CREAte director Timothy Brittain-Catlin was selected to speak to an international audience at the recent Preserving the Recent Past 3 conference at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles last week. His subject was how the Twentieth Century Society, of which he is deputy chairman, won protection for British postmodern architecture last year through a campaign of events, talks, publications, and listing campaigns and challenges, and an approach towards understanding these buildings based on his book Bleak Houses: failure and disappointment in architecture. The work of the British architectural amenity societies such as the C20 Society was described at the conference by a senior figure from the World Monuments Fund as ‘far, far in advance of that in any other country’.
Preserving the Recent Past is the leading conference for all those engaged with twentieth-century building advocacy and conservation and was attended by delegates from all over the world. The last time the conference was held was in 2000, so this was an eagerly awaited event. The proceedings of the conference, including videos of all presentations, will be eventually be published online.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin has published an account of the life and work of the architect-planner Elizabeth Chesterton in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Although he met Chesterton when he was still a student, he discovered the significance of her pioneer work when researching his book Leonard Manasseh & Partners (2010). Chesterton was the planner for the Manasseh partnership’s National Motor Museum at Beaulieu of 1967-74, a grand design almost on the scale of the great baroque gardens of the eighteenth-century, but, as with all Chesterton’s work, alive to the conditions of modern life, tourism and transport.
Possibly Chesterton’s most lasting legacy is her contribution to the debate about protecting historic town centres from over-development. In 1963 she persuaded the town of King’s Lynn in Norfolk to abandon their plans for large roads and parking areas and instead strengthen the old centre with new buildings that respected the scale, forms and materials of the historic core; this proved to be a watershed moment in post-war planning. In addition she set new standards for masterplanning layouts for sensitive landscapes throughout her career.
Chesterton’s entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography comes in recognition of the life’s work of this remarkable architect and planner.
Image Credits: Ian Baker’s drawing of the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu
The next CREAte Open Lecture will be given by Alan Powers with his talk titled, ‘Pedagogy and Practice – a long view of architectural education’. The open lecture will take place on Tuesday 19 February 2019 at 6pm in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.
That you cannot learn architecture until you do it, and you cannot do it until you have learnt it remains a paradox of this discipline. Alan Powers will look at crises and episodes of change in the past 140 years of architectural education in Britain and elsewhere, and ask whether it is a uniquely problematic subject, or simply one in which vested interests have usually stood in the way of common sense.
Alan Powers chose as his PhD subject ‘Architectural Education in Britain 1880-1914’. He has continued to be interested in training both as an expression of changing architectural ideals through history and as a significant factor in transmitting them. Not having studied architecture himself, he has had opportunities to observe the mystifying process in action at the Prince of Wales’s Institute and the University of Greenwich, and currently at the London School of Architecture and University of Westminster.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin is the first speaker in a series of talks and discussion evenings at Sir John Soane’s Museum that looks at critical moments in history and their influence on architecture. His theme is the year 1906, when the Liberal Party won a landslide victory in the general election, and embarked on an intensive period of legislation that had a long-term impact on our towns and houses. The Housing, Town Planning Act of 1909 was the first comprehensive exercise in modern democratic planning in Britain, finally making an inroad into the rights of private landowners, and senior Liberals themselves built high quality homes at a great rate, creating not only country houses but urban landscapes such as that around Smith Square in Westminster. This talk is based on Dr Brittain-Catlin’s research for his book The Edwardians and their Houses: the New Life of Old England, which will be published next year by Lund Humphries.
The series of talks is organised by Owen Hopkins, Senior Curator of Exhibitions and Education at the Museum and Tim Abrahams, in partnership with Machine Books. It invites writers, critics, historians and architects to identify and reflect on a single Year Zero – when the trajectories of architectural and broader history connect and coincide and the status quo is changed forever. Further information about the event can be found here.
The first CREAte Open Lecture will be given by Professor Barbara Penner, ‘Cuddleficition’ on Tuesday 22 January at 6PM in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 1.
‘Cuddlefication’ refers to a pervasive new phenomenon in the design of public spaces. Public spaces, including libraries and museums, are softening under the influence of free wifi: users are being encouraged to spend time in, linger in and even recline in public – a lopsided arrangement in which it feels normal to lie down on the floor of a national institution to work or nap or both. This talk suggests that cuddlefication is one result of the way digital technologies are being grafted onto our analogue lives, a process that changes bodies, work patterns, spaces and the protocols that govern their use. The new city is not only smart; it is soft.
Barbara Penner is Professor in Architectural Humanities at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL. She is author of Bathroom (2013), awarded the 2014 RIBA President’s Award for Outstanding University-Located Research. She is co-editor of Sexuality and Gender at Home (2017) and Gender Space Architecture (Routledge, 2000). She is a regular contributor to the architectural journals Places and Architectural Review.
