RIBA’s Radical Rooms exhibition highlights the often ‘invisible’ influence of women

Domestic design reframed

The ‘forgotten’ design contributions of four women are celebrated at a new RIBA show, which examines radical changes in the domestic space via three historic buildings.

The exhibition, titled Radical Rooms: Power of the Plan, is being held at the RIBA Gallery in London and recreates the floor plans of Hardwick Hall, A la Ronde and Hopkins House – dating from the 16th, 18th and 20th centuries, respectively.

All three were designed or co-designed by women, and the show emphasises their contributions via videos, costumes, fabric and photos.

Derbyshire mansion Hardwick Hall was created by owner Bess of Hardwick, alongside architect Robert Smythson, while the sixteen-sided Devon cottage A la Ronde was, at least in part, pioneered by cousins and owners Jane and Mary Parminter. Some believe it’s inspired by Ravenna’s octagonal basilica.

Finally, there’s Hampstead’s Hopkins House, a high-tech home designed by Patty Hopkins in partnership with Michael Hopkins.

Photography: Heiko Prigge

Radical Rooms, created by architect Charles Holland and artist Di Mainstone, connects these spaces together in one exhibition. It uses audiovisual elements to share the story of the designers, emphasising the role they played in shaping new domestic design.

It’s accompanied by pieces from the RIBA archives, such as original drawings, as well as some less conventional elements including Bess of Hardwick rapping and the Parminters singing.

Radical Rooms: Power of the plan is on display until 31 July 2022 at 66 Portland Place, London. Plan your free visit.

Photography: Gareth Gardner
Photography: Heiko Prigge

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