Mediating Modernism: Architectural Cultures in Britain by Andrew Higgott

By Andrew Higgott

In this good illustrated quantity, Andrew Higgott demonstrates how architectural books and journals have created 20th century architectural tradition in Britain.

Mediating Modernism discusses the courses, language and pictures which, within the act of 'describing', 'interpreting' or 'illustrating' the structure, have created it in architectural discourse. Whilst numerous fresh books have substantially re-thought the build of modernism, this can be the 1st publication to re-think modernism with regards to British architecture.

This wealthy paintings introduces structure students to this important, yet principally untouched sector of architectural heritage and applies techniques of rethinking to the improvement of extra complicated interpretations of British architecture.

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It is to a great extent through Hastings that the Architectural Review made and maintained its overall reputation: a series of campaigns continuing into the 1950s and 1960s were concerned with the visual quality (or lack of it) of British towns. 20 Against these prevailing preoccupations, what became Richards’ campaign for the Modern Movement sometimes made for strange juxtapositions in the AR. Next to the dramatically illustrated coverage of a white-walled and sharp-edged representative of advanced and progressive ideas might be a feature on Dutch gables in East Anglia, or Baroque churches in Moravia.

But the decade also saw the survival of Blomfield and Cooper, and thriving practices with a traditional view of architecture continued beyond it. R. Yerbury with distinctly un-modernist layout, in the Architect and Building News, 1929. (RIBA) headquarters in London and James and Pierce with Norwich City Hall. R. Yerbury, 1929. underground station had a clear Swedish source; in 1930 he and Frank Pick had toured northern Europe, specifically in the footsteps of Robertson and Yerbury. There was also work influenced by Dudok, such as Hornsey and Greenwich town halls and numerous pithead baths; at a slightly later date there were many versions of Mendelsohn’s Schocken shop and Universum cinema, notably the Peter Jones store in Sloane Square, London, by Crabtree.

38 48 THE MISSION OF MODERNISM The review article ‘The Idea behind the Idea’ by Richards has much on a philosophy of health as preventative practice, which links happily with his eagerness for the social improvement which architecture might bring about: Peckham might well have been a perfect building. He later moves on to architectural qualities: ‘the detailed layout of each floor is a good example of the ultimate simplification of which really good planning consists’. ’39 The most cursory look at the Architectural Review of the 1930s will disclose that over half of the pages of each issue do not carry editorial material; neither manifestos, commentaries, critiques, nor the coverage of new buildings.

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