Architectour Guide is a series of new city guides launched after a successful Kickstarter campaign. The books celebrate the world’s best architecture; they are city guides for architects entirely made of sketches. We talk to the book’s creator, architect Virginia Duran, about the London Architectour Guide, “instagrammeability” and why the Bussey Building features.

What is Architectour Guide London?

Architectour Guide is a new exciting series of city guides. The first book, London, is a black and golden hardback book that contains London’s 290 most exciting places. The book has no photographs; only drawings, and rare tips on how to pay less, sneak in and visit at the best time.

How did the project start?

I am an architect and urban planner from Madrid, Spain. This idea started as a map and came from a passion for architectural travelling. These maps were the tool I used to locate the amazing architecture I wanted to visit. New trip; new map.

At some point I had 35 of these maps and they were no longer private – people were sharing and using them too, so I decided to put the information together as an app. Tetuan Valley’s start-up school believed in this idea and selected me for their program. We even won a technology contest. But there was something wrong with the app, it had no feeling and this killed the whole travelling experience.

So you switched from an app to a physical guide?

Every Sunday since then I would email the 2,000 subscribers of my blog and ask them questions about travelling. The answers shaped a new product: no photographs, interesting and short descriptions, and an easy to follow itinerary. These subscribers, in the age of social media and digitalisation, were asking for something shockingly counterintuitive: a physical guide with only sketches, revealing the essential without spoiling our first impression for a place. The readers even voted for the project’s name and logo: Architectour.

Creating a concept with a friendly group of strangers was fun but I had to test this was a feasible idea; something people would actually buy.

How long did the London Guide take to put together?

In May 2017 we launched the Kickstarter campaign and in January 2019 we finalised London, our first book of the series. I created my first map, Chicago, in 2012. It seems so long ago.

How did you pick the content, how was it researched?

The magic recipe of the content is: fun facts, historical and cultural relevance and “instagrammeability”. If a place has these three factors, it’s in the book.

I’ve visited more than 800 locations and came across another 100 by accident. The best stories were always told in person by passionate staff and sometimes-unknown visitors. I’ve also found brilliant (and funny) stories hidden in old architecture books from the 1880s’. London is a fascinating city to research in full depth.

Why Peckham and Bussey Building?

Did you know Peckham was an old Saxon settlement by the river Peck? Probably you do know that one. But did you know that George Bussey was the first man to patent roller skates, cricket bats and tennis rackets? The chap was an inventor and more than a 100 years later, this spirit it’s still in his building. George Bussey’s creative essence has remained and that is remarkable.

On the other hand, the cultural relevance of the Bussey Building is noteworthy; it’s a positive example of persistence that can inspire other communities whose buildings are threatened to be demolished. I thought it was a story worth sharing.

Who are the team behind it?

We are a very small team of four: two architects, a designer and an editor. But never underestimate what a small group of passionate people can do.

What are you inspired by?

Architecture is my biggest inspiration. We have more than 10,000 years of built history and yet, we haven’t properly understood our relationship with buildings in the same way medicine has done with the human body. The idea of finding the key to why London and other cities work so well is what inspires my research and the will to share my findings with the curious reader. Cities are undoubtedly humankind’s greatest achievement.

London Guide can be purchased on their website.