Acknowledging that architecture is a corpus of inherited ideas, Alternative Histories invited more than 80 contemporary practices in the UK and Europe to imagine an exchange with architects from the past. Each office was assigned a different drawing from the collection of Drawing Matter – from the frontispiece of the abbé Laugier’s 1753 Essai sur l’architecture, a plan of the Villa Snellman, to studies for a theatre by Carlo Scarpa. The architects were then tasked with making a model that not only responded to what they saw, but envisioned an alternative future for the original drawing while adhering to the constraints of the project: although comprising different materials and scales, the models had to be transportable, and their footprints had to fit within the surface area of the historic drawings. Recently a large, white van crisscrossed the UK and the Continent to collect these enigmatic objects to be exhibited in London. Seen together, the models reveal a spectrum of interpretations of historical reference, insights into design methodology and the intertwined processes of thinking and representation.
At once an exhibition of new architecture in Europe and an enquiry into how it is now being made, Alternative Histories presents a shared past and present that is kaleidoscopic and undefinable, where there is always room for more and different points of reference, and expansion.
Saturday 23 March, 2 pm
Models of Translation
On interpretation, imitation and the life and death of models in architectural process
Chaired by Andrew Clancy (Clancy Moore Architects, Kingston University) and Eleanor Beaumont (Architectural Review)
Confirmed participants to date: Roz Barr and Cornelius Braam, Stephen Bates, Irina Bardakhanova and Nicholas Champkins, Mikael Bergquist, Biba Dow and Alun Jones, William Burges and Stephen Davies, Adam Caruso, Johan Celsing, Philip Christou, Sylvie Cosyns, Doorzoon (Stefanie Everaert and Caroline Lateur), Tony Fretton, Matthias Haber, Sam Jacob, Johansen Skovsted Arkitekter (Panuela Aasted, Emilie Boye Kjær, Joel Brynielsson and Niklas Lindelöw), David Kohn, Laura Linsi and Roland Reema, Thomas Padmanabhan, Bernd Schmutz, Tijl Vanmeirhaeghe, Traumnovelle (Léone Drapeaud, Manuel León Fanjul and Johnny Leya), and Jan Peter Wingender
Saturday 30 March, 2 pm
The Comfort Zone
On the motivations behind and interest in architectural history among architects
Chaired by Maarten Delbeke and Elli Mosayebi
Confirmed participants to date: Roz Barr and Cornelius Braam, William Burges and Stephen Davies, Tony Fretton, Sam Jacob, Laura Linsi and Roland Reema, Dirk Somers, Jan Vermeulen and Paul Vermeulen
Sunday 7 April, 2 pm
On the changing mandate and potential of the architectural biennial
With contributions from, Francisco Sanin and Beth Hughes (Seoul), Adrian Lahoud (Sharjah), Éric Lapierre (Lisbon), Matthew Dalziel, Maria Smith and Phineas Harper (Oslo), and Sepake Angiama (Chicago)