Alternative Histories

A new exhibition curated by Jantje Engels and Marius Grootveld, in collaboration with Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation

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.

Takeshi Hayatsu

Hayatsu Architects: On abbé Laugier's Frontispiece for Essai Sur L'Architecture, 1753  

Each office was assigned a different drawing from the collection of Drawing Matter – from the from the frontispiece of Abbé Laugier's 1753 Essai sur l'architecture, to Erik Gunnar Asplund's 1917 plan for the Villa Snellman, to the 1970 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 also 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. A large white van then crisscrossed the UK and the Continent to collect these enigmatic objects to be exhibited in London.

Sergison Bates

Sergison Bates (Stephen Bates): On Cadbury Brown's Royal College of Art Extension, 1972

Seen together, the models reveal a spectrum of interpretations of historical reference, insights into design methodology and the intertwined processes of thinking and representation.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, both kaleidoscopic and undefinable, where there is always room for more and different points of reference, and expansion.


Bardakhanova Champkins: On Virgilio Marchi's Cinema Odeon, Livorno, 1940 


Hugh Strange Architects: On Carlo Scarpa's studies for a theatre, 1970

Talks & Events

Saturday 23 March, 2pm

Models of Translation

On interpretation, imitation and the life and death of models in the architectural process

Chaired by Eleanor Beaumont and Andrew Clancy, with contributions from exhibitors including Roz Barr, Stephen Bates, Adam Caruso, Philip Christou, Laura Linsi and David Kohn

Saturday 30 March, 2pm

The Comfort Zone

On the motivations behind and interest in architectural history among architects

Chaired by Maarten Delbeke and Elli Mosayebi, with contributions from exhibitors and historians

Sunday 7 April, 2pm



The number of architectural festivals is increasing exponentially but the question remains as to what purpose this proliferation of biennales and triennials serve. This discussion brings together the curatorial teams of five festivals – all opening this year — to discuss the changing mandate and potential of the architectural biennale model.

With contributions from, Francisco Sanin & Beth Hughes (Seoul), Adrian Lahoud (Sharjah), Éric Lapierre (Lisbon), Matthew Dalziel, Maria Smith & Phineas Harper (Oslo), and Sepake Angiama (Chicago)

Alternative Histories poster

More information

Click here to see the models and drawings as they emerge.