Guest post: Learning at the RIBA by Wilson Yau

“The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has one of the world’s largest collection of architectural material in the world.

I have the privilege to use this collection every day in my work as part of the RIBA’s Learning team.

Wilson Yau giving the Our Hut volunteers a tour of RIBA

Through a programme of events, the team works with our collections and architects (many of whom are members of the RIBA) to promote architecture and the understanding of the built environment amongst the public.

So, it was rather gratifying last November to have Our Hut’s enthusiastic Sublime Structures research volunteers visiting us to kick-start their research into Crystal Palace.

Sublime Structures at Crystal Palace Park

Wilson and the Our Hut volunteers in the RIBA library

Our collection of books, archives, drawings, photographs and periodicals – all publicly accessible via the the Victoria & Albert Museum and the RIBA’s central London headquarters 66 Portland Place – hold items related to Crystal Palace, such as news articles and original reports, drawings and photographs.

A selection were brought out for the volunteers to see and that started a conversation about how and where to conduct research.

Learning about architecture

To make such an event possible, I work with other RIBA staff – most often those from the Learning team and the RIBA Library where I am based. Our curators are an invaluable resource when looking for material from our collections.

We are lucky to have the space and material to support visits by all types of groups wanting to learn more about architecture.

Each visit is different and groups will engage in activities according to their interests and abilities.

Participants of all ages come to enjoy, understand and learn about architecture:

  • through sessions that will introduce them to our varied collections and how to access it
  • during tours of our Art Deco headquarters, and
  • in workshops using traditional and digital creativity activities inspired by our collections.

Our programme equips participants to talk about the built environment and know where to find information.

It’s vital we support lifelong learning and give everyone the skills and confidence to influence and make sense of the environment around them.”


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