Sir John Soane’s Museum is delighted to be collaborating with Grafton Architects on an exhibition that explores the relationship between two of the principal buildings on Lincoln’s Inn Fields: Grafton’s Marshall Building for the London School of Economics and Political Science and Sir John Soane’s Museum.
The Dublin-based firm, headed by 2020 Pritzker Prize Laureates and 2022 Daylight Award winners Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell, is a recent winner of the RIBA Gold Medal (2020), and the RIBA Stirling Prize (2021), and the Mies van der Rohe Award (2022). The exhibition examines shared themes and architectural values between the Marshall Building and the work of Sir John Soane.
A connection across history TOP
Located at 44 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, the Marshall Building and Sir John Soane’s Museum were both created as spaces for learning and debate, with their Portland stone facades drawing the eye as they contrast solid masses and window recesses. The play of light within the Marshall Building resonates with Soane’s ability to ingeniously draw light down through his buildings.
Photo: view of the Marshall Building's north facade, by Ed Reeves
This exhibition will bridge space and time to celebrate the relationship between these two new neighbours by pairing never-before-seen drawings by Grafton, which shed light on the design and construction process, with specially selected drawings from Sir John Soane’s archive. These highlight shared values: an interest in innovative technology and the use of traditional drawing techniques (the section, the plan) to create powerful and compelling images. Further comparisons are made between drawings and photographs, showing Soane’s designs and the Marshall Building under construction. The Foyle Space, in the heart of the Soane, will feature an exquisite model of the Marshall building. It will allow visitors to see the branching structure of the ‘tree’ columns which support the building.
These comparisons between Sir John Soane and Grafton Architects position architecture and the transition of buildings from designs to physical reality as a shared craft across the centuries. Visitors will be afforded an intriguing glimpse of an ongoing dialogue between Soane and Grafton, between architecture and our built environment.
Exhibition events TOP
Join us for unique events, inspired by the exhibition
The partnership between the Museum and Grafton will exemplify our mission to show how Sir John Soane and his collection inspire and inform contemporary architectural practice.
Our programme of public events will provide insights to the design process as well as rare opportunities to visit the Marshall Building in the company of its architects. Explore the schedule below.
19 October Neighbours in Space and Time: Sir John Soane's Museum and the Marshall building, with Shelley McNamara, Yvonne Farrell and Eric Parry RA; panel discussion, £10 – book
22 October Inspired by Soane: sketching spaces in the Marshall Building; all-day workshop, £50 including sketchbook – book
12 November The wasteland that became a nirvana: a tour of Lincoln’s Inn Fields, led by Dr. Matthew Green; walking tour, £15 – book
29 November In Conversation: Capturing Light with Grafton Architects and Marina Tabassum; online panel discussion, free to attend – register
7 December Tour of the Marshall Building with Grafton Architects; walking tour, £10 – book
Image: (left) a section through the Dome of Sir John Soane's Museum, by George Bailey, 1810; (right) the Marshall Building, section, by Grafton Architects.
A fascinating exhibition companion
The exhibition is accompanied by a book Neighbours in Space and Time: Grafton Architects at Sir John Soane’s Museum, published October 2022. Contributing authors Kenneth Frampton, Deborah Saunt and Marina Tabassum as well as Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton explore the parallels between Soane and Grafton buildings.
Carefully selected drawings from the Soane Museum’s collection are paired with Grafton drawings and images of the Marshall Building, which are published here for the first time. This twinning approach highlights architecture as a craft shared across the centuries. This innovative publication also functions as a sketchbook, with 16 pages of high-quality drawing paper and a pocket at the back for collected materials, encouraging readers to respond creatively to the Marshall Building and Sir John Soane’s Museum.