Richard Rogers @ Royal Academy of Art

Richard Rogers RA Inside Out“, I meant to visit this exhibition ages ago.
I was thinking about visiting it when Hubbie was away in Italy. Why I didn’t? I can’t remember.
Anyway, the urge was quietly nagging inside me. So, the injury stopped me from knitting, I thought ‘What could be any better excuse to see the exhibition?’

The summer was still lingering in London.
The sun had long lost the intensity of the last heat wave.
Still, Central London basked in a golden tint of the afternoon sun under the cloudless sky…


In the courtyard at Royal Academy of Art, a 1:1 scale model of Sir Rogers’s prefabricated structure was exhibited…


Comparing with traditional constuction methods, Sir Rogers’s system takes less time and money to erect. Definitely, it is one of the solutions for the permanent shortage of affordable housings. I would love to see this joyfully coloured houses start to sprout all over Britain.

The actual exhibition was housed in Burlington Gardens which used to be Museum of Mankind until 1997.


In the first room, a calm voice of Sir Rogers greets the visitors…


I saw him once at Victoria & Albert Museum.
He was sitting in the garden, reading a newspaper.  I remembered how he appeared striking in his trademark fuchsia pink shirt. With his deeply tanned face and silvery hair, he looked just wonderful.

I paid homage to Sir Rogers in my own way…


By wearing a pair of Monkee Genes in fuchsia pink.

The second & third rooms were comprised with his past projects both at home and abroad…


It may sound inappropriate but his buildings are FUN.
The colours and forms, they are uplifting and elating. It’s certainly unconventional yet it acts like vitamins which inject energy into its surrounding area.

Some traditionalists harbour hostility towards modern architecture.
Most famously, Prince Charles and Sir Rogers were at loggerheads over the modern buildings in London in the mid 80’s. And in their arguments, they both scored a valid point.
London’s cityscape reflects the richness of the history which both the Londoners and tourists admire and enjoy everyday. At the same time, the change of modern lifestyle demands a new kind of environment – a large open plan office space with ‘floor to ceiling’ glazing is a typical example.
As long as aesthetically pleasing, I think they can live side by side without morphing into each other. The contrast between the old and new architecture will be stimulating and even beneficial if it is done sympathetically to each other.

Beautifully inked line-drawings on the wall brought back the memory of my student days…


It was a pre-CAD time. And all of the drawings were drawn with draft pens in various sizes. The thickness of the line represented the distance from the viewer. I loved the subtlety if not the delicacy of the method.

Another thing I enjoyed was the models on display…



Lowering myself and peeping into it through the ground level helped me to imagine how dramatic it would be if I were there in person.

The fourth room was filled with LEGOs…


Don’t they look great?
Along the Thames, colourful skyscrapers thrusting towards the sky…


A full of imagination & unhindered creativity. That’s what we need.

The last time I touched LEGO was a light year ago…


Playing shouldn’t be a self-conscious thing.
However, I found myself being hesitant. How was I like when I was young and playing with LEGO?
Being spontaneous didn’t come very easy.
How boring being a grown-up is!

The last exhibit I saw was a model of Centre Georges Pompidou


I took my mom and aunt there in 1995.
My mom asked me innocently if the building was still under construction. Oh, bless her…

The exhibition wasn’t just showing architectural artefacts…


The newspaper clippings as well as the correspondence Sir Rogers exchanged with the past governments & opposition politicians were accompanying the exhibits which helped the visitors to examine the projects broadly and deepen the understanding.

After the exhibition, I sat at the cafe outside…


A slice of praline cake & decaf latte to refuel my depleted brain cells…


About the issue of modernist vs traditionalist, I am still ambivalent.
I hope this exhibition will be a catalyst to start a frank discussion about this rather thorny topic.
After all, we want a happy city in which EVERY ONE can thrive and live in harmony…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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