and then passing it to the next player for a further contribution.

This activity works best when played between three to five players.

Toolkit components and instructions can be found below.

RIBA Surrealism - le cadavre exquis sample from images in the RIBA Collections (Image: Pexels)

Toolkit components 

  • Instructions and adaptations for playing with larger groups 
  • Downloadable image bank from RIBApix to use for this game (see below)


  • A large piece of sturdy paper to create your artwork on 
  • A second large piece of paper, slightly smaller than the base piece  
  • Printed copies of the RIBApix images supplied in this toolkit 
  • Scissors 
  • Glue or double-sided tape 
  • Something to use as a timer (phone or watch) 


  1. Begin by printing out the RIBApix images supplied in this toolkit 
  2. Set up a table with your base piece of paper, the printed images and your pairs of scissors/adhesives 
  3. Each activity works best for groups of 3 to 5, if you have a larger practice, divide everyone into groups of this size and ensure they have enough supplies on each table (you may need to print out multiple copies of the images and share them amongst the tables) 
  4. Using your timer, each participant has 1 minute to choose an image, cut out part of it (think creatively with the shapes and outlines you see) and then glue it to the main piece of paper 
  5. Once the first participant has added their collage piece, have them cover up the artwork using another piece of plain paper before the timer stops 
  6. The next participant then repeats the process by building upon the original image and covering up the artwork before the timer stops 
  7. This process can continue for several rounds, depending on how much time you have or how detailed you’d like the final artwork to be 
  8. Once all rounds have been completed, you can remove the top piece of paper to reveal the final artwork 

Once your artwork is completed, we want to see it. Share your final results with us using the hashtag #RIBASurrealism and tagging us on socials, or send us an image to

A selection of artwork that is shared with us via email will become part of an exhibition to go on display at 66 Portland Place in London for Pride Month (June and July 2024). We will contact the winners nearer to the time with further information. 

We look forward to seeing your results.  

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