The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

“Anything that puts sex back into our architectural conversation has to be a good thing”

Our new Vice Chair is Tim Brittain-Catlin, who teaches at the University of Kent.   He has a new book out: Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, which I strongly recommend.   It’s very funny, slightly arch, and, as this review by Richard J. Williams of the University of Edinburgh, in the Times Higher Education, points out its also” a decidedly queer book”, exploring “what we owe to homosexual experience in our collective imagination of architecture.”  The queer experiences cited  include some of my favourite architects and writers, including Eltham Palace designers Seeley and Paget, and novelist Alan Hollinghurst.

Williams compares Brittain-Catlin to Cambridge University’s David Watkin, but whilst  I find the “teasing, anti- Modernist, High Church neopopulism” [Williams’s words] of Watkin’s writing  sterile and alienating, I loved Bleak Houses, and in particular its premise that buildings can tell great, engrossing and amazing stories.  And as Williams points out “anything that puts sex back into our architectural conversation has to be a good thing”.  Tim is also the author of Leonard Manasseh and Partners in our Monographs series.    

C4303PS. Is the Quality Street tin the apogee of the Queen Anne style or is it this lovely lady?



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