Art & Architecture Conference

The Royal Institution, London

6 October 2017


The full-day conference will be hosted by Alice Rawsthorn with:

Alice Rawsthorn is an award-winning design critic whose columns for the New York Times have been syndicated worldwide. She is the author of several books on design, including the critically acclaimed Hello World: Where Design Meets Life (2013). Her next book, A Field Guide to Design, a compilation of her By Design columns for frieze, will be published in spring 2018. 

Sir David Chipperfield and Tim Marlow, Artistic Director, Royal Academy of Arts, will be in conversation about David Chipperfield Architects' masterplan for the Royal Academy's Piccadilly home. Chipperfield's design links two Grade II*-listed buildings — Burlington House, the Palladian mansion that has been the Academy's home since 1869, and 6 Burlington Gardens, directly to its north — through a light-touch development that will revitalize the site. The extension is set to open in 2018, to celebrate the institution's 250th anniversary. The conversation will also touch upon Chipperfield's other museum projects, which include — among others — The Hepworth Wakefield; Turner Contemporary, Margate; Neues Museum, Berlin; and Museo Jumex, Mexico City; as well as the ongoing renovation of Mies van de Rohe's iconic Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin (due to complete in 2019).

With offices in London, Berlin, Milan and Shanghai, David Chipperfield Architects has worked on numerous international cutlural, residential, commercial and civic projects since its founding in 1985.

Tim Marlow joined the Royal Academy in 2014 and leads the creative programming, which includes exhibitions, learning, architecture and publishing. He is also an award-winning radio and television broadcaster.

Thomas Heatherwick, designer and founder of Heatherwick Studio, will be in conversation with Mark Coetzee, the Executive Director and Chief Curator of the recently inaugurated Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) in Cape Town. Occupying over 9,500 sqaure metres across nine floors on the site of a former grain silo that was once the tallest building in sub-Saharan Africa, Zeitz MOCAA is the first major museum dedicated to contemporary art on the African continent. Heatherwick Studio's design for the building makes use of the silos' industrial form, carving a central circulation space from the cellular concrete structures to create a cathedral-like atrium. The non-profit institution is a partnership between Jochen Zeitz (the German former CEO of Puma, whose extensive collection) and the V&A Waterfront (a mixed use development along Cape Town's historic harbour) and is part of a new flourishing of the city's art scene. The pair will discuss the museum and its ambitions to redraw South Africa's cultural landscape with the award-winning design critic and frieze contributor Alice Rawsthorn.

Thomas Heatherwick founded Heatherwick Studio in 1994 to bring craft, design, architecture and urban planning together in a single workspace. The studio is currently working on approximately 25 live projects on four continents including headquarters for Google in California and London, and a new landmark for Hudon Yards, New York.

Coffee break: 11.30am-11.45am 

Artists Pablo Bronstein and Glenn Brown will talk to frieze deputy editor Amy Sherlock about their respective renovations of 17th-century homes – a terraced house on the Kent coast and a Suffolk country manor. Both drawn to the early-Georgian period, Bronstein and Brown will discuss the notion of the baroque – as art, architecture and idea – and its influence on their artistic practices.

Pablo Bronstein's drawings, installations and performances frequently use past architectures as stages for 21st-century social mores and individual fantasies. His current exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects, Portland Place, (which runs until 11 February 2018) features fifty new drawings of late-20th-century buildings constructed in a neo-Georgian style: an unloved British vernacular that reflects deeply held anxieties and aspirations around wealth and class.

Glenn Brown makes paintings and drawings that appropriate and transform art-historical images. Departing from a canon that stretches from Diego Valázquez to Jean-Honoré Fragonard to Georg Baselitz, his works stage uncanny metamorphoses in which historical apparitions merge into dystopic visions of the future. His current exhibition at Museo Stefano Bardini, Florence, (which runs until 26 October) presents new and recent work within the museum's collection of medieval and renaissance art and artefacts.

Amy Sherlock's writing about contemporary art, craft and design has appeared in numerous publications including friezeRa MagazineThe Plant and the World of Interiors. She is curator of the Frieze Art & Architecture conference.

Elizabeth Diller, founding partner of Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R), will discuss the studio's recent civic and cultural projects with Guardian architecture and design critic Oliver Wainwright. The session will consider the role of cultural projects in urban regeneration, the future of the city and the increasing dominance of technology in relation to two of DS+R's ongoing New York projects: the renovation and expansion of the Museum of Modern Art, whose new east section opened in summer 2017, and The Shed, a multi-arts centre designed by DS+R in collaboration with Rockwell Group. Set to open in 2019, The Shed is enclosed by an innovative telescoping outer shell that deploys over an adjoining plaza to double the building's footprint on demand. It will be located at 30th Street, adjacent to another of the firm's significant public projects, the High Line (opened 2015): a public park created from an abandoned elevated railroad, which now anchors Chelsea's gallery district.

