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
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.
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.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin has been appointed to Historic England’s national advisory committee. This group advises the heritage and conservation body on policy matters and casework (excluding London) where they are novel, contentious or set a precedent; it plays a key role in supporting Historic England with the intellectual, informed, balanced, long-term tools required to maintain public confidence, sometimes working on decisions which are part of a story several hundred years old. The committee is chaired by the distinguished archeologist Professor Michael Fulford CBE.
CREAte members have long-standing connections with Historic England and its predecessor English Heritage, with both Dr Brittain-Catlin and Professor Gerry Adler contributing monographs to the British C20 Architects monograph series. Dr Brittain-Catlin wrote Historic England’s Introduction to Historic Assets: 19th and 20th Century Convents and Monasteries (2016), which acts both as an authoritative statement of the heritage value of these important buildings and also as a primer for the general reader.
The appointment is made by Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, and follows a competitive selection process.
Historic England has announced this week that a number of major postmodern buildings will receive listed building status, thus preserving this important period of British architecture for posterity. Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, CREAte member and deputy chairman of the Twentieth Century Society which campaigned for the change, hailed this as a major event in architectural conservation history.
Dr Brittain-Catlin said ‘The Twentieth Century Society sees this announcement as an important turning point. Many of these buildings were at serious risk, and some were already being damaged or destroyed. This decision by Historic England comes as a result of a long campaign by the Society to draw attention to the monuments of British postmodernism and the risk they are at. We were the first to organise a major symposium on the issue, we made a presentation at the RIBA with a group of highly influential speakers, and we have organised walking tours and sell-out lectures to spread the word. It is important when making the case to protect buildings that show that there is wide public interest in them.
‘We won an important battle to protect James Stirling’s No 1, Poultry in the City of London from mutilation, and this latest decision shows that we were in the vanguard of the movement to protect Britain’s best postmodern heritage.
‘We supported the successful campaign to protect Sir Terry Farrell’s Comyn Ching development in 2016. KSA and the CREAte research centre value very greatly our connection with Sir Terry and we are delighted to be playing this an active role.’
Architectural historians Elain Harwood and Geraint Franklin from Historic England recently published their book on post-modern buildings in Britain in collaboration with the Twentieth Century society.
Image: Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Charles Jencks’ Thematic House has been listed at Grade I.
On 19 April, Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin joined a review of work from the Azrieli Global Studio at the Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture at McGill University in Montreal. The Studio, funded by the Azrieli Foundation, is a collaboration between McGill and Carleton Universities in Canada, and the Technion and Tel Aviv University in Israel, and brings together MArch students from both countries to explore extreme environments through intensive research and design projects.
McGill students presented their work on sites around the Dead Sea and Negev Desert at a crit in Montreal just before their Israeli partners set off for the far north of Canada. Dr Brittain-Catlin reviewed their projects in a panel with project tutor Professor Howard Davies; School Director, Professor Martin Bressani; Mary-Jean Eastman, principal and founding partner of the global New York architectural practice Perkins Eastman; and architect & assistant professor at Keimyung University, Henry Tsang. Associate Professor Aaron Sprecher and Tom Shaked of the Technion and Dan Shapira of Tel Aviv University also attended.
The partnership between KSA and McGill goes back to 2010 when Dr Brittain-Catlin first joined Professor Bressani’s students for postgraduate seminars on nineteenth-century gothic revival architecture. With Professor Emeritus Jan de Maeyer of KU Leuven, they published Gothic Revival Worldwide: A.W.N. Pugin’s Global Influence last year.
Dr Brittain-Catlin joined a crit panel the following day to review projects from the vertical MArch / Stage 3 studio led by the renowned Quebec architect Gilles Saucier, whose practice Saucier + Perrotte won this year’s Gold Medal of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
Featured Image: Professor Howard Davies; Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin; Mary-Jean Eastman, principal and founding partner of the global New York architectural practice Perkins Eastman; architect & assistant professor at Keimyung University, Henry Tsang; and Professor Martin Bressani.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be presenting his latest research in a lecture at Gresham College on the evening of Tuesday 13th March. This talk will propose the theory that Edwardian domestic architecture was based on a new concept of remodelling or imitating the remodelling of old buildings, especially ones with Elizabethan or Jacobean features. This idea emerges from a study of Country Life magazine and of a series of houses from the period. The lecture suggests that three houses should enter the canon of significant early twentieth-century architecture: Kingsgate Castle, near Broadstairs in Kent; Daws Hill, in High Wycombe; and Vann, near Hambledon in Surrey.
Gresham College is one of the most prestigious academic venues in the country, and the lecture will be attended by leading architectural historians. Admission to Barnard’s Inn Hall, off High Holborn, where the lecture will take place will be on a ‘first-come, first served’ basis, with entry from 5.30pm for a 6pm, start. Further information can be found on the College’s website: https://www.gresham.ac.uk/lectures-and-events/architecture-and-the-edwardian-era
The lecture will be available to downloads or watch online after it has taken place.
The respected academic art and architectural history Lund Humphries is delighted to announce a new series within its revived architecture and design programme: Architectural History of the British Isles. Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin will heading up an esteemed Editorial Board comprised of nine of Britain and Ireland’s top architectural historians. British architectural history has a very prominent reputation internationally and sets the standard for publishing and for the development of new ideas and narratives: this series will comprise fascinating and insightful illustrated books, produced to the highest standards.
Dr Brittain-Catlin’s own monograph on Edwardian domestic architecture will be published by Lund Humphries in 2020.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be speaking on British Victorian architects from A.W.N. Pugin to W.R. Lethaby as part of the series on Architectural History organised for the European Year of Cultural Heritage. His lecture, ‘Pugin’s House: a home for all Europe?’ will describe European influences on one of the most influential periods of British design, and how in return the work of the Arts and Crafts Movement came to play a major role in Germany.
He joins a prestigious group of leading architectural historians which include Simon Thurley, the Gresham Professor of Built Environment and former chief executive of English Heritage, and the mediaeval historian John Goodall of Country Life, author of the highly praised The English Castle.
The lecture will be held at Europe House, the offices of the European Commission in London, at 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU, on Thursday 15th February at 18.30, with refreshments from 18.00.