REAL is a London-based cultural institute and architectural practice.
REAL is dedicated to "what it means to live today", promoting inclusivity, democracy, and equalities of many kinds (amongst them, but not limited to, gender, race, class, wealth and space).
REAL coined the phrase “form follows finance”. Regardless of budget, we believe in extreme economy: of capital,
labour, energy and materials. We do more with less.
REAL has pioneered a time-based design approach in architecture, abandoning rigid ideas of functionalism in favour of adaptable, durable and sustainable space.
REAL engages positively with those in power. We cannot achieve structural change unless we work together.
REAL was founded in 2016 by Jack Self. REAL's work includes exhibitions, curation, art direction, strategy, publishing and brand consultancy.
REAL curated the 2016 British Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale with Home Economics (more here); other exhibitions include Face Value (Magazin, 2021), Breathless: London Art Now (Ca'Pesaro, 2019) and Mean Home (British School at Rome, 2019).
REAL is the publisher of Real Review, one of Europe's foremost contemporary culture magazines; other publications include Kommunen (2021) on the history of utopian communes, the first ever book on Mies van der Rohe's only UK project, Mies in London (2018) and Symbolic Exchange (2016), on egalitarian sharing economies.
REAL founded the world's first ethical housing company, REAL homes, in 2020. The origin of this work dates back to Real Estates: Life Without Debt (2014), The Ingot (2013), Default Grey (2014), Empire Hotel (2015), Common Stock (2016), Glass House (2017), Civic Surreal (2018), Ancient Lights (2019), and Bloom (2020/1). From 2018–20, REAL taught the Architectural Association design studio Diploma Six on climate crisis and domestic design.
REAL has exhibited work at institutions including the Milan Triennale, Royal Academy, Chicago Architecture Biennale and Tate Britain. Clients and partners include Arup, Comme des Garcons, Halifax Group, Junya Watanabe, OK-RM, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Royal Bank of Scotland, Bold Tendencies, British Council, Design Museum, IKEA, LVMH (Virgil Abloh), MINI and Prada, amongst others. For a more complete list of projects, please see this document.
REAL is a registered architectural practice (ARB 095822K) and a UK company (No. 10138381).