Modern and contemporary British Architecture - Crash Course

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Modern and contemporary British Architecture - Crash Course

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Modern and Contemporary British Architecture Crash Course

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Traditionally, British architecture is more about Horizontal than Vertical. The cityscape is full of terraces that are all exactly the same.

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A major change at the start of the 20 th Century was Art Nouveau as produced by Charles Rennie MacIntosh . Glasgow School of Art is a prime example from 1896.

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Art Nouveau – a movement that included the arts and crafts of design and was highly decorative using organic shapes.

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After this came Art Deco, with much more streamlined shapes, although it kept curves and emphasized energy. Saltdean Lido by Richard Jones form 1938 is a great example.

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It wasn’t until after the second world war that British architects started to work towards changing the skyline. The war provided architects with a new philosophy and space to change away from the old styles.

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The Festival of Britain was also another turning point within British Architecture and Design, epitomized by Powell and Moya who designed the Skylon in 1951.

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British Architects then started to experiment with the vertical and the solutions this would bring for space saving. Some were well designed and helped break up miserable inner cities. However, many were poorly maintained and designed and these soon became unpopular. Erno Goldfinger , Trellick Tower, North Kensington

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One of the most successful archtects of the 50’s and 60’s was Sir Denys Lasdun who designed Keeling House with the idea to maximise light to the living spaces .

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One of the aspects of British design is that it doesn’t try to hide the functionality of a building. Here, the shapes are all functional as antennae . Post Office tower 1966 – Ministry of Public Buildings

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Richard Rogers - 1986 The Lloyds building in London is another area that demonstrates real innovation . Real emphasis is placed on the structure of the building. All of the objects normally hidden between the interior and the exterior are placed on the outside.

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This meant that the interior could be seen in a whole new way. Instead of fake ceilings and false walls that made buildings so regimented, it was now possible to see the structure itself.

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More recently, design has moved in a new “post-modern” direction. This is evident in the design for the Selfridges building in Birmingham. The work of Future Systems can be classified within the British high-tech architects as either bionic architecture Future Systems is very hard to define as their philosophy is to always create something new and different and ask whether architecture can borrow design ideas from sources such as Spacecraft, racing cars and yacht design.

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Lords cricket ground was their first major design piece, but they are also famous for product, furniture and interior design. They were also collaborating with artists to a degree unusual for architects, including Brian Clarke, who specialises in stained glass, Anthony Gormley and Anish Kapoor .

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Also borrowing from this kind of tradition and working on an epic scale are Allies and Morrison Architects: Stratford Olympic Design 2012

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However, they also show a sense of attention to detail that British design has when they put as much energy into a car park: Charles Street Car Park 2008

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David Chipperfield – known for more subtle interpretations of existing design. This design for the Barbara Hepworth Museum 2006 creates a play between large and small objects on the eye. It also crosses the divide between the industrial and the domestic.

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David Chipperfield – continues to set up playfulness with the BBC Headquarters in Glasgow 2006

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This creates a traditional office space, but it is broken up with a dramatic space in the middle.

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Lord Norman Foster introduces a new collaboration between engineering and architecture with the London Millenium Bridge 2000. This bridge really uses a very innovative suspension architecture to make sure that the views across the river are as good as possible.

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Lord Norman Foster’s City Hall 2002 is one of the capital’s most symbolically important new projects. Advancing themes explored earlier in the Reichstag, it expresses the transparency and accessibility of the democratic process and demonstrates the potential for a sustainable, virtually non-polluting public building.

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Will Alsop’s Peckham Library 2000 in south London can be read as a textbook case of signature architecture mobilised in the cause of urban and social regeneration. In the nineties, Southwark was the second most deprived council area in England, and Peckham was one of its worst areas. Housing was poor, unemployment high and the GCSE pass rate was a third of the national average.

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Inside the use of pods to create individual spaces is in stark contrast to the exterior.

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Alexander McKeown’s Graham Square (2000) , shows that British designers also don’t want to come across as destroyers of heritage. They want to be innovative, but also respectful of the past. As such McKeown has left the front of the building intact because it is important historically.

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Another major contributor to British Architecture is Nigel Coates: National Centre for Popular Music Sheffield (1999).

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Nigel Coates also worked on famous interiors such as the Liberty store in 1993, fusing architecture and interiors in new ways.

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Laurie Chetwood’s B & Q Chelsea Flower Show Garden (2011), links to our love of gardens and architecture in an innovative way.

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Gareth Hoskins’ HM Prison Saughton (2000), demonstrates an ethical slant to British design that tries to tackle the difficult areas of society as opposed to simply working on the glamorous projects.

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A similar example is the Evelyn Grace Academy (2010 by Zaha Hadid that tries to use architecture to influence creativity and well being.

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Hadid’s designs borrow from Deconstruction and question why things have to have a right angle or what a wall is or could be.

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Further combination of artistic thinking and design comes in the form of Kathryn Findlay’s and Anish Kapoor’s : ArcelorMittal Orbit (2012).

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Kathryn Findlay’s Poolhouse 2 (2009), demonstrates another trait of British designers: their willingness to use traditional materials that have been used in architecture previously.

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