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Opening this week: Two exhibitions explore how architects can change the world

Two major exhibitions open in London this week exploring how architects can change the world in different ways.

Creation from Catastrophe, which opens on 27 January at the Architecture Gallery of the Royal Institute of British Architects, will explore how destruction and devastation present unique opportunities to radically rethink environments.

With a focus on architects as diverse as OMA, Toyo Ito, Sir Christopher Wren and Elemental – whose founder Alejandro Aravena was awarded the Pulitzer Prize earlier this month – the exhibition will look at “whether we are facing a paradigm shift in the way that cities and communities recover from destruction – from top down planning to a ground up approach.”

Ten projects will be highlighted through a selection of drawings, photographs, film, books and models. The exhibition will include masterplans to reconfigure London after the Great Fire of 1666 to contemporary responses to earthquakes and tsunamis in countries such as Pakistan, Japan, Chile, Portugal and Nepal.

“The exhibition will weave a narrative about the shift from a tabula rasa, or blank slate, approach created by a sole author, to a more collaborative way of working that relies on local expertise, materials and community spirit,” said RIBA in a statement. “The latter approach inevitably results in an altered role for architectural authorship with architects acting as community facilitators, educators, builders and designers.”

As well as the challenge of rebuilding residences and infrastructure, the exhibition will look at how leisure facilities and public space can be created out of catastrophe.

One of the projects highlighted is the ‘Rebuild by Design’ scheme in Hoboken, New Jersey, USA. Eighty per cent of the city was submerged underwater by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Dutch architectural practice OMA won a design competition to create a greenbelt of parkland to soak up excess water.

Creation from Catastrophe, has been designed by London studio Aberrant Architecture and curated by freelance curator Jes Fernie. It will run until 24 April 2016.

The second exhibition to open in London this week is Mavericks, Breaking the Mould of British Architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts in Piccadilly.

Running from 26 January to 20 April, the exhibition will explore the careers of 12 ‘maverick’ British architects – including James Stirling, Charles Henry Holden and Zaha Hadid.

“Although mavericks appear at various moments in the history of architecture and in many different places, architecture is not a discipline that allows much room for them,” said the exhibition organisers in a statement.

“Architects are always beholden to their clients, while architecture’s inherent functionality demands a building at least stand up and provide some sort of usable space. The maverick architect, therefore, always runs the risk of having little work. This is what makes them so interesting.”

Talks organised by the museum will explore whether young architects today can be mavericks in an increasingly risk-averse building industry and how the industry may change when the age of the signature-style ‘starchitect’ comes to an end.

Architecture  design  London  RIBA  Royal Academy of Arts 
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Two major exhibitions open in London this week exploring how architects can change the world in different ways. Creation from Catastrophe, which opens on 27 January at the Architecture Gallery of the Royal Institute of British Architects, will explore how destruction and devastation present unique opportunities to radically rethink environments. With a focus on architects as diverse as OMA, Toyo Ito, Sir Christopher Wren and Elemental – whose founder Alejandro
CLD,VAT,HAM,AAC,ARC,DES,DEV
Dutch architectural practice OMA, who are featured in the RIBA exhibition, proposed a new park to soak up excess water in New Jersey following Hurricane Sandy
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