Kent School of Architecture warmly welcomes Dr Davina Jackson as its first Honorary Academic. Her appointment coincides with the publication by Lund Humphries of her latest book, Data Cities: how satellites are transforming architecture and design, in which she explains how rocket science and electronic technologies have changed obsolete practices and are expanding potentials for architecture and environmental design. The text surveys exceptional projects created by leading architects, scientists, artists, engineers, geographers, urbanists, gamers, gardeners, filmmakers and musicians who are reimagining life on our planet — and elsewhere.
Dr Jackson completed her PhD by publication at KSA in 2017, following the publication of her book on the Kent-born, New Zealand / Australian architect Douglas Snelling: Pan-Pacific modern design and architecture, on which she gave a talk to a full house for the Twentieth Century Society last year. Dr Jackson is an authoritative and highly respected historian and critic, and the CREAte research centre is delighted to host a continuing collaboration.
Riverscapes are the main arteries of the world’s largest cities, and have, for millennia, been the lifeblood of the urban communities that have developed around them. These human settlements – given life hrough the space of the local waterscapes – soon developed into ritualised spaces that sought to harness the dynamism of the watercourse and create local architectural landscape. Theorised via a sophisticated understanding of history, space, culture, and ecology, this collection of wonderful and deliberately wide-ranging case studies, from Early Modern Italy tyo the contemporary Bngal Delta, investigates the culture of human interaction with rivers and the nature of urban topography. Riverine explores the ways in which architecture and urban planning have imbued cultural landscapes with ritual and structural meaning.
Edited by Gerald Adler and Manolo Guerci, the book results from the CREAte (Centre for Research in European Architecture) conference held in 2014, and contains a selection of papers from that event in addition to pieces specially commissioned for the publication.
Dr Luciano Cardellicchio presented the first results from his Leverhulme-funded research project ‘Our Future Heritage’ at the 8th International Conference on Construction Research organised by the prestigious Eduardo Torroja Institute in Madrid. The principal purpose of the institute is to carry on scientific research and technical development in the field of construction and construction materials.
The paper titled ‘Ageing pattern of Contemporary Concrete: the case study of the Jubilee Church by Richard Meier in Rome’ has received a mention from the conference jury, which included the editor of Casabella Professor Francesco Dal Co, award-winning Portuguese architect Eduardo Souto De Moura, and the Director of the Eduardo Torroja Foundation Pepa Cassinello.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be joining the world’s leading architects at the World Architecture Festival in Amsterdam at the end of November. The Festival’s super jury includes Sir David Adjaye and Nathalie de Vries, director and co-founder of MVRDV, and other participants include Simon Allford, Allison Brooks, Nigel Coates, Peter Cook, Deborah Saunt and many more from all over the world. Rem Koolhaas, Reinier de Graaf and Charles Jencks are among the speakers, and Catherine Croft, director of the Twentieth Century Society, and the editor and critic Catherine Slessor will also be participating.
Dr Brittain-Catlin will be part of a judging panel that includes Joyce Owens of Studio AJO and Torben Østergaard of the international Danish practice 3XN for the Future Projects category. The Festival runs from 28th to 30th November and will be held at the RAI Amsterdam convention centre.
The World Architecture Festival is the only global awards programme where architects present their completed buildings and future projects live to a panel of internationally renowned judges and delegates from around the world. This year there will be more award finalists to see, more presentations and prizes to be received, more delegates to network and more fringe activity than ever before.
‘Architecture is concealed unto itself: Helmuth Plessner and his influence on twentieth-century architecture’, written by Gerald Adler has just been published in the latest issue of the journal Architecture Philosophy. This is the journal of the International Society for the Philosophy of Architecture, and is a special issue devoted to papers presented at its major conference in 2016 at Bamberg University, Germany. The conference topic was ‘The Human in Architecture and Philosophy’ and Adler presented a paper on Plessner, one of the key philosophers of Weimar-era ‘Philosophical Anthropology’. He elucidates Plessner’s ‘place’-centred philosophy, and contrasts this with the time-centred thinking of his far more well-known peer Martin Heidegger. Adler presents the architectural implications of Plessner’s thinking, demonstrating this through the design of his own house (by Lucy Hillebrand), and by allusions to the pragmatic approach of the Viennese architect Josef Frank. The article will be of interest to those who wish to go beyond mere appearances to get to the philosophical underpinnings of design. It will also come as an antidote to those who recoil at ‘philosophy’ (and certainly the difficulties of Heidegger’s writing), and to those with an interest in the wider cultural and anthropological implications for architecture.
Guest-edited by the conference organisers, Martin Düchs and Christain Illies, the journal contains a number of interesting articles, including ones by keynote speakers Karsten Harries and the (recently topical) Roger Scruton.