1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces

1:1 Architects Build Small Spaces is the latest exhibition at the V&A.   This is an architectural exhibition with a difference - no models, no plans, sketches or diagrams - just exciting structures for visits to explore and interact with.

The display comprises seven structures, based on the theme refuge, or retreat. Each architect has drawn his inspiration from various locations within the V&A and has tried to show that 'to dwell' means more than just finding a place to shelter. Each is large enough for visitors to enter and explore.

Abraham Thomas, the V&A's Curator of Designs, and curator of this exhibition said:

"This exhibition will investigate small-scale structures and how they can define and enhance notions of everyday experience and personal space. Rather than offering visitors a mediated understanding of architecture through drawing and models, we want to make the buildings themselves the core of the exhibition."

International Architects Invited to Submit Plans

The V&A invited a number of international architects to offer plans for a retreat, a hideaway.

From the nineteen ideas originally submitted, seven appear in full-scale within the V&A. The seven architects selected have not exhibited the UK before. Each structure has its own film explaining the progress of the building from start to finish.

One of the most unusual exhibits is Inside/Outside Tree by Sou Fujimoto, a young architect from Tokyo. His work, on the day-lit landing outside the V&A's Architecture Gallery, is different to every other piece in the exhibition.

Made from transparent polygon sheets of acrylic stitched together with cable ties, Fujimoto's structure resembles a tree. It investigates the ideas of 'inside and outside' and 'nature and artificiality'. Visitors can step into the piece to experience the space. Although made entirely from artificial materials the tree reminds us of the way the branches of a real tree meet and intermix providing open and enclosed spaces.



British Architectural Styles

Exhibition Catalogue

A 48-page paperback brochure accompanies the exhibition. The book, which features more than 70 illustrations, showcases not just the seven exhibited structures, but also the 12 that were not accepted.

The original plans and models for all nineteen submissions are on view in the Architecture Gallery in Room 128A. 

The exhibition is open until 30th August 2010. Further details of the exhibition, and an extremely varied programme of public events, is available from the V&A Museum.


  • V&A Museum


  • Inside/Outside Tree by Sou Fujimoto, with permission from V&A Museum

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Cromwell Road, Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, SW7, UK