Royal Institute of British Architects

RIBA is a global professional membership body and the custodian of one of the world’s oldest and largest architectural collections.

By Royal Institute of British Architects

Portrait of Cedric Price (1977) by Architect: Cedric Price (1934-2003)Royal Institute of British Architects

RIBA was established in 1834  for ‘the general advancement of Architecture, and for promoting and facilitating the acquirement of the knowledge of the various arts and sciences connected therewith’.

Float commissioned as part of Pride by Photographer: UnknownRoyal Institute of British Architects

Today, RIBA continues to drive excellence in the profession and nurtures successive generations of architects to deliver better buildings, stronger communities and a sustainable environment. We do so by being inclusive, ethically and environmentally aware and collaborative. 

RIBA Clore Studio Launch (2019) by Photographer: Rachel MannsRoyal Institute of British Architects

Since 1934, our Grade II-listed, Art Deco building in Central London has given architectural prominence to our work. Inside a wide range of activities take place for people of all ages and backgrounds, from children’s creative workshops, public talks and professional seminars to a café, bookshop and temporary exhibitions. 

Humourous cartoon depicting the staff and pupils of Sir Edwin Lutyens working at drawing boards in his office (1900) by Architect: Sir Edwin Landseer Lutyens (1869-1944)Royal Institute of British Architects

While behind the scenes we work hard influencing public policy on design and the built environment, supporting our architect and student members, working with schools and universities, caring for our collection, publishing books and much more. 

Archive items from the Photograph collection and LibraryRoyal Institute of British Architects

Collecting

RIBA holds the national collection for architecture in the UK, a Designated Outstanding Collection of over 4 million items. Spanning the Renaissance to the present day, it offers global scope and rich historical detail.

RIBA Clore Studio Launch (2019) by Photographer: Rachel MannsRoyal Institute of British Architects

RIBA's Collections are hugely diverse and span rare books, drawings, photographs, models, artefacts, archives, portraits, medals, coins and audio-visual material. You can read more about our archival holdings in Revealing the Collection.

Entrance to Freestyle exhibition commission by RIBA with Space Popular (2020) by Photographer: Francis WareRoyal Institute of British Architects

Exhibiting

RIBA has a longstanding tradition of exhibiting architecture. In 2021, we celebrate 100 years of exhibition-making since the opening of our first display ‘American Architecture’. Since 2014, when our purpose built Architecture Gallery opened, more than half a million audiences have visited our changing programmes of exhibitions, installations and associated displays. 

The Brutalist Playground installation shot at The Edge Gallery, Bath (2017) by Photographer: Paul BlakemoreRoyal Institute of British Architects

Through our exhibitions we animate RIBA’s world-class collection for public benefit, connecting architecture to contemporary life, personal experiences, societal issues and wellbeing.   

Pea Soup House commission (2016) by Photogprapher: Francis WareRoyal Institute of British Architects

RIBA's ambitions for public engagement are bigger than the size of our galleries. To reach new and diverse audiences we tour exhibitions nationally and internationally; organise pop-up displays; and commission architects and artists to produce site-specific installations, both in our headquarters and outside the organisation.

Installation shot of the commission by Photograph: Pezo von EllrichshausenRoyal Institute of British Architects

Sometimes we partner with other cultural organisations to create ambitious and monumental public realm installations like 'A Hall for Hull' by Chile-based architect Pezo von Ellrichshausen and Swiss artist Felice Varini with Hull2017 and British Council.

Friends of RIBA tour of 66 Portland Place by Photographer: Rachel MannsRoyal Institute of British Architects

Learning

RIBA delivers over 300 learning events each year, exploring, questioning and celebrating the built environment. Our Clore Learning Studio provides the optimum setting to explore the processes of architecture and gain insight into architectural history for eager learners of all ages and backgrounds.

RIBA Clore Studio Launch (2019) by Photographer: Rachel MannsRoyal Institute of British Architects

Creativity is at the heart of all our learning programmes. Through hands-on workshops, we invite the public to explore form and structure; the use of materials and different techniques of construction; as well as architectural typologies and what they symbolise in different contexts and much, much more.

RIBA Festival of Learning Oct 2019 (2019) by Photographer: Rachel MannsRoyal Institute of British Architects

Our National Schools Programme has engaged over 30,000 primary and secondary pupils since 2015. Together with our trained Architecture Ambassadors we work with teachers to deliver inspiring in-school activities. Our schools visits help to raise the aspirations of participating young people and reduce perceived barriers to entering a career in the creative industries.

