Radical Rooms: The RIBA Exhibition Explores the Neglected Role of Women in Three Iconic Domestic Projects | News

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Installation photography © Gareth Gardner






Installation photography © Gareth Gardner

Installation photography © Gareth Gardner

The exhibition centers on the exploration of three domestic projects spanning 500 years: the 16th century Hardwick Hall, the 18th century A la Ronde and the 20th century Hopkins house. In each case, the exhibition explores how power structures are embedded in the domestic plane, revealing the social relations of their time.


Installation photography © Gareth Gardner

Installation photography © Gareth Gardner

The exhibition is also used as an opportunity to explore the neglected role of women in the conception and development of the three projects, namely Bess of Hardwick, Jane and Mary Parminter and Patty Hopkins.


Installation photography © Gareth Gardner

Installation photography © Gareth Gardner

In the case of Hardwick Hall, the exhibition highlights Bess of Hardwick’s overlooked role in adapting and realizing Robery Smythson’s proposed design, including alterations to ensure each piece was both striking in terms of scale and interior details. The resulting scheme is recognized as one of the earliest examples in the UK of European Renaissance influence.


Interpretation of Bess of Hardwick.  Photography © Heiko Prigge

Interpretation of Bess of Hardwick. Photography © Heiko Prigge

For A la Ronde du XVIIIe siècle, the exhibition highlights the role of cousins ​​Jane and Mary Parminter. After a decade-long tour of Europe, the cousins ​​commissioned the sixteen-sided house with unusual interior decoration, including inlaid feathers and a gallery of fingers. Spatially, the interconnected rooms radiate from a central triple-height hall, allowing cousins ​​to occupy the rooms according to the time of day, overturning conventional concepts of functionality and use.


Interpretation by Jane and Mary Parminter.  Photography © Heiko Prigge

Interpretation by Jane and Mary Parminter. Photography © Heiko Prigge

Finally, the exhibition explores the 20th century Hopkins house, whose high-tech style favored the use of industrialized and standardized pieces. Blurring the lines between home and office life, the project employed a clean-lined interior that flows from room to room with minimal separation or enclosure, “avoiding conventional home planning as much as conventional materials”.


Interpretation by Patty Hopkins.  Photography © Heiko Prigge

Interpretation by Patty Hopkins. Photography © Heiko Prigge

To create the exhibit, Holland and Mainstone divided the gallery into three sections separated by fabrics and rugs, referencing the specific details of each house. Inspired by a Palladian house plan, the exhibition forms an abstract grid of connected rooms, brought to life and occupied by the four women through elaborate costume design and a musical score.








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