Alternative Histories

An exhibition of models by 80 architects practising across Europe, responding to drawings by earlier generations

David Kohn Architects participated in the exhibition, Alternative Histories, curated by Jantje Engels and Marius Grootveld for Drawing Matter and the Architecture Foundation. The exhibition was first exhibited in London 23 March – 14 April and then at CIVA in Brussels from 7th to 29th September 2019.

Acknowledging that architecture is a corpus of inherited ideas, Alternative Histories invited more than 80 contemporary practices in the UK and Europe to imagine an exchange with architects from the past. Each office was assigned a different drawing from the collection of Drawing Matter. The architects were then tasked with making a model that not only responded to what they saw, but envisioned an alternative future for the original drawing. 

David Kohn Architects responded to John Hejduk’s drawing ‘Aerial View of Wall House’ 1972. Hejduk invented characters that incorporated fragments of his previous projects. Our model, "Five Figures for a Masque," followed Hejduk's approach by cannibalising our own back catalogue. The resulting figures can be thought of as architectural characters that might take part in an allegorical play. Hejduk's house’s wall made us think of Tom Snout in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and also the character Chad, or Kilroy drawn by allied soldiers on walls throughout Europe during WWII. These possible readings placed the figures in a contemporary performance about the state of the nation and architecture's role within it.

At once an exhibition of new architecture in Europe and an enquiry into how it is now being made, Alternative Histories presents a shared past and present that is kaleidoscopic and undefinable, where there is always room for more and different points of reference, and expansion.