175th anniversary – RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects)

« 2009 marks the 175th anniversary of the founding of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). To celebrate this milestone, the Institute is looking forward to a program of special events to be held throughout the year that aims to show the breadth of their activities throughout the world of architecture, engage an even wider public and celebrate the benefits to society of good design.

A sampling of events include an online presentation of the Institute’s Gold Medal, viewable on the RIBA website. In Manchester, 175 photos of RIBA competition submissions are on display until October 5, 2009 at the CUBE Gallery, whose goal is to present emblematic public and private British architectural projects. Furthermore, a competition open to young people between the ages of 14 and 19 invites the design of the international parliament of the future.

Behind the 175 « splash » logo

The buildings were chosen because of a number of factors to conform to the demands of the
design of the celebratory ’splash’.

Firstly, they have to be simple finger-like silhouettes – many extraordinary buildings, such
as the Guggenheim in Bilbao by Frank Gehry, are squat with few distinguishing features when robbed of their three-dimensionality, and would not work within the design constraints.

They had to be instantly recognisable – Lord Foster’s ’Gherkin’ is far easier to recognise than a hundred thousand other box-like skyscrapers.

They have to be demonstrably significant and enduring pieces of architecture, typical of certain architectural schools or typologies. Most of these buildings have become icons of their own style, and cities, and even countries.

The designers tried to make a selection that spanned history (the earliest pagodas were built 2,000 years ago, the ’Gherkin’ was completed in 2004), that covered a range of human activities (from living to working to crossing rivers), and represented a number of architectural approaches (from honouring history like the neo-medieval Scottish church to the unique invention of Utzon’s opera house).

Like any game of lists, no list can ever be complete or perfect; everyone who loves architecture would make their own unique selection. Hopefully, people can use this selection as a starting point to construct a mental version of their own celebratory ’splash’. »

For more information…

(Source: Canadian Architect and RIBA 175th anniversary website)

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