A Great Britain, in glorious colour

Late October in London; grey and raining. We needed an injection of colour so the Bisqit crew popped down to the Royal Academy to cast our eyes over Richard Rogers’ retrospective exhibition.

The show's title, “Inside Out”, relates to Rogers’ functionalist approach to design, best demonstrated by the iconic Pompidou Centre in Paris. Dubbed “Bowellism” by some critics in the late 70s, this style focussed on creating uninterrupted interior space by relocating the buildings’ services to the exterior.

I can only applaud his efforts to create clean, changeable environments for 3d designers like myself to use as a blank canvas. This bold approach instantly became Rogers’ trademark along with the strong use of colour across exposed features to alter their perception. Affecting cities on this scale is a task that carries with it a huge responsibility regarding the impact on society. Inside Out walks us through some of Rogers’ major projects with the clear aim of positioning him as a purveyor of inclusive and democratic design, with the creation of civil spaces at the heart of his principles.

Such a distinct brand of architecture has won Rogers praise but also much criticism throughout his career. To me, a cabinet filled with major architectural awards, the creation of landmarks in their own right and ongoing global commissions paints a clear picture of success. Does his architecture deliver on his optimistic ideologies? Maybe not to the extent I’d personally like them to, but I think his vision and passion to affect change is admirable.

Rogers’ quoting within the exhibition of the Athenian citizens oath “I shall leave the city not less but more beautiful than I found it” reads as a statement of intent but also as a call to action for others. The final room of the show, dedicated to visitors’ contributions, is absolutely plastered from floor to ceiling with ideas...I’d say his message has got through.