British Architects, Google Arts & Culture Launch Digital Partnership

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the first UK organization dedicated to architecture to publish its collection on Google Arts & Culture.

One of the largest, oldest, and most significant architectural collections in the world has formed a new digital collaboration with Google Arts & Culture. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is the first UK organization dedicated to architecture to partner with the online platform, which uses technology to share unique collections and cultural institutions with a global audience.

A specially curated selection of 15 online stories is available to view for free on the Google Arts & Culture platform. The stories range from the creation of Central Park in New York, modernist buildings in Ghana to the Picturesque movement, and from a century of Olympic buildings to a historic tour of key architectural landmarks in Venice.

RIBA architecture
From the Power of Perspective collection, “Design for a metropolitan cathedral” by architect Etienne-Louis Boulee, 1782 (Credit: RIBA Collections)

Featured highlights from the RIBA’s collections include original drawings by Ernö Goldfinger, Sir Charles Barry (Big Ben), Étienne-Louis Boullée and Toyo Ito. Featured projects include work by Walter Gropius, Pier Luigi Nervi, Kenzo Tange, Jane Drew & Maxwell Fry, Zaha Hadid and Diller Scofidio & Renfro. Early photography of New York and Venice (Carlo Ponti, Carlo Naya and Alinari Fratelli) from the 1860s onwards is included. A photo of the Louvre in Paris under construction in 1846 can be viewed up close, revealing extraordinary levels of detail.

The curated selection illustrates the international scope of RIBA’s Collection, spanning the Renaissance to the present day. It includes some never-before-exhibited objects that showcase more unusual parts of the archive, such as landscape designer Sir Humphrey Repton’s drawings and business card, private photographs from architects, portraits, parks and garden designs.

RIBA architecture
Palazzetto dello Sport, Rome/precast concrete roof under construction, 1952 (Credit: RIBA Collections)

“Our new partnership with Google Arts & Culture creates a great opportunity to inspire and delight a global audience and to showcase our unique treasures,” said RIBA CEO Alan Vallance. “We look forward to curating more online experiences and exhibitions, to illustrate the impact and importance of design and architecture, throughout the ages and around the world.”

“This is the first step in what we hope will be an inspiring architectural journey with RIBA on Google Arts & Culture,” said Amit Sood, Director, Google Arts & Culture. “Through our collaboration, we are proud to help share their incredible stories and resources with architecture lovers and aspiring students around the world. RIBA has one of the world’s leading architecture collections and inspires and supports global architectural talent as we look to designing the future.”

RIBA’s opening Google Arts & Culture program features:

  • Revealing The RIBA Collection: RIBA has collected architecture drawings, photographs, books, and artifacts for almost 200 years. Take a glimpse into the collection of over 4 million objects
  • Venice – City Of Architectural Awe: To mark the 17th Venice Architecture Biennale opening in 2021, RIBA shares its collection items to present a unique architectural tour of the “floating city” both past and present.

    Rafael Moneo
    Murcia Town Hall by Rafael Moneo, Murcia, 2012 (Credit: David Cabrera, RIBA Collections)
  • Rafael Moneo: To celebrate the most recent recipient of the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement award, this story looks at five key buildings from the Spanish architect’s 60-year career.
  • Civic Architecture In Modern Ghana: Explore six civic buildings from the Republic of Ghana, from the time of late imperialism to present day by architects including Jane Drew, Maxwell Fry, Lindsey Drake, Sir Denis Lasdun and a practice still running today, James Cubitt & Partners. Sir David Adjaye’s designs for a new Cathedral for Accra are included.
  • RIBA architecture
    Bow Bridge, Central Park, New York, 1860 (Credit/ RIBA Collections)

    Central Park: Discover how the heart of Manhattan and lungs of New York City came about through a unique collaboration between an architect and a farmer. Highlights include original photos from the 1860s of the park’s first bridges.

  • A Century Of Olympian Architecture: Travel the world and experience the spectacular stadiums that have been built for past Olympic and Paralympic Games. Highlights include photographs of the 1936 Berlin “Reichssportfeld,” the 1960 Palazzo dello Sport in Rome, the 1972 Munich Stadium by Otto Frei, key commissions for Barcelona in 1992 and interview footage with Kengo Kuma, designers of the Tokyo Stadium for July 2021.
  • People And Parks: There is more to a park than a simple stroll. Discover how public parks bring emotional well-being through congregation, creativity, and commemoration, featuring details from Gaudi’s Park Güell in Barcelona, memorial parks in Hiroshima, and the new Northala Fields park outside London.

    RIBA architecture
    Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London/south transept and water tower, 1867 (Credit: Horatio Nelson King, RIBA Collections)
  • Urban Parks: From Industrial Wasteland To Palace Pavilions: Explore the history behind urban parks from around the world, exploring their location and their architectural structures. Millennium Park, Chicago; Maria Luisa Park, Seville; High Line Park, New York; and Sefton Park, Liverpool.
  • Planning The Picturesque: This story takes you on a scenic trail to experience the aesthetically delightful but highly choreographed “Picturesque” movement. Featuring work by You+Pea.
  • Architectural Style And Media: What makes a style? Explore how popular culture and media impact architectural styles from the Renaissance to present day. With contemporary contributions by Space Popular and featuring the exhibition Freestyle – Architectural Adventures in Mass Media from RIBA’s Architecture Gallery in London.
  • The Power Of Perspective: This story traces how perspective in architectural drawing has been used across 500 years. With contemporary contributions by Sam Jacob Studio.

    RIBA collection
    Habitat warehouse, Wallingford, Oxfordshire/ children playing on the sculpture by Eduardo Paolozzi, 1974 (Credit: John Donat, RIBA Collections)
  • The Architecture Of Modern Play: Find out how the 20th century saw a surge in new thinking about design for children’s play. Featuring recent work from Assemble and Simon Terrill.
  • Beyond Bauhaus – Chapter One: When Britain Became Modern: On the centenary of the opening of Germany’s most famous art school in 2019, RIBA’s exhibition “Beyond Bauhaus” looked afresh at the influence of three notable Bauhaus teachers on the modern movement in Britain. With 360˚photography of the exhibition from RIBA’s Architecture Gallery.
  • Beyond Bauhaus – Chapter Two: Designing The Modern Home: On the centenary of the opening of Germany’s most famous art school in 2019, RIBA’s exhibition “Beyond Bauhaus” revisited the origin of the modern home in Britain. With 360˚photography of the exhibition from RIBA’s Architecture Gallery.
  • Royal Institute Of British Architects: The Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body and the custodian of one of the world’s oldest and largest architectural collection. Since 1834, it has advocated for excellence in architecture. This feature presents a range of activity by RIBA, working on behalf of architects and architecture.

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