Time and Context

Symposium hosted by Continuity in Architecture

Tuesday March 8th at 2pm in the Benzie Lecture Theatre,                   Manchester School of Architecture

Jerwood

All histories are important and all narratives are viable and relevant; the basis of historical existence is no longer seen as a sequence of Kings and Queens, Battles, Discoveries and Political Events. History can be regarded as a discourse; it contains facts, interpretations, bias, and empathy, and all history is positional; it is dependent upon the position of the narrator of that history. Historical analysis is an act of translation; the historian (whether architectural, cultural, scientific, feminist, activist, or any other of a myriad of other focuses) will not be able to view the material through any other lens than that of their own culture. Thus any history contains many different readings and interpretations.

Time and Context : A Continuity In Architecture Symposium

This symposium seeks to discuss the importance of context in relation to architecture and time.

The Symposium will be hosted by:

David Connor was one of the most expressive of the post-modern interior designers in 1980’s London. He revolutionised design with a small collection of domestic and retail projects. These remodelling projects were as anarchic as the clients that they were designed for and included the Seditionaries shop for the ultimate punk couple, Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, and an apartment for the pop punk, Adam Ant. The liberation of money meant that interior design was at the time on the cusp of changing from a very proper pursuit for classically trained designers into something considerably more fashionable, provocative and at times outrageous. Connor’s enormous and expressive freehand drawings for these interiors epitomise this approach. Thirty-five years later he has completed, with Kate Darby, a much more serious, but no less eccentric project: an ecologically sound architects studio.

The speakers are:

Fred Scott was previously a visiting professor of Interior Architecture at Rhode Island School of Design and course leader for Interior Design at Kingston University. He is the author of On Altering Architecture, and he will discuss suggested practices based on the interrogation of the context, the everyday in flux, and the ideal in an attempt to identify a theory of intervention.

Hana Loftus is one of the founders of HAT Projects, a studio which has a specific focus on public and civic projects. She is an expert in public participation in urban development, and will examine two projects; the RIBA award winning Jerwood Gallery on Hasting’s seafront, and the $20,000 house in Alabama, a prototype for families living in poverty.

Hugh Strange runs an award winning London based architecture practice. He has a keen interest in precise contextual responses to sensitive urban and rural sites. He will talk about two projects: his personal residence Strange House and Studio, a low budget yet generous house squashed into an old pub yard, and Architecture Archive, a new timber structure which snuggles within the walls an existing barn.

Gianni Botsford, founded Gianni Botsford Architects in 1996. He will discuss two projects: the RIBA award winning Light House, a new-build large family house on a brown-land site in Notting Hill, London, and the Casa Kiké located in Costa Rico, a RIBA international award-winning double pavilion.

Piers Taylor (The House that £100k Built, BBC2) will discuss the work of his practice Invisible Studio, which aims to be a different type of organisation from a conventional practice. It operates through collaboration, experimentation, research and education. They are interested in going about the process of architecture in a different way – a way where clients, users, collaborators and makers are all part of the process of design.

 

Addition and Subtraction

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Letterfrack concept sketch

RIBA Gold Medal winner, Sheila O’Donnell made an inspiring address to the Manchester School of Architecture as her delayed contribution to the Sinister Dialogues Symposium. She admitted that the title was the wrong way round; the process of design employed by the practice is one of stripping away before making any additions and thus the talk should really have been called: Subtraction and Addition. The unfinished Letterfrack Furniture College and the stalled Good Shepherd Convent projects formed the foundation of the talk; both projects dealt with transformation of institutions, and questioned whether it was possible for the building to retain guilt. The existing building, she explained, becomes a participant in the project, something strangely familiar.

But Shelia couldn’t also resist the temptation to discuss her own Stirling Prize contender, the Saw Swee Hock Student Centre at the LSE, and where better to examine this than in the lecture theatre of one of the other shortlisted buildings…

Scottish Ballet Headquarters

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Recently CiA were honoured to receive a guided tour the Scottish Ballet Head Quarters in Glasgow, by the project architect, Clive Albert of Malcolm Fraser Architects. The building shares an entrance with the Tramway Gallery, and we although we had been warned about the inauspicious entrance, as we approached the building from Pollokshields station, the building did indeed look almost derelict. The SBHQ is actually entered from a staircase within the lobby of the Gallery, which deliberately encourages interaction between the different types of artist endeavour. The building itself is regarded as a place of work, rather that a place for performance, almost akin to an office and so it has a sense of serine calm and privacy rather than the dramatic flamboyance of a theatre. The dancers and all of the support staff turn up for workin the morning, just as the rest of us do.

The exterior of the building is tough, robust and somewhat uncompromising, however the interior is intricate and fastidious accomplishment. The sheer scale of the dance studios dictates the plan, but even so, these huge orthogonal spaces are skilfully arranged around a top-lit communal area. It is from here that the intricate three-dimensional relationships that have been created within the building are visible.

