Lasdun’s drawings find a global home
Digitisation means the location of an architect’s archive is less important than the quality of its preservation
The news that Denys Lasdun’s archive is to be available online is welcome. The digitisation of architectural drawings has opened up a wealth of material to scholars across the world.
According to his widow, Lasdun was of the view that the RIBA represented the most appropriate home for his drawings. With digitisation, however, the case that architects’ archives should stay in their native country has been much diminished.
Far more important is the question of which institution is best placed to make a centuries-long commitment to preserving and defending the archive, while imaginatively representing it in new and revelatory contexts.
Now housed in Montreal’s Canadian Centre for Architecture, James Stirling’s archive is hardly conveniently located for most scholars but the CCA has done an exemplary job in opening it up to a global audience.
It is this level of commitment that the RIBA will need to match if it hopes to retain the archives of future generations of architects.