The Room of Ideas is our shortlisted response to the RIBA’s competition for a new learning centre for users of all ages. It includes a study room, terrace and display area for the Grade II* listed home at Portland Place in central London.


The RIBA can be a daunting place for a child. The grand building, all of those important names on the wall, the knowledge, the institution. Our proposal aimed to introduce the personalities of the RIBA to children, to engage RIBA members and children in a learning process, to help personalise a community that the children can’t see.


Like a moodboard, the Room of Ideas is clad in versatile, soft sustainable cork panels to encourage continuous creativity. These panels wrap around the room, covering the shelves, doors and floor. It is a flexible, hands-on learning space created out of simple materials and cleverly crafted joinery.


The cork material is also used in the lobby, the study, the terrace and as wayfinding throughout RIBA Portland Place. More than just an engaging and omnipresent pin-up board, however, these cork panels are designed to inspire.


The surfaces of the cork are marked with the early and impactful architectural memories of RIBA members. We intend to design a process to engage with our community and ask questions such as: ‘What is your earliest memory that inspired you to architecture?’ ‘What drawing, plan or image affected your interest in design?’ Subsequent answers, drawings and quotes will be curated and laser cut across the panels, creating a beautiful composition, a collage-like ornamentation, an inspiring backdrop for everything that happens in this place of learning.


A nod to the Egyptians’ hieroglyphics, Michaelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, the Southbank Centre’s graffitied skateboard space and the very walls throughout 66 Portland Place, our Room of Ideas is covered in graphic engravings to echo cultural and historic spaces across the ages.


The mural-like application is a technique derived from the Greek verb graphein, meaning to scratch, carve or write. We are interested in exploring this action and modernising it for the 21st century.


This is a place made by the RIBA community to spark conversation, to engage and to inspire younger generations to architecture.


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Project credits


  • Associate: Michael Henriksen
  • Architect: Mina Gospavic
  • Architect: Catherine Blarney
  • Architectural Assistant: Eugenia Pavone
  • Architectural Assistant: Jamie Whelan

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