Postmodern listings – A Turning Point in Building Conservation

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.

Timothy Brittain-Catlin joins the Azrieli Global Studio

Amélie Savoie-Saumure, Matt Breton-Honeyman and Pascale Julien in front of their joint project ‘All at Sea’.

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 Henry Tong. Associate Professor Aaron Sprecher and Tom Shaked of the Technion and Dan Shapira of Tel Aviv University also attended.

Alexander Bove presented the McGill team’s research findings.

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.

Lydia Liang and Harriet Strachan present their project based on desalination pools
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 Henry Tong; and Professor Martin Bressani.

Timothy Brittain-Catlin to speak at Gresham College

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.

Timothy Brittain-Catlin to head prestigious new editorial board in architectural history

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 to speak at the European Year of Cultural Heritage

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.

Further information about the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage can be found here: http://european-heritage.co.uk/

All welcome but booking (free) is essential: comm-lon-rsvp@ec.europa.eu

The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century

From this page you can access the entire text of my book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century, chapter by chapter. We have scanned the book in its entirety, but if we eventually find the publisher’s pdfs we will upload those instead and thus allow searching for text.

The book had three purposes:

  1. To present and describe the detached house of the first part of the nineteenth century, emphasising the radical changes that came over its design, by means of the wonderful drawings and other documents found in diocesan archives that accompanied the building of parsonage houses during that era
  2. To describe and illustrate the role played by A.W.N. Pugin in those changes more fully than had been done before. I had studied Pugin’s domestic and residential architecture for my PhD in 2000-2003
  3. To present a theory of ‘realism’ is the term I have chosen (based on earlier work by James Stevens Curl and Chris Brooks in particular) to describe the way of designing practised by the Puginite gothic revival architects. In the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Nineteenth Century Architecture, I have defined realism like this:

In architecture, it means paying attention to the physical nature of both the materials and the practical function of a designed object from its overall form to its smallest details: in fact, the realist architect believed that these details should be designed coherently so as to constitute an indivisible part of the whole concept of the building. Most importantly, however, a realist approach assumes that architectural quality emerges from a direct and expressive confrontation with real materials and new conditions of life. Thus a ‘realist’ building can be usually identified by its almost exaggerated approach to solving constructional problems. An early Victorian house might have a tall roof and deep eaves that are obviously and expressively designed to throw rain away from the face of a building, in contrast to the near-flat roofs and rendered parapets of most neo-classical architecture that were impractically vulnerable in rainy Britain.

Specifically, I was trying to move interpretations of gothic revival architecture away from the romantic (which had always seemed to me, as a practising architect, to be improbable) and towards something more professional and, indeed, more realistic. A further aspect of the book which in retrospect has seemed more significant than it did at the time is that house builders of the 1830s in particular saw it as important to build pretty, comfortable, pleasant houses and that gothic revival architects never talked about these things: in fact, architectural criticism seems to have treated these qualities with contempt ever since.

I would like to take this opportunity of thanking all those who supported the original publication and this online version of it. The Front Titles and Introduction lists all those who contributed to the original costs of research and photography. The full acknowledgments are listed below, but I’d like here to express my particular thanks to the late Martin Charles whose unrivalled architectural photography is the true success of this book, and to Allon Kaye who designed it beautifully. John Elliott, Geoff Brandwood at Linda Hone at Spire Books were outstanding publishers and kindly gave me permission to reproduce it here.

This online edition is dedicated to the memory of Martin Charles.

Notes for this online edition:

1. Copyright

The text is my copyright, but you are welcome of course to quote from it providing you provide the full details of the publication, as above. All illustrations are however copyright and you must seek permission from the rights holders listed in the file Image Credits below. The copyright for Martin Charles is held by the RIBA Library Photographs Collection. The actual graphic format of the book is copyright Spire Books.

2. Errata

The surname ‘Ovenden’ which appears in several places in the book should read ‘Oxenden’. Illustration 4.17 on page 206 is not of Railton’s Mathon parsonage my error was due to a renaming of the parish. I will add further details here when I have them. The third error that was quickly pointed out to me is that I have used ‘mortgagor’ when I should have written ‘mortgagee’, for example on p23. I am always grateful to anyone who can point out any further errors. Norfolk Record Office has asked me to provide the following corrected reference numbers for images: Fig 2.2, Lound: DN/DPL 1/3/38; Fig 2.47, Sutton: DN/DPL 1/3/58; Fig 2.53: Rockland St Mary, DN/DPL 1/3/52.

3. Requests from image copyright holders

I am very grateful to image copyright holders for allowing me to put this edition online. I wrote to ask permission from all of them and almost everyone replied. Somerset Archives asked that all plans be removed, so I have erased them.

