The RIBA has commissioned emerging London-based architects APPARATA (Nicholas Lobo Brennan & Astrid Smitham) to design a site-specific installation in the entrance to the RIBA’s landmark building at 66 Portland Place. The installation forms a complement to the major exhibition featuring the artist Pablo Bronstein in the Architecture Gallery, while acting as a prominent sculptural and functional object within the RIBA Foyer. In this installation, APPARATA reframes an understanding of classical architecture, charting its restrictions and opportunities through the use of contemporary materials and construction technologies. The installation expresses the practice’s belief that classical architecture is a progressive force, associated with leaps in human knowledge, the escape from ignorance and superstition, and the birth of democracy. Since the early twentieth century, ‘Classicism’ has been used to mean conflicting things, from suggesting retrograde nostalgia, to supposedly being the only way to make architecture both relevant and popular for the general population today. Classical architecture itself can be a powerful critical tool; however, a twenty-first century classicism has to include contradiction, tension, motion. Today there are few contemporary architects we could identify as working in a classical style. But challenging architectural definitions allows us to move away from the acknowledgment of only one particular history, to include a cultural expression of building which continues to be persistently used in everyday life.
Supported by Sto Werkstatt