icw. Drawing Matter & the Architecture Foundation, London, Brussels & Dublin, 2017 - 2020

Alternative Histories is a collective project that attempts to distil a pre-Albertian and post-individualist architecture for today. The project is a spiritual successor to the Building upon Building publication where in 2015 we asked a group of European offices to extend a canonical building inhabiting the mindset of its original architect. The themes were brought back to life in conversations with the Drawing Matter archives, a collection of architectural drawings built by Niall Hobhouse over the last 25 years and whose content spans five centuries. A first-hand encounter with one of these drawings is made ever richer by the history, conversation and even the rumours around its making. Each drawing tells a different story about the relationship between the architect and the project. 85 of these drawings were selected and distributed to an equal number of mostly European architecture practices, inviting them to imagine an alternative history for designs that had been developed in the past.The result is a direct dialogue with a historical predecessor, far removed from the everyday considerations defined by economics, regulations or clients.

Working in tandem across time, the offices conceived models based on the archival drawings, taking the next logical step in the design process. Presented as a whole, the drawings and the models become part of a new constellation of ideas, making an argument that is larger than the individual project.

The resulting 85 models clearly display cohesive convictions and ambitions among the participants. At the same time they maintain a wonderful diversity in their approach and execution. Above all, they reveal a great joy in making through their outspoken sensitivity to materials. A collaboration between two architects – one from the past and one from today – requires a leap of faith. It asks one to inhabit an entirely different strand of thought, and to find a way of working that is not strictly bound to a personal dogmatic formal principle. The attitude towards process is central, and ultimately the project is as much about what happened within these offices as they conversed with the past as it is about the finished objects. In this time of relentless professionalism, it is comforting to know there is still a place for philosophical questions, and a space to develop new thoughts in the process.

CURATION: Jantje Engels & Marius Grootveld icw. Drawing Matter, Somerset & the Architecture Foundation, London
COMMITTEE: Niall Hobhouse, Ellis Woodman, Jantje Engels, Marius Grootveld
PRODUCTION: Sarah Handelman (Drawing Matter), Cédric Libert (CIVA), Tania Garduño (CIVA), Colum O'Riorda (IARC), Simon Lincoln (IARC)
ARCHIVE DRAWINGS: Drawing Matter Collection (all copyrights the Architects or the Estates of the Architect)
CATALOGUE DESIGN: Studio Mathias Clottu, London
EXHIBITION TYPOGRAPHY: Studio Christopher Victor, London
PHOTOGRAPHY: Guus Kaandorp, Amsterdam (objects), Thomas Adank, London (closeups), Craig Stevens (drawings)

CONTRIBUTORS: 2A+P/A, 31/44, AMUNT, Bardakhanova Champkins, baukuh, BeL, Bernd Schmutz, Bosshard, Tavor, van der Ploeg and Vihervaara, Bovenbouw, Carmody Groarke, Caruso St John & Siw Thomas, Charles Holland, Christ & Gantenbein, Clancy Moore, Conen Sigl, David Kohn, dePaor, De Smet Vermeulen, De Vylder Vinck Taillieu, Descloux Engelschall, Dierendonckblancke, Doorzon, Dow Jones, Dyvik Kahlen, Eagles of Architecture, East, ECTV, Edelaar Mosayebi Inderbitzin, EM2N, Fala, Flores i Prats, Florian Beigel Architects, GAFPA, General Architecture, Gustav Appell, Hans van der Heijden, Happel Cornelisse Verhoeven, Havana, Hayatsu, Hild und K, Hugh Strange, Johan Celsing, Johansen Skovsted, Klara Bindl & Professor Lehnerer, Knapkiewicz & Fickert, Lilith Ronner van Hooijdonk, Loeliger Strub, Lütjens Padmanabhan, Marie-José Van Hee, Max Otto Zitzelsberger, Mikael Bergquist, Monadnock, muf, Multerer, Murmuur, Nikolaus Bienefeld, noAarchitecten, Noreile Breen, NP2F, Oda Pälmke, Office Winhov, Olivier Goethals, OMMX, ONO, Point Supreme, Raamwerk, RLOALUARNAD, Robbrecht en Daem, Roz Barr, Rural Urban Framework, Ryan W Kennihan, Sam Jacob, Schneider Türtscher, Sergison Bates London, Sergison Bates Zurich, Smith & Taylor, Stephen Taylor, Taka, Thys Vermeulen, Tomas Dirrix & Boris de Beijer, Tony Fretton, Traumnovelle, Veldwerk, Wim Goes, Witherford Watson Mann

CLIENT: Drawing Matter, Somerset
LOCATION: Cork Street Galleries, London, United Kingdom, 2019, CIVA, Brussels, Belgium, 2019, Irish Architectural Archive, Dublin, Ireland, 2020
STATUS: Realised
CATALOGUE ISBN: 978-1-9161522-0-5

VELDWERK TEAM: Jantje Engels, Marius Grootveld, Jazmin Charalambous, Julia Cramer