Book Sections:

1. Titles and Introduction

2. Chapter One: The 1820s: Between the villa and the cottage

The start of the parsonage building campaign, with definitions of the three standard Georgian house plan types

3. Chapter Two: The 1830s: How easy it is to be pleased

Comfortable houses, and the Tudor Gothic style of the reign of King William IV

4. Chapter Three: The cusp: A peculiar character

AWN Pugin and his contribution to domestic architecture

5. Chapter Four: The 1840s: In a state of transition

The practice of domestic architecture on the early Victorian period

6. Chapter Five: The 1850s: A kind of pattern house

Pugin’s influence on gothic revival architects

7. Epilogue

8. Endnotes and Bibliography

9. Acknowledgments

10. Image Credits

11. Summary Translations (into French and German)

12. Index

Timothy Brittain-Catlin chairs Spaces of Memory, Spaces of Heritage

Timothy Brittain-Catlin chaired a distinguished panel of conservation activists on Wednesday 20th June at an event hosted by the Romanian Cultural Institute as part of the London Festival of Architecture. The panel comprised the architect, writer and conservation pioneer Sherban Cantacuzino; the philanthropist and founder of the Pro Patrimonio Foundation Nicolae Ratiu; the author and conservation activist Jessica Douglas-Home; and the award-winning architect Vlad Sebastian Rusu, and the discussion was held to accompany the current exhibition of a number of fascinating recent conservation projects at the Institute.

Sherban Cantacuzino related the history of the newly restored early nineteenth-century vernacular cottage where the composer George Enescu had been born, and Jessica Douglas-Home talked about the work of the Mihai Eminescu Trust, including the beautiful fortified church at Alma Vii in Transylvania. The Cultural Palace in Blaj, restored by Vlad Sebastian Rusu, has just been awarded this year’s EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Awards in the Conservation category. The evening attracted a large crowd and was attended by HRH Prince Nicholas of Romania.

Image: Left to right, Dorian Branea, director of the Romanian Cultural Institute; Nicolae Ratiu; Sherban Cantacuzino; Timothy Brittain-Catlin; Jessica Douglas-Home; Vlad Sebastian Rusu.

Pugin celebration in Ramsgate

Pugin experts will be speaking at a celebration in Ramsgate this Wednesday 5th April 2017 from 18.30 – 20.00 in The Cartoon Room, The Grange, St Augustine’s Road, Ramsgate, CT11 9NY.

CREAte, the Centre for Research in European Architecture at the Kent School of Architecture, University of Kent, will be hosting a celebration to honour their successful collaboration with The Pugin Society and Thanet District Council. The occasion marks the publication of a new book, Gothic Revival Worldwide: AWN Pugin’s Global Influence, edited by Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin of the Centre together with major international scholars.

The book is the next stage of a collaboration that began with a conference held at the University of Kent in 2012 to mark the bicentenary of Pugin’s birth. The conference was a collaboration between the Centre, the Pugin Society and the District Council which brought experts and enthusiasts to Ramsgate from all over the world including the leading Pugin scholar, the late Margaret Belcher, from Christchurch, New Zealand.

These activities have helped to increase interest and appreciation of the valuable architectural heritage of Ramsgate and Thanet, and are a further sign of the Centre’s commitment to local groups.

Dr David Haney, the Director of CREAte, said:

‘We are honoured that the eminent Pugin scholar Lady Alexandra Wedgwood will be in attendance. Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt from CASE will give a talk on his work on the Houses of Parliament, and Dr Timothy Brittain-Catlin on the Gothic Revival’.

Dr Henrik Schoenefeldt, who has contributed a chapter to the book, is an expert on the building of Pugin’s Palace of Westminster and is acting as a consultant for the proposed major restoration works.

 

Timothy Brittain-Catlin speaks on Stirling at the RIBA

Timothy Brittain-Catlin will be taking part in an evening of events and discussions at the RIBA in London to mark the current exhibition of designs by Stirling and Mies van der Rohe for the No 1 Poultry site in the City of London. The evening is entitled ‘RIBA Late: Less is more. Less is a bore?’ and offers a programme of talks, events, film and music from 6-10pm on Tuesday 28th March.

Timothy Brittain-Catlin is deputy chairman of the Twentieth Century Society, which led the successful campaign for the listing of James Stirling’s late masterpiece. His talk is entitled ‘James Stirling: Victorian Architect’.

Further details are available at https://www.architecture.com/WhatsOn/March2017/RibaLateLessIsMoreLessIsAbore.aspx. The event is free of charge and on a first come, first served basis.