Constructing Worlds

Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age

Photo of cooling towers in a gallery

Explore the work of eighteen exceptional photographers from the 1930s to the present day who have changed the way we view architecture and perceive the world around us

Constructing Worlds looked beyond the medium’s ability to simply document the built world and explores the power of photography to reveal wider truths about society as visitors embarked on a global journey through 20th and 21st century architecture. 

Highlights included Berenice Abbott’s ground-breaking photographs charting the birth of the skyscraper in New York; Lucien Hervé’s subtle evocations of modernity in Chandigarh by Le Corbusier; the luxury lifestyle of Julius Shulman’s images of California’s residences; the moving nature of Daniel Libeskind’s Jewish Museum as seen by London based photographer Hélène Binet; the recent dramatic growth of Chinese urbanisation recorded by Nadav Kander and the devastating effects of war in Afghanistan as expressed in the poignant images of Simon Norfolk.

Tagged with: Art & design

The exhibition is curated by Alona Pardo and Elias Redstone and designed by the internationally recognised Brussels architecture firm, Office KGDVS, led by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen.

Supported by The Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and part of the SA-UK Seasons 2014 & 2015

Featured Photographers

Berenice Abbott, Iwan Baan, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Hélène Binet, Walker Evans, Luigi Ghirri, Andreas Gursky, Lucien Hervé, Nadav Kander, Luisa Lambri, Simon Norfolk, Bas Princen, Ed Ruscha, Stephen Shore, Julius Shulman, Thomas Struth, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Guy Tillim

Barbicania

Woman standing in front of washing machines

Watch: Barbicania

Part of Constructing Worlds, filmmakers Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine, best known for their now legendary take on Rem Koolhaas’s Maison à Bordeaux, were commissioned to produce a new film, Barbicania, devoted to the history and life of the Barbican.

Photo of Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine

Barbican Meets: Ila Beka and Louise Lemoine

Turning the camera on themselves, directors Ila Bêka and Louise Lemoine reflect on their month-long immersion in the life of the Barbican Centre and Estate and the people they met during the making of their documentary, Barbicania.

Reviews

‘A spectacular new show celebrating the drama of modern architecture‘
‘A glorious exhibition‘
‘As well as being one of the best photography shows in a long time, it must also be one of the most photogenic‘
‘It’s this marriage of the disciplines of architecture and photography with humanity and sentiment that is displayed so exhaustively and beautifully‘
‘A photographic tour de force‘
It's Nice That
‘Endlessly fascinating‘
The Arts Desk
‘A blockbuster exhibition‘
Wallpaper*

Discover

Listen: Constructing Worlds Audio

Get a new perspective on architecture with our Constructing Worlds audio guide. Curators Alona Pardo and Elias Redstone discuss the themes and inspirations that emerge from the photographers and their work throughout the exhibition.

Collection: Constructing Worlds

Discover some of the themes and inspirations behind our Constructing Worlds photographers' work as they explore architecture, society and the world we live in through their lens with articles, audio and photography.

Touring

Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age toured to ArkDes, Stockholm from 20 February-17 May 2015 and to Museo ICO, Madrid from 3 June–6 September 2015

With thanks

Media partner