The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

New design for C20 Society website, making it easier to use

 

 

We have been wanting to refresh the C20 Society website for some time, to make it easier to use and bring it into line with the design of the magazine. Now, thanks to a donation from a generous member, we have been able to do just that.

We’ve created a new Action section, full of ways you can act now to help save the best C20th buildings and design. It has all you need to support our campaigns, join up a friend, volunteer, get involved with a C20 group in your region or find out what to do if you want to protect a building.

As well as the latest news and campaigns, the News section includes information from our caseworkers about what they do, so that you know what to expect if you need to contact them.

The event booking process has had a much-needed overhaul, so we hope you’ll find it a lot easier and quicker to book now. Do remember to log in if you are a member so that you get your member discount.

G0 to Resources to browse all the useful information we have gathered over the years, including Buildings of the Month going back to Gavin Stamp’s choice of the Midland Hotel in 2001! You’ll also find our war memorials and conservation areas projects here, links to other useful sites and much more. The database of C20th churches is being spruced up with a new map and will be back online in this section shortly.

Managing this project brought home to me just how much information we have on the website. If, despite all our checks, you spot something that looks wrong or isn’t working, please let us know by emailing coordinator@c20society.org.uk so we can fix it.

Creating the new site started with talking to staff, trustees, individual members and outside experts about what needed to improve. Magazine designers, James Hunter and Stephen Coates, and digital agency ebow devised the design, and it was built by our long-standing developer James Sui.

I am immensely grateful to everyone involved in creating a website which will enable C20 Society to campaign even more successfully in the decade ahead. I hope you enjoy using it.

The C20 Society was delighted to find that Peter Behrens’ groundbreaking house, New Ways, Northampton is for sale. Although sometimes billed as Art Deco, it could more properly be defined as Modern Movement or Expressionist and show the influence of the Vienna Secession – plus it was constructed in 1925-26, prior to the popularisation of Deco. Whatever its bracket, it is a remarkable piece of residential architecture – called by some the ‘first modern house in Britain’ – and a formidable asset for its home town.
The house was designed by renowned industrial engineer Peter Behrens, best known for his AEG turbine hall, Berlin (1909). The patron was Mr Wenman Joseph Bassett-Lowke, who found success as a toy manufacturer, most notably of model railways – and fortunately for Northampton, an architecture buff. Prior to building New Ways Bassett-Lowke asked Charles Rennie Mackintosh to remodel 78 Derngate (1916). Now open to the public, it remains the Scottish architect-designer’s only residential commission in England.

The interior of New Ways has not been accessible in the recent past so it is fascinating to see the estate agent’s details, which show the central hallway and staircase rising in geometric harmony, and the retention of many internal features, some by Mackintosh. The main room, specified by Bassett-Lowke to be large enough for dancing, has lighting and a fireplace both in keeping with its modern style, although New Ways was also one of the first UK homes to have central heating. On the exterior, the stark front facade is bifurcated by a dramatic triangular window that rises up to show its origin date of 1926. At the rear is a large garden and swimming pool.
With a Grade II* listing, New Ways is a major architectural asset for Northampton and indeed, the country. Unfortunately, it has not been open for visits or participated in Heritage Open Days events. Mackintosh’s 78 Derngate, meanwhile, was opened to visitors in 2003 and under the management of the 78 Derngate Northampton Trust, has won several tourism awards and accolades, attracting many people each year to Northampton. If New Ways were to follow its example it would enhance Northampton’s tourism offering as an architectural centre; but even under sympathetic new ownership, with access during Heritage Open Days events, it would offer much pleasure to visitors with benefits to the town as a whole. The Society hopes for an outcome that will enable more people to see this well-preserved and pioneering house.

Welwyn Garden City, founded by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1920, is different to Letchworth, the first Garden City. In that town, home to George Orwell who infamously lampooned its progressive residents, the architectural tone was set by the Arts and Crafts style beloved of Unwin and Parker.
But as Geoffrey Hollis writes in our latest C20 magazine, WGC’s architect and town planner Louis de Soissons favoured a neo-Georgian style, which was to open up the new City in classical spirit, with a low-density and layout in the Beaux Arts tradition, framed by an avenue called Parkway running through the centre.
Appointed in 1920, de Soissons preferred this style for the town’s housing: mostly in red brick and with sash windows. But while he and his associate Arthur Kenyon designed over half the houses in the City, some were more modern with concrete construction and flat roofs. And in WGC some extraordinary industrial buildings were also created on de Soissons’ watch, including the Shredded Wheat factory of 1924, the Roche factory of 1937 and the Murphy Radio Factory of 1954.
De Soissons became celebrated after Welwyn and went onto build cemeteries in Italy and Greece for the War Graves Commission, as well as helping to rebuild Plymouth after the war. Prompted by his WGC initiative the Beaux Arts style became fashionable – then faded as a new era of towns such as Gibberd’s Harlow emerged. But de Soissons left a great legacy in WGC where a bust in Parkway remembers his contribution ¬ and his ideas are resplendent in the new generation of garden cities currently in planning.
Full story in the magazine which you can buy from this site or join the Society and receive it free.