Based in New York, Diller Scofidio + Renfro is an interdisciplinary design studio that integrates architecture, the visual arts and the performing arts. Recent projects include The Broad in Los Angeles and the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive at the University of California. The studio is currently working on The Mile-Long Opera to be staged along a one-mile stretch of the High Line.

Trained as an architect at the University of Cambridge and Royal College of Art, Oliver Wainwright has written extensively on architecture and design for international publications including Building Design, the Architects’ Journal, Domus and frieze. He has won awards for his in-depth reporting on the UK housing crisis and planning system. 

Lunch break: 1.15pm-2pm

Art dealer, curator and designer Axel Vervoordt, gallerist Johann König and architect Arno Brandlhuber in conversation with art critic Kirsty Bell. The panel will discuss how commercial galleries are moving beyond the white cube model with mixed-use developments in unconventional historic buildings.

The Axel Vervoordt Company spans art and antiques, interior design, real estate and contemporary art galleries in Antwerp and Hong Kong. Since 1998, the company has gradually moved to Kanaal, on the site of former 19th-century brewery and malt house close to Antwerp. The vast industrial complex is being renovated for mixed commercial and residential use and, from November 2017, will house part of the extensive collection of the Axel and May Vervoordt Foundation, as well as new spaces for Axel Vervoordt Gallery.

König Galerie was established by Johann König in 2002. In 2015, it moved to St Agnes, a former Catholic church and community centre in Kreuzberg, Berlin. The gallery complex accommodates a magazine, a publishing company, a university branch and a cafe. An iconic example of late 1960s German Brutalism, built by Werner Düttmann, the building was renovated by Arno Brandlhuber, who founded his collaborative Berlin-based practice, brandlhuber+, in 2006.

Kirsty Bell is a critic and writer living in Berlin, and author of The Artist’s House. From Workplace to Artwork, published by Sternberg Press in 2013. She is a contributing editor to frieze magazine and writes regularly for Art in America, art agenda, Mousse Magazine and Camera Austria, amongst other publications. 

Amanda Levete, founder and principal of AL_A and Dr Tristram Hunt, Director of London's Victoria & Albert Museum, will discuss Exhibition Road Quarter —the Kensington instiution's largest construction in over 100 years, which opened to the public in June. The development includes a new entrance to the museum, the world’s first porcelain courtyard and an underground gallery providing 1,110 square metres of column-free exhibition space. The pair will discuss the challenges and opportunities of working within an iconic 165-year-old British institution, as well as how the project compares with Levete’s radically contemporary design for the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology, which opened along the banks of the Tagus in Lisbon in 2016.

Founded in 2009, AL_A’s ongoing international commissions include remodelling Galeries Lafayette Haussmann in Paris; a new Maggie’s centre in Southampton; The Courtyard, a series of mixed-use developments across Moscow; and two new buildings for Wadham College, University of Oxford.

An historian by background, Dr Tristram Hunt was previously MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central and Shadow Secretary of State for Education.

Coffee break: 3.30pm-3.45pm

Sir David Adjaye and Yesomi Umolu, Exhibitions Curator at the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago, will discuss Adjaye’s long-standing engagement with art and artists –as designer and collaborator. Projects range from early commissions – such as Chris Ofili’s London home and studio and the tent designed for the inaugural Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park in 2003 – to exhibition design – including ‘All the World’s Futures’ at the 2015 Venice Biennale, curated by Owkui Enwezor – and civic buildings –from Rivington Place in Shoreditch (completed 2007) to the $540 million Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), which opened on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in September 2016. The result of over a century of efforts to commemorate African American history in the US capital, the NMAAHC has a distinct corona shape based on elements of the nearby Washington Monument and is wrapped in a ornamental bronze lattice that references historical African American craftsmanship.

Adjaye Associates’ prominent ongoing commissions include a new home for the Studio Museum Harlem, New York, and the Latvian Museum of Contemporary Art, Riga.

Yesomi Umolu recent curatorial projects include ‘Kapwani Kiwanga: The Sum and Its Parts’ and the international group show ‘So-called Utopias’. She received an MA in architectural design from the University of Edinburgh before studying curating at the Royal College of Art, London. 

Therme Art Program Reception: The conference will be followed by a champagne reception hosted by associate partner Therme Group to celebrate the launch of their new programme supporting large-scale art and architecture projects.