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The timber-clad interior exudes the kind of warmth that the dancers need to keep their muscles supple. The studios themselves are uncluttered and clean. The space is graduated, so that the busy-ness of the ceiling space seems to recede into the greyness, leaving the pure white walls of the lower area to define the studio itself.

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It is the fastidious attention to detail that ultimately defines this building. From the vertical timber batons on the interior walls to the deliberate inconsistency of the colour of the exterior cladding, it is clear that the architects have carefully considered the manner in which the building is used, the effect of weathering, and the experience of occupying it.

Outstanding Academic Achievement

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Continuity in Architecture is very pleased that one of their final year students has been awarded the University of Manchester award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. This prize recognises the truly exceptional performance of a graduate student.

Tom Cookson, who has just completed his sixth year, designed a collection of small structures within an intimate area of the city of Dubrovnik. This exactingly designed Repository for Unwanted Memorabilia attaches itself closely to the grain of the city. It integrates a series of interconnected spaces with the three-dimensional character of the dense urban environment. The project was beautifully communicated; Tom used both computer and hand drawings to describe his vision.

Tom, who has recently been asked to interview by a number of architectural practices including the with the 2011 RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner, David Chipperfield, also won the Manchester School of Architecture Student of the Year award.

 

 

A Grand Day Out?

Winter sun

ManchesterModernist Society are organizing a ‘Preston Grand Day Out’ on Saturday 22 January 2011. All are welcome – see details on the MMS website.The trip will be led by Aidan Turner-Bishop, a key figure in the fight to protect the architectural heritage of Preston from inappropriate development.

The day out will involve crawling all over Preston Bus Station and exploring the local urbanism of pedestrian alienation (‘subways’). The group will subsequently visit an architectural masterpiece – The Harris Museum and Art Gallery …

Details here

Hampstead High Life

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Luca Csepely-Knorr has commenced her studies at the Manchester School of Architecture into the work of the Hungarian architect Bela Rerrich and the British landscape and town designer Thomas Mawson prior to the Great War.

On 11 October 2010 the RIBA, the Goldfinger family, the National Trust and their guests formally presented the Scholarship award to Luca during a reception event held in Erno Goldfinger’s house 2 Willow Road in London. Amongst the guests were James Dunnett, Gavin Stamp, Kit Allsopp, Professor Kinga Szilagyi of Corvinus University of Budapest and László Magócsi, Science and Technology Attaché of the Hungarian Embassy in London.

Luca is pictured being presented with the award by Michael Goldfinger, and with Professor Szilagyi.

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Francis Roberts Day

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The Twentieth Century Society have designated 16 October 2010 ‘Francis Roberts Day’. There will be a coach tour of buildings by Francis Roberts in Lancaster, Preston and Blackpool. Francis will be there to illuminate and explain.

Apparently there has been a problem with the booking system at the Twentieth Century Society which is advertising the tour as ‘full’. If you have had problems booking but you would like to take part please contact Aidan Turner-Bishop on 01772 824154 or aidantb@phonecoop.coop for a place.

Francis Roberts Architects

Portuguese Picnic

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The inaugural meeting of the European Architectural History Network was held at the beautiful Portuguese city of Guimaraes between 17 and 20 June and fulfilled the organisation’s mission to create a vibrant new forum for the study of the complexity and variety of European architecture.

The conference was hosted by Jorge Correia of the University of Minho and his team of ‘sweet, cute and smiling’ student assistants. A diversity of nations (and continents) was represented among the speakers although they were united, as Antoine Picon of Harvard Graduate School of Design remarked, by their shared difficulties with the English Language. Highlights included Paolo Varela Gomes of the University of Coimbra discussing the reception of Portuguese architecture and its relationship to different forms of imperialism, New York University Professor Marvin Trachtenberg’s magisterial reading of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence as an expression of the city’s military confidence at the beginning of the fourteenth century, and a session on “Architectures of the Suburb” jointly chaired by Andrew Ballantyne (Newcastle University) and Elizabeth McKellar (Open University) which ranged from the Palladian Veneto to contemporary Mumbai.

However, the star of the show in every imaginable way was Denise Scott Brown. Despite her advanced years she held the conference spellbound with her subverting of revisionist modernist hagiography and her insistence that the praising of the delights of autonomous architecture should be balanced with a profound respect for social needs and contexts.

Other provocative images evoked included that of the isolated Irish monastic site of Clonmacnoise as a new Jerusalem (Jenifer Ni Ghradaigh, University College Cork), an analysis of the urban space of renaissance Mantua (Janet White, University of Nevada – Las Vegas) the documenting of pioneering Czech panel costruction (Kimberley Elman Zarecor, Iowa State University) and a study of the Swedish social experiment in mid-twentieth century Vallingby (Lucy Creagh, Columbia University).