In 2018 the C20 events programme comprised 51 events.  This was five more than last year, but just one elusive event short of an event for each week in the year.  Let’s see what we can do in 2019!

As always, we started the year with our Members’ Travels and C20 Events ‘slide shows’. Our Spring lecture series then began a theme of collaborations in 2018.  With the Ocean Liner exhibition at the V&A and “Rhythm and Reaction: The Age of Jazz in Britain” at 2 Temple Place we decided that “Polishing up the Jazz Age” was fitting.  Amongst other excellent lectures we were fortunate to have Ghislaine Wood, curator of the V&A exhibition, talk on how that exhibition was put together.  Our Autumn lecture series has concentrated on C21 authors on C20 architects, with lectures by the authors of a number of our series of monographs.

To continue the theme, we worked with Art & Christianity on two lectures in April, looking at women church artists and letter carving. We are continuing to work with them and on 30th April 2019 there will be a conference to explore the work of embroiderer Beryl Dean. C20 covers both architecture and design, and exploring important 20th century textiles and the issues regarding their conservation is relevant to our remit. In 2018 we also had a successful event working in conjunction with the London Society with a tour of town halls by Routemaster bus. A Routemaster also took us on a tour of London’s Top Borough – Enfield.

Coaches took us to Compton Verney and Warwick University to view exhibitions of works by Piper and Ravilious, and around superstructures in East Anglia – both days expertly led by Alan Powers. And smaller coaches took 40 people around Thamesmead. This was led by Thaddeus Zupancic, who had fortuitously joined C20 just when we were investigating the possibility of a tour to Ljubljana. Thaddeus led that tour, which was the first of our two fully-booked European tours in 2018.  The second was to Vilnius & Kaunas, led by Joyce Glasser. Both were excellent trips to lesser known European cities and gave C20 members an insight not just into their C20 architecture but also their history.

Thanks go to C20’s regional groups for putting together weekend trips around Leeds, Newquay, a day visiting Jodrell Bank and an unlisted church in Crewe by Maguire & Murray (Building of the Month December 2018), and a walk around the Smithsons’ Bath. In addition, there were many other local events organised by our Regional Groups.

There were walks around various parts of London and two tours by bike, a repeat of PoMo on Pedals by Elain Harwood, and a Span tour by new tour leader Jack Head. Jack will be guiding us – on foot – around Span Blackheath in 2019. Thanks also to John Goodier for his expertly researched tours of lesser known London suburbs: 2018 saw us in Chingford, and 2019 promises Merton and Morden.

In 2018 we welcomed many new event leaders to the programme. Not including lecturers, nine of our event leaders this year were new volunteers. I’m assured that all enjoyed the experience and, after a short rest, are happy to organise more C20 events.  Perhaps you also have the germ of an event in mind? If so please get in touch. We can advise and find volunteers to help either with research or admin.

I would like to thank all those event leaders I haven’t mentioned and also those who write up the events, either for the magazine or the website. This adds to the C20 archive which can be used for research for future events, and often allows those unable to attend to repeat the event for themselves.

Again, I’d like to emphasize that the events programme is run by members, for members.  Without the commitment and enthusiasm of fellow C20 members we wouldn’t be able to put together such a varied, exciting and informative programme and could not continue to fund our casework or to campaign to protect buildings of the 20th and, going forward, the 21st century.  Our events programme aims to be wide-ranging and diverse, to appeal to new members just beginning to explore an interest in c20 architecture and design, as well as providing something new for longstanding c20 ‘eventeers’.  If you haven’t yet been on a C20 event please join us in 2019.

Cela Selley
C20 Trustee and Honorary Events Secretary

Wellcome to Somers Town, Kings Cross & Somers Town, London –Saturday 16th February

led by Joe Kerr

Join architectural historian Joe Kerr on a walking tour through the radical histories of Somers Town and King’s Cross and see the Living with Buildings exhibition at the Wellcome Collection. Joe will guide you through an area which has long been marked by a mixture of social deprivation and progressive politics, which has resulted in an array of architectural and institutional experiments designed to improve general health and welfare. There will then be an opportunity for refreshments at the Wellcome Collection café, followed by a visit to the exhibition. A guided tour will be offered to the first 20 bookings.

Meet time/place: 10.45am, foyer of Wellcome Collection, 183 Euston Road, London NW1 2BE (nearest tubes Euston/Euston Square). The walk will finish at 12.30pm, foyer of Wellcome Collection.

Members’ price: £12.00   Non members: £15.00 book here


A perambulation around Park Royal, Park Royal, NW London – Saturday 9th March  

Led by John Goodier

Old Oak Park Royal Development Corporation is responsible for a major re-development project in west London. The area started to become industrial around 1900 but mainly developed after the Great War. This trip is a return to a site we visited about 20 years ago. Much has happened since then, and more will happen over the next 20 years. The walk will cover the historic centre of Park Royal and include some of the buildings put forward for local listing. We will see some new build and hear about changes in the industrial base of the area. We will also see some industries that have continued. The process of change and the involvement of various partners will be outlined. The walk will provide an opportunity to see and understand what major re-development projects like this involve.

In the mid-noughties C20 campaigned, unsuccessfully, for the listing and preservation of Giles Gilbert Scott’s Guinness brewery. Gavin Stamp’s comments can be seen here https://c20society.org.uk/press-releases/c20-society-barred-from-scott-masterpiece-guinness-brewery-under-threat/.

Note this is not an official OPDC trip; it is led by John Goodier who has become “Mr Heritage” for the project. The notes will contain an overview of the work so far and an outline of future work, and briefly outline the role of various stakeholders.

If you would like a copy of the notes which contains a lot of background information before the walk please e-mail john.goodier7421@btinternet.com for an e-copy. Paper text will be available on the day.

Meet 2pm North Acton Station (Central line). Facilities at the Castle Pub (turn left out of the station) please return to the station for 2pm start.

Finish at 4pm at Harlesden (Bakerloo Line). The Grand Junction Arms and a café are at the end of the walk. There is an optional walk along the canal and back to North Acton for those who want about an extra half hour.

Members’ price £12.00  Non Members £16.00 book here


Stitches in Time: The Embroidery of Beryl Dean – Saturday 30th March 2019
St Paul’s Cathedral and The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ

Led by: Laura Moffat/Cela Selley

On Saturday 30 March there will be a study day on Beryl Dean, the pre-eminent ecclesiastical embroiderer of the late 20th Century. Dean’s work, spanning over 60 years, ranged from costume design and exhibition pieces to vestments and altar frontals for both British and American churches. Her exquisite technical skill and aesthetic eye, together with her passion and commitment to the art form, was developed by her teaching, and in 1955 she formed the Ecclesiastical Embroidery class at Hammersmith College. Students of Dean’s went on to undertake high profile commissions to both Dean’s designs and their own. This study day will examine the context in which Dean’s output developed, her works that survive in both museums and churches, and her influence on contemporary needlework today.

More information about Beryl Dean and her influence can be found at www.beryldean.org.uk

The day begins with the option to view the Jubilee Cope (pictured) at St Paul’s Cathedral from where we shall walk to continue the day at The Gallery, 70 Cowcross Street.

Speakers include:
June Hill, curator and author of ‘Beryl Dean’ exhibition and catalogue
Diana Springall, embroiderer
Anthea Godfrey, Artistic Director of the Embroider’s Guild
Diana Phillips, trustee of the Beryl Dean Trust
Elizabeth Elvin, embroiderer and former Head of the Royal School of Needlework
Peter Delaney, former Archdeacon of London

The day is organised and jointly hosted by Art and Christianity, the C20 Society and the Textile Society.

Meet at 9.15am by The Churchill Gates in the cathedral crypt, which is accessed by a door on the north side of the cathedral opposite to a Paul café to view cope at 9.30am.  10.30am start at Cowcross Street
Finish time: Approx 4.30pm

Members’ price: £40.00 (and concessions)    Non members: £50.00   (To include access to St. Paul’s Cathedral to view the Jubilee Cope, morning and afternoon refreshments, and lunch). Book here

The Nash Route Today – Chris Rogers

The ‘Nash Route’, which runs for two miles northwards from The Mall to Regent’s Park, is probably the grandest scheme of urban planning in London. Chris Rogers’ fascinating walk showed how John Nash’s vision set an urbane standard which has influenced development right up to today. Combining Royal patronage with commercial opportunity on land owned by the Crown Estate, the route has kept its coherence through 200 years of change.

George, Prince of Wales, built Carlton House, and commissioned this processional route from Nash in 1810. His palace was replaced by Carlton House Terrace after 1825, and we mounted the Duke of York’s steps and walked the rising slope to Lower Regent Street (now re-named by the Crown Estate). Two modern buildings respond to the formality of Waterloo Gardens: the large modernist British Council complex (Howard Lobb with Sir Frederick Gibberd, 1970-75) in Portland stone fits in and has weathered well. The elegant Stirling Square by Stirling and Wilford, clad in French limestone, is much quieter than their No 1 Poultry. Further up Regent Street, we saw where the Crown Estate has cleverly inserted a new pedestrian plaza for St James’s Market, with a suave new building by MAKE architects and a gallery for art exhibitions.

Piccadilly Circus was a true circus until Shaftesbury Avenue was punched through in 1886. The County Fire Office – rebuilt with a nice dome in 1924-27 – is an eye-catcher; the westward sweep of The Quadrant then introduces Regent Street, which cunningly overlaid the pre-existing Swallow Street. The unity of Nash’s Quadrant was first disrupted by Richard Norman Shaw’s vast Baroque Piccadilly Hotel, then the rest was replaced by Reginald Blomfield’s plainer version in 1923-28. Just behind is the former Regent Palace Hotel, where Dixon Jones has carefully conserved Oliver Bernard’s wonderful Jazz Modern restaurant and bar.

Regent Street boasts some of the best shopping in London, behind well-mannered Portland stone facades. Liberty’s faces the street with Baroque and a huge symbolic frieze, but behind is pure Tudor of 1922-24, built from authentic ships’ timbers. Oxford Circus (originally Regent Circus North) has kept its proper form, and leads to Nash’s next eye-catcher, the rotunda and spire of All Souls Langham Place. G Val Myer’s suave Portland stone Broadcasting House of 1930-32 disguises another shift of the street line to the west, to meet the Adam brothers’ pre-existing Portland Place. The new BBC headquarters behind (begun by McCormac Jamieson Pritchard in 2000) creates a fine new plaza, but sadly the building is less publicly accessible than intended.

Portland Place entices you northwards with distant views of the arcadia of Regent’s Park. Nash’s Park Crescent terraces were bombed in WWII, and the West Crescent is being re-built again in authentic replica. We saw two superb interiors with dramatic vertical circulation. G Grey Wornum’s elegant Swedish-inspired RIBA headquarters (1932-34) features a triple-height staircase with huge fluted columns, while Lasdun’s wonderful Royal College of Physicians (1959-64) is designed around an expanding spiral formal staircase. Outside, its elegant mosaic cladding is a final tribute to Nash’s urban vision.

Peter Wylde

 

We present our annual C20 guide to the best Christmas gifts for friends and family who love architecture, art and design.

C20 gift membership
At just £57 a year for individual membership (£42 concessions), C20 Society gift membership is a great way to support our post-1914 architecture and design. Members receive two issues of C20 magazine per year, a free copy of new C20 journals, and access to our members-only tours and walks. Please order by 18 December for Christmas delivery.

New Books

The Barbican Estate (Batsford, £40) by Stefi Orazi celebrates the Grade II-listed Brutalist estate, which next year marks the 50th anniversary of its first residents moving in. New photos by Christoffer Rudquist accompany floorplans, essays and interviews with residents past and present.

Two new titles in our C20 Architects series of monographs both feature stunning new images. Alison & Peter Smithson by Mark Crinson (Historic England, £30) covers their career from the Hunstanton school in the mid-50s to their final projects. In Arup Associates (Historic England, £30), former C20 Director Kenneth Powell assesses the work of designers Peter Foggo, Philip Dowson and Derek Sugden.

        

Also published this year is John Grindrod’s How to Love Brutalism (Batsford, £12.99), covering buildings in the UK, India and Brazil, and illustrated with drawings by The Brutal Artist.

Don’t forget that C20 titles Post-Modern Buildings in Britain and 100 Houses 100 Years (both Batsford, £25) are both still available.

Brutally beautiful stocking fillers

Why not carry your Christmas shopping home in a stylish black Brutal Tote Bag (£6) from the Barbican shop? We also love the look and feel of the Barbican’s unique hand-cast concrete letters (£4.75 each), which measure a handy 5cm high. They also have a selection of prints and posters showcasing some of the landmark buildings on the estate.

Brighten up Christmas with the London Underground Lightbox (£40) from the London Transport Museum shop. Continuing the Tube theme, the iconic and colourful Moquette fabrics are featured on a range of cushions, cubes and soft furnishings, starting at £59.99.

Fabulous fashion

To coincide with Tate Modern’s Anni Albers exhibition, the Tate shop has a selection of scarves featuring her beautiful designs. The Anni Albers green E silk scarf is £60, and the Meander scarf is available in pink or indigo at £85. Another Bauhaus-inspired design is the Triangle Pattern wool scarf (£60), designed by Wallace Sewell.

        

Calendar and maps

Blue Crow Media  has a truly international range of architecture and design maps, ranging from Art Deco London, Brutalist Boston and Concrete Tokyo (all £8 each) to the Moscow Metro Architecture & Design Map (£9). If you’re looking for ‘twelve months of Brutalist bliss’ there’s the limited edition Brutalist Calendar 2019 (£20).

A very Happy Christmas to everyone!

Susannah Straughan

Robin Hood Gardens estate, by Alison and Peter Smithson

This half-day tour began at Edgware Road tube station, opposite our first building, Paddington Green Police Station. A short cycle away, