Radical Rooms: Power of the Plan review – the house that Bess built

Riba, London A playful exhibition puts three British buildings co-created by women centre stage, complete with dancing floor plans The collective effort that goes into any building is underplayed, the roles of craftspeople, builders, assistants and clients – co-creators, often women – are overlooked. The fixed and the eternal is favoured over the transient and the mobile, exteriors over interiors, masonry over fabrics. One shouldn’t assign gender roles to building materials, but as that is in effect what was done in the past – stonecutting for boys, weaving for girls – historians’ privileging of the hard stuff again masculinises architecture. Radical Rooms, an exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects (Riba), sets out to challenge these perceptions. It focuses on three houses commissioned and designed wholly or in part by women, and describes them from the inside out. It focuses on the floor plan – that is to say the arrangement of internal rooms – more than external form. Other projects relevant to the show’s themes, using material from Riba’s magnificent and underseen drawings collection, are also shown. Continue reading...

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