RSHP collaborates with the Geological Society

20 August 2021

Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners (RSHP) in collaboration with the Geological Society is proud to announce the opening of Spacescapes: Postcards from our Solar System. A free outdoor exhibition that will bring detailed images of our solar system to the Burlington House Courtyard, Piccadilly, from 20 August to 8 October 2021, 9am to 6pm daily.

RSHP supported the design of the outdoor exhibition of eight monoliths to display a collection of incredible images curated by the Geological Society, in partnership with the UK Space Agency and an international team of NASA scientists, engineers, artists and designers, to celebrate the Geological Society’s 2021 Year of Space

The monoliths present impressive images, rich in detail, of Earthly geological features compared with similar vistas found on other planets such as volcanos, glaciers, impact craters, and oceans. Accompanying the images are thought-provoking insights produced by the Geological Society team, scientists, and engineers.

On entry to the courtyard, the exploration begins with the famous selfie of Nasa’s Perseverance Mars rover and the Mars Helicopter, Ingenuity, printed to a vast scale of 4m x 3.5m wide, covering two panels. This larger-than-life image reflects the spirit of the surrounding monoliths that tower above the visitor to confront our perception of the scale of the solar system in relation to the courtyard.

The exhibition’s stark geometry challenges the surrounding classical 17th-century buildings, home to the Geological Society since 1854, (the oldest geological society in the world), five learned societies and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Our aim was to create a bespoke and low-cost exhibition structure with strong geometry that could be installed effortlessly within a historical setting without any intrusive fixtures, easy to deconstruct and relocate as a touring exhibition.

RSHP assisted the Geological Society, a registered charity, through the Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners Charitable Foundation, to support the education and outreach work done by the Society to broaden the range of people joining the profession; a goal shared by RSHP, which also supports several architecture education bursaries around the country.

John McElgunn, partner, RSHP says “It has been hugely educational to work on Spacescapes with the Geological Society and Sanjeev Gupta. Collaborating with the Society and such a renowned scientist and NASA advisor has been out of this world. Exploring the stunning imagery from around the solar system allows us to understand both similarities and contrasts with our own blue planet. We hope this exhibition can help to showcase the incredible work done by the society, their fellows, engineers, geologist, artists, and explorers from all over the world(s).“

Sanjeev Gupta, NASA advisor and Professor of Earth Science, Imperial College London, says "We humans are fascinated by landscapes. We have a desire to understand our place in our natural environment. Spacescapes takes us beyond our own world to explore visions of our solar system both strange and familiar. It has been an immense pleasure to work so closely with John, Nick and the RSHP team to create this exhibition of gorgeous and dramatic spacecraft images - the result of human ingenuity as we explore our nearest 'beyond Earth' environments."

Flo Bullough, Head of Policy and Engagement, Geological Society, says “With something for space explorers of all ages, this exhibition is sure to inspire your curiosity and expand your horizons. We’re thrilled to have worked with an incredible international team of architects at RSHP alongside scientists, designers, and engineers to bring this exhibition to the public. We hope these captivating images will inspire those that visit and spark a curiosity not only about outer space but about the marvel of our own environments here on Earth.”

About the Geological Society: The Geological Society is the UK's professional body for Earth science, with a worldwide membership of over 12,000 Fellows. Founded in 1807, we are the world's first Geological Society. Today, we are a world-leading communicator of Earth science – through scholarly publishing, library and information services, cutting-edge scientific conferences, education activities and outreach to the general public. We also provide impartial scientific information and evidence to support policy-making and public debate about the challenges facing humanity.