Stirling Prize 2018 - screen view of the shortlist (2018) by Photographer: Andrew WhendryRoyal Institute of British Architects

Awards

RIBA has an outstanding awards programme that recognises the achievements of architects’ built projects, academic research and student work. These awards range from the highest accolade of the Royal Gold Medal – approved personally by the Queen – to the annual RIBA Stirling Prize

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Street Architecture Medal (1923) by Photographer: Langford JonesRoyal Institute of British Architects

Dating back to 1836, the President's Medals are RIBA’s oldest awards and regarded as the most prestigious prizes in architectural education globally. The very first Silver Medal was awarded to George Godwin for his essay on the 'Nature and Properties of Concrete'.

Wooden maquettes for 8 Henrietta Place, Westminster, London (1991) by Architect: Keir Smith (1950-2007)Royal Institute of British Architects

Celebrating Diversity

Buildings come in all shapes, sizes and materials. We celebrate this diversity in architecture but also within our current and future membership. The profession in the UK is predominantly white and male, but we are working hard to change this narrative and champion an inclusive future.

Float commissioned as part of Pride by Photographer: UnknownRoyal Institute of British Architects

In September 2020, we launched an Inclusion Charter for architects and published our first ever Inclusion Transparency Report. This, however, is just the beginning. We are aware and committed to the work needed to increase diversity and support inclusion.

Climate Protest 2019 by Photographer: UnknownRoyal Institute of British Architects

Activism

Some areas of architecture have a huge influence and impact on how we live and interact in the world. RIBA facilitates the space to express concerns surrounding the issues of today, allowing architects and the public to have a voice and be heard. We connect grassroots with the policy makers.

RIBA Festival of Learning Oct 2019 (2019) by Photographer: Rachel MannsRoyal Institute of British Architects

One of our times greatest challenges is climate change and we are calling on RIBA Chartered Practices to help address the global crisis by signing up to our 2030 Climate Challenge. Our goal is to help architects meet net zero, or better, whole life carbon for new and retrofitted buildings by 2030. 

International Award winner 2018Royal Institute of British Architects

Connecting

 We connect architects from around the world through our four global membership chapters and through collaborating with international architectural organisations. Our work involves collaborative projects and creating greater mobility within the profession.

Goldsmith Street (2019) by Photographer: Tim CrockerRoyal Institute of British Architects

On a national scale, our regional offices support and provide local platforms for a growing community of architects to explore themes that influence the design, planning and conservation of the built environment. Here is a chance to discuss matters of global concern as well as the wellbeing of communities outside one’s own doorstep.

Part W event - Pioneering Modernist Women in partnership with Part W (2020) by Photographer: Black Edge ProductionsRoyal Institute of British Architects

Lastly, we act as the connector between the profession and the wider public through online and live events. We invite leading figures within the field to present and debate key topics, architectural history and the latest development within the discipline in a programme that sets out to both provoke and delight. 

The RIBA's headquarters at 66 Portland Place (1934) by Photographer: Dell & WainwrightRoyal Institute of British Architects

As we approach our 200 years anniversary in 2034, we continue to make a noise about the positive impact that architecture can have on places and humanity, supporting architects and communities that are leading the way in creating a more  responsible, imaginative, inclusive and sustainable world. 

Credits: Story

Explore more from RIBA Collections here. 
All images are from RIBA Collections unless listed.    

Portrait of Cedric Price. Rights: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections 
Interior shots of 66 Portland Place. Rights: Rachel Manns / RIBA 
Installation shot of Brutalist Playground at The Edge Gallery, Bath, 2017. Rights: Paul Blakemore 
Entrance of the Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place, London. Rights: Francis Ware Pea Soup House commission, 2016. Rights: Francis Ware 
Hall for Hull commission, 2017. Rights: Pezo von Ellrichshausen 
Clore Learning Studio and Learning workshops. Rights: Rachel Manns / RIBA 
Stirling Prize 2018 - screen view of the shortlist. Rights: Andrew Whendry 
Goldsmith Street, 2019. Rights: Tim Crocker 
Event - Pioneering Modernist Women in partnership with Part W. Rights: Black Edge Productions, 2020 
Exterior shot of RIBA headquarters, 66 Portland Place, London. Rights: Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Collections

Curation and Interpretation by RIBA Public Programmes.

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The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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