The ‘Social’ is an exhibition with a difference. It puts people at the heart of architecture by actively engaging visitors in a dynamic installation, communicating the ethos of our practice using digital technology and continuing the conversation on social media platforms. It invites people to meet, debate and hang out in the space in a more informal way than the architecture of the RIBA’s fine dining restaurant typically allows. Conventional modes of exhibiting architecture through complicated models and photographs of pristine empty buildings are overturned in favour of quirky totem pole signage, super graphics, filmed footage, vox pops, and take away postcards to convey the collective voice of our studio.
Visitors are invited to recline in replica inflatable versions of the communal seating created for Coventry University Hub, (affectionately known as ‘the dog bowls’) or sit in the pods designed for desk-based group study (more commonly referred to as ‘the kennels’).
We have collaborated closely with digital agency The Neighbourhood, artist Nik Ramage and maker Maid in Barnet to create a programme of exhibits including a hyperlapse journey around some of our projects; a mailbox asking visitors to physically post their own comments; deck chairs encouraging visitors to put their feet up and languish on the grass motif carpet underfoot, whilst some of our most prominent built projects are reinterpreted as scatter cushions to evoke an atmosphere of the domestic and extend the dialogue about how architecture is perceived, appropriated and loved.
We believe that the future of architecture lies in recognising and cherishing the value of the 'social’. The ‘social’ drives our basic human need to live, work and play together and forms the foundation stone for architecture and what we value. In our studio the ‘social’ forms neighbourhoods and communities; creates space for learning and research; shapes ambitious transport projects and builds environments for working collectively and collaboratively.
Hawkins\Brown would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has contributed to the exhibition, which coincides with the publication of a supplement to the Architectural Review’s June issue on neighbourhoods, entitled ‘Hawkins\Brown Social’.