CiA staffer Eamonn Canniffe contributed a paper to the well attended session “Architecture in Nineteenth Century Photographs” chaired by Micheline Nilsen (Indiana University South Bend) which covered amateur and professional photographers and academic and tourist audiences for the then new medium. His abiding memory of the conference, though, was of Denise Scott Brown fulfilling her wish to talk to Portuguese students shaded under a tree in the garden of the Vila Flor Cultural Centre.

The next meeting will take place in Brussels in 2012. The Call For Session Proposals is here.

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The Postmodern Palimpsest: Narrating Contemporary Rome

Eamonn Canniffe has been invited to give a keynote lecture at the above titled conference orgainised by Dominic Holdaway and Filippo Trentin to be held at the University of Warwick in February 2011

The Postmodern Palimpsest: Narrating Contemporary Rome

«What better place to await the end, to see if everything ceases or not?» (Gore Vidal, in Roma)

The city of Rome has always been privileged in its relationship with Western history: constructed over layer upon layer, from Roman to Fascist empires, with corresponding iconic images. More recently, films by Pier Paolo Pasolini and Federico Fellini have contributed to capturing the changes modern Rome underwent, with suffocating traffic passing dazzling locations, long tracks down shadowed streets and lively social gatherings masking potential violence. These images have been qualified as embodying ‘modern’ Rome. The closing shots of Fellini’s Roma (1972) linger on dozens of mopeds fading into the distant black as they abandon the historical centre for an undefined urban sprawl. The sprawl, the latest metamorphosis of Rome, overlaps with historical images of the capital to form a shapeless identity, a fragmentary postmodernity.

This conference, which will take place at the University of Warwick in February 2011, aims to shed light on contemporary imagined geographies of Rome: it will investigate the void at the end of Roman palimpsest, addressing the following questions:

– Where present and past intersect and overlap synchronically, is it still possible to represent ‘reality’, or possible only to capture fragments of it? Can we still perceive the city as a ‘master narrative’, or do we need to challenge the notion of one city? How can the city be perceived in relation to Italian and to European landscapes? How does the image of Rome relate to contemporary global cities? How is this historical shift represented in global cultural products, and how do they redefine our perception?

The interdisciplinary nature of this event is acutely represented by its two keynote speakers: Dr. Eamonn Canniffe (Manchester School of Architecture; author of The Politics of the Piazza: the history and meaning of the Italian square) and Dr. John David Rhodes (Literature and Visual Culture, Sussex; author of Stupendous Miserable City: Pasolini’s Rome).

More details to follow.

Images and Memory

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Immagini e memoria: Rome in the photographs of Father Peter Paul Mackey 1890-01

Sir John Soane’s Museum is hosting an exhibition from the photographic archive of the British School at Rome of the work of Fr. Peter Paul Mackey O.P., which presents a record of thecity undergoing rapid modernisation at the end of the nineteenth century. The expansion of the city and its new infrastructure horrified romantic artists in pursuit of a very late Grand Tour, but yielded vast amounts of new material for increasingly professionalised archaeologists. The tension between these two worlds, the simultaneous need to record and the desire to compose, are evident in many of the photographs, the ancient monuments seen against modern factories and before the maturing of present-day urban planting.

In his excellent catalogue essay Dr. Robert Coates-Stephens (Cary Fellow at the BSR) places the Dominican scholar Mackey’s images in their historical context of ‘Roma Capitale’, and the social context of the expatriate community of clerics, archaeologists and aesthetes, a society in which the word amateur still had its original meaning. The atmospherically staged exhibition continues at the Soane Museum until 12 September.

At present CiA staffer Eamonn Canniffe is researching a similar complementary collection of material, that of Captain J. Douglas Kennedy, held at the John Rylands Library in Manchester. The collection presents a haphazard but enthusiastic account of the same dilettante milieu.

The room has been evicted from the house

The 6th Modern Interiors Research Centre Conference was held at Kingston University last week. The focus was upon histories and heritage.

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Among the interesting collection of papers was a description of the reconstruction of the Hotel de Ville in Paris. The speaker defined the difference between renovation and reconstruction as the same as that between a painting and it’s copy. This was followed by a detailed discussion of George III’s bed. Other topics included a description of the changes to Glasgow School of Art and the evolution of the Church of St Michael’s in Cropthorne, Wiltshire. Sally Stone, with her co-author, Graeme Brooker presented a paper that discussed the remodelling of contaminated buildings.

Fred Scott, the eminent interiors theorist presented the final keynote address, “The room, its demise and possible resurrection”. This was based upon research that he’d conducted with Robin Evans and it discussed how in the 18C, the interior and the exterior of a building could exist independently. Modernism, and with it the pursuit of transparency, has lead to this difference has becoming unobtainable: “The room has been evicted from the house”.

Artex supplied the pink champagne