The Edwardians and their Houses: the New Life of Old England, is the title of the latest book by Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin. It is published by Lund Humphries this Wednesday, 1st April, and is already attracting enthusiastic praise from critics. The book is beautifully illustrated by 100 new images, commissioned especially from the photographer Robin Forster to showcase the canon of houses which tell the story, as well as by 120 historical and other illustrations. Design tutor Patrick O’Keeffe contributed the spectacular photograph of Kingsgate Bay from the sea which concludes the book.
The book is the first comprehensive re-evaluation of Edwardian domestic architecture since the 1970s. It focuses on the role played by Liberal Party politicians over the first decade of the twentieth century in adapting and remodelling old houses as grand mansions or holiday homes for themselves, but also in establishing the legislation that made a higher standard of architecture possible for everyone. The section on the design of the area around Smith Square in London was the subject of a report on BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour towards the end of last year. This book will also become an authoritative source of information about the early years of the conservation movement, and it explains how Tudor architecture in particular was reinvented for modern living.
Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin is one of the speakers at the first in a series of Roundtables on Heritage, organised by the University’s Centre of Heritage under the direction of Dr Sophie Vigneron, Reader at Kent Law School. The event will look at the significance of historic buildings as cultural symbols, and how to address the problems and ethical questions that surround their restoration; i.e. who plays a role in the process? What kind of decisions are they making?
One of the central issues is that of the historical recreation, sometime referred to as ‘pastiche’ architecture, and this came to the fore particularly in the aftermath of the recent major fire at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. Dr Brittain-Catlin will speak on the theme, ‘There is no such thing as pastiche’. He will be joined by the Surveyor to the Fabric of Canterbury Cathedral, Jonathan Deeming who will be speaking about ‘Challenges of preservation for the Cathedral of Canterbury’, Dr Emily Guerry from the School of History on the topic, ‘The history and identity of the Gothic cathedral’, and Andrew Edwards from Canterbury Cathedral Trust who will be finishing the evening off with, ‘Giving for a good cause, why give to heritage?’.
The first roundtable will be on Monday 20 January from 6pm – 8pm in the Moot court room, Widoger Law Building. The discussion will be followed by a drinks reception.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin presented an episode from his forthcoming book The Edwardians and their Houses on BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour last night. This told the story of how from 1900 the London County Council, controlled by members of the Liberal Party, transformed a district of industrial works and slums at the southern edge of the Palace of Westminster into an idealised ‘late Stuart’ residential quarter around the baroque church of St John, Smith Square.
Some of the finest buildings here, including 4, Cowley Street (pictured), were designed by the architect Horace Field, whose commercial buildings look as if they were the homes of prosperous Restoration merchants and were thus the harbinger of much interwar high street bank architecture. Appropriately, this house, which had been built as the offices of the North Eastern Railway, served as the headquarters of first the Social Democratic Party and until recently, the Liberal Democrats. Today the district serves as a fine example of a politically inspired residential area which looks as if it has ‘always’ been there.
The report starts at 45′ on BBC Radio 4’s The Westminster Hour.
Kent School of Architecture and Planning are pleased to announce that we will be hosting a Virtual Open Day on Thursday 7th November from 11.00 – 12.30 GMT.
If you are interested in finding out more about the BA (Hons) Architecture course at the Kent School of Architecture and Planning, including course structure, entry requirements, portfolio advice, then please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book onto our first ever Virtual Open Day in collaboration with KMTV.
The Virtual Open Day will be accessible through You Tube where you will be able to ask questions live, this is the link you will need on the day – https://youtu.be/KLE3pfqc9IQ
This is the perfect opportunity to find out more about the Kent School of Architecture and Planning, and have your questions answered by our BA (Hons) Architecture programme director, Chloe Street Tarbatt, Stage 2 Coordinator, Felicity Atekpe, and CREAte Research Centre Director, Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin who will be hosting the event.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin is among the 88 contributors to the 21st edition of Sir Banister Fletcher’s Global History of Architecture, edited by Professor Murray Fraser of the Bartlett, the first global and multi-media edition of the world’s most respected architectural history textbook. The new edition has been fully rewritten to include expert writing on the history of buildings from across the world, from an account of Sumer and Akkad, present-day Iraq, in c.3500 BCE, up to the present day. The book will appear in two substantial printed volumes as well as online for educational users, and is fully illustrated throughout.
Dr Brittain-Catlin has written the section on architecture in Britain and Ireland from 1830-1914, reflecting his own research interests and incorporating his new ideas on early Victorian realism and historicism. The book will be published next month, and details are already available on the publisher’s website. Dr Brittain-Catlin has also participated in a special webpage on the RIBA’s site about the experience of working on this great and historic project.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be joining Professor Catherine Richardson and Professor Kenneth Fincham of the Schools of English and History in an event on Saturday 28th September that celebrates the treasures of Kent’s diocesan archives. He will speak about the fascinating collection of late Georgian and early Victorian mortgage application drawings submitted by architects that can be found in the Archives and Library of Canterbury Cathedral. The full story is told in his book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century (Spire Books) that was launched at the University in 2008 during the Lambeth Conference that took place here that year. The illustration seen here is the design of 1841 for the elevation of Stalisfield vicarage, between Charing and Faversham, designed by the architect F. Brown of Torrington Square.
The event, ‘LUCIT IN TENEBRIS VERITAS’: researching the archives of Kent’s Anglican dioceses’, will be held at the Kent History and Library Centre Maidstone, and more information can be found about it here.
Tutors on the Stage Two module Collective Dwelling have won this year’s University Teaching Prize for the Faculty of Humanities. The brief for the project, which studied historic buildings in Sandwich and the design of complementary new housing, was devised by Timothy Brittain-Catlin, Benjamin Wood and Patrick O’Keeffe and delivered by a committed team of tutors which also included Dr Manolo Guerci, Felicity Atepke, Jasmine Davey, James McAdam, Tanya Kalinina and David Moore.
The judges, chaired by the Dean of Humanities Professor Simon Kirchin, praised the imaginative and coherent brief and the tutors’ success in stimulating student curiosity and enthusiasm. Stephen Proctor, of Proctor and Matthews, wrote that this was ‘a very ambitious undertaking for students at second year level: not only have the students been expected to engage with in-depth contextual analysis, but also grapple with the complexities of balancing the ergonomic requirements of contemporary domestic space with the technical specifics of servicing requirements and building fabric performance. All combined with the difficult challenge of accommodating all this within a sensitive historic environment. Through a combined enthusiasm and in-depth subject knowledge, Ben and Patrick have successfully infused their students with a thirst for knowledge which goes beyond that expected so early in an architectural education. I have been specifically impressed by the level of knowledge the students have attained in vernacular forms and construction detailing.’
In addition, Workshop Manager, Kevin Smith, and 3D CAD Technician, Julien Soosaipillai have won this year’s University Technical Support Award, in recognition of their significant contribution to the success of Kent School of Architecture and planning by providing essential support for both staff and students, with outstanding contribution to CASE (Centre for Architecture and the Sustainable Environment) research project, Urban Albedo.
The three lead tutors will join Kevin Smith and Julien Soosaipillai at the University’s Award Ceremony on 10th July.
Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be appearing again at events during London Festival of Architecture, this year acting as chairman at two contrasting discussion evenings. Both events are planned by long-term supporters of Kent School of Architecture and Planning (KSAP) in the professional world. The first, which takes place on 6th June, is hosted by Proctor & Matthews at the Oxo Tower, and takes the form of a debate entitled From Boundaries to Belvederes. The discussion, with the participation of Dr Husam AlWaer, Senior Lecturer in Sustainable Urban Design and Evaluation, University of Dundee and Mark Newman, Archaeological Consultant, National Trust North Region, will focus on the definition of settlement edges, articulating the importance of the interface between public and private realms and identifying the thresholds between an inner inhabited and domesticated world and the wild landscape beyond.
The second event, Style Wars, will be a lively discussion on 26th June at the offices of Donald Insall & Associates about the use and meaning of style in architecture today, and it will complement the discussion on a similar theme held at KSAP at the end of last year. The speakers will be the architects Charles Holland, Amin Taha, and Tanvir Hasan, the lead director of Insall’s London office, as well as the architectural historian John Goodall, author of The English Castle and architectural editor of Country Life.
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