Alternative Histories

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.

Taken as a whole, the responses challenge the facile understanding of concepts of reference, history or influence as drivers of contemporary architectural thinking. From methods to materials, the project opens up not only new ways of looking at the past, but also a series of conversations about how architects today shape their present.

The project was co-curated by Jantje Engels and Marius Grootveld in collaboration with Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation, London. It was first presented at Cork Street, London and then CIVA, Brussels. In October 2020, the models made their way to the Irish Architectural Archive for the Dublin iteration of the exhibition.

Two publications have been produced to accompany the touring exhibition. Together, they represent the full scope of the project, combining model photography and reference drawings, with reflections by a selection of participants.

Read reflections on the models by participating practices here.

Dublin models

Paul Dillon Architects
David Leech Architects
GKMP architects
Grafton Architects
Elizabeth Hatz
Níall McLaughlin Architects
Steve Larkin Architects
O’Donnell + Tuomey
t o b Architect

London and Brussels models

31/44 Architects
Atelier Tomas Dirrix
Bardakhanova Champkins
BeL Sozietät für Architektur
Bernd Schmutz Architekten
Bosshard, Tavor, van der Ploeg and Vihervaara
Carmody Groarke
Caruso St John & Siw Thomas
Charles Holland Architects
Christ & Gantenbein
Clancy Moore Architects
Conen Sigl Architekten
David Kohn Architects
De Smet Vermeulen architecten
Descloux Engelschall
Dierendonckblancke Architecten
Doorzon Interieurarchitecten
Dow Jones Architects
Dyvik Kahlen Architects
Eagles of Architecture
East Architecture
Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin Architekten
fala atelier
Flores i Prats Architects
Philip Christou
General Architecture
Gustav Appell Arkitektkontor
Hans van der Heijden Architect
Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven Architecten
Havana architectuur
Hayatsu Architects
Hild und K Architekten
Hugh Strange Architects
De Vylder Vinck Taillieu
Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor
Johansen Skovsted Arkitekter
Lilith Ronner van Hooijdonk
Loeliger Strub Architektur
Lütjens Padmanabhan Architekten
Marie-José Van Hee
Max Otto Zitzelsberger
Mikael Bergquist
muf architecture/art
Multerer Architekten
Murmuur Architecten
Nikolaus Bienefeld
Noreile Breen
NP2F Architectes
Oda Pälmke Architektin
Office Winhov
Olivier Goethals
ONO architectuur
Point Supreme Architects
Klara Bindl
Robbrecht en Daem
Roz Barr Architects
Ryan W. Kennihan Architects
Sam Jacob Studio
Schneider Türtscher
Stephen Bates
Jonathan Sergison
Stephen Taylor Architects
Studio Thys Vermeulen
TAKA architects
Smith and Taylor Architects
Tony Fretton Architects
Veldwerk Architecten
Wim Goes Architectuur
Witherford Watson Mann
Knapkiewicz & Fickert Architekten
Rural Urban Framework