Jan Kaplický Drawings

Front Members' Room 28/2/2015 - 27/3/2015

Exhibitions are open Monday to Friday 10:00–19:00, Saturday 10:00–15:00.


Jan Kaplický Drawings presents work by the Czech architect Jan Kaplický (1937-2009) – a visionary designer with a passion for drawing as a means of discovering, describing and constructing. Through drawing he presented beguiling architectural imagery of the highest order.

The earliest projects date from the early 1970s when, for Kaplický, drawing was essentially a speculative pursuit. Whilst his days were spent working for other architects, during evenings and weekends he designed and drew at home. His architecture at this time was the plan and the finely detailed cross-section. Never satisfied, he constantly developed and honed his graphic language, perfecting the technique of the cutaway isometric which became his trademark.

In 1979 Kaplický founded Future Systems with David Nixon. Clients included NASA, for whom they produced design studies for the International Space Station. Ten years later a new partnership with Amanda Levete prompted Future Systems to build – and with building came a new creative discipline. The Media Centre at Lord’s Cricket Ground, winner of the 1999 Stirling Prize, was the last project that Kaplický drew entirely by hand. From then on, formal drawings were done with computers by others and he took delight in sketching.

Kaplický was one of the world’s last great architectural and artistic draughtsmen, upholding a heritage that has its roots in the early Renaissance. If this remarkable body of work has one central message, it is that drawing as an art and a discipline must not be forgotten.

Curated by David Jenkins
Exhibition design by AL_A

Supported by: the Kaplický Centre, Oaks Prague, Vorwerk & Co., Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová, City Hall of Prague, Czech Centre London and The Embassy of the Czech Republic in London


Richard Brine: Defensive Structures in the British Landscape

AA Bar 28/2/2015 - 27/3/2015

Exhibitions are open Monday to Friday 10:00–19:00, Saturday 10:00–15:00.

Our countryside and coastline are populated with an enigmatic and eccentric collection of buildings that are now nearly 75 years old. Partly forgotten and often ignored, the defensive structures built across Britain in 1940 and 1941 represent and record an extraordinary achievement. In the space of just a short number of months thousands of these buildings were constructed in an attempt to prepare for the very real threat of invasion.

A Directorate of Fortifications and Works drew up a range of designs that could be built quickly and easily around the country. These designs were ingenious and functional, but also possessed a sculptural sensibility. The fact that thousands survive points to the robustness of their construction yet there was also a degree of localism and amateurism to these buildings, with characters shaped by local materials and the abilities of local soldiers, labourers and volunteers to turn the designs into hard reality.

These small, obscure buildings are poignant reminders of the complexities of identity and national character, now in increasing vulnerability after many years of service. Nature is doing her best to reclaim these buildings, juxtaposing their concrete shells with swallowing sand and choking undergrowth. They serve, then, as metaphors of both victory and gradual decline at one and the same time.

Richard Brine has not sought to simply catalogue or document these buildings out of a sense of historical duty but to concentrate on their particular resonance within a specific local context. Whether on the Norfolk coast or the Oxfordshire countryside, the images record individual stories that bring together aspects of architecture, planning and local endeavour.

Text by Dominic Bradbury

Contact details

Head of Exhibitions:
Vanessa Norwood
T: +44 (0)20 7887 4031

Public Programme



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