Charles Holland Architects — Radical Rooms

Radical Rooms

Curating and designing a re-appraisal of the history of housing

Radical Rooms was an exhibition commissioned by the Royal Institute of British Architects for their Architecture Gallery at Portland Place. A collaboration between CHA and artist Di Mainstone, it re-examined the role of women in domestic design.

Spanning nearly 500 years, the exhibition was anchored in three domestic buildings from the 16th, 18th and 20th centuries: Hardwick Hall, A la Ronde and the Hopkins House. Women played a significant role in the commissioning, design and construction of each of these projects, but their input has generally been downplayed in architectural history.

Hardwick Hall is an Elizabethan mansion built for lavish entertaining by Bess of Hardwick. A la Ronde is a sixteen-sided Regency cottage conceived by two cousins, Jane and Mary Parminter. Hopkins House, designed by Patty and Michael Hopkins in the mid-1970s as both their home and office, utilised mass-produced and industrial components.

Charles Holland Architect’s design of the exhibition itself is by far the best I have seen in this space.

Edwin Heathcote

The Financial Times

The exhibition took the form of an abstract grid of connected rooms defined by curtains and carpets and referencing patterns derived from the three houses. Animated by projections and audio tracks written and choreographed by Di, each room brought to vivid life the personalities involved in their design. Bess of Hardwick, Jane and Mary Parminter and Patty Hopkins became the inhabitants of the spaces, telling their stories through music, dance and spoken word.

The exhibition also included archive drawings and photographs from the RIBA Collections which explored the relationship between power and the domestic plan. Together, the three elements – the physical installation, the projections and the archive material – formed a multi-sensory and immersive experience exploring the relationship of houses to power.

Charles Holland Architects — Radical Rooms