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'Zoomorphic' an overview of contemporary architecture at the V&A Museum

Exploring the animal kingdom's influence on contemporary architecture

Renzo Piano, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry and Ushida Finlay are just a few of the architects in “Zoomorphic”, this overview of contemporary architecture at the V&A (18 September-4 January). As the title implies, this is not a traditional architectural exhibition, instead it explores how the animal kingdom has influenced the design of some of the most memorable forms of contemporary architecture. The curator Hugh Aldersey-Williams explains that, “Some of the most arresting and interesting architecture being designed today by the world’s greatest architects is inspired by animal forms, either in a very direct way or when architects borrow more subtly from the natural world.” Santiago Calatrava’s design for the Milwaukee Museum (below) is inspired by the form of a bird in flight, and Foster and Partners’ Swiss Re London office tower bears more than a passing resemblance to a sea sponge. To demonstrate this relationship between the natural world and architecture, the curators have placed stuffed animal specimens, on loan from the Natural History Museum, alongside architectural models, drawings and photographs. Forty buildings by international, and particularly British, architects are represented in the first architecture exhibition to be held in the V&A’s Contemporary Space. This occasion precedes the inauguration of the V&A’s new architecture galleries and study rooms due to open in the autumn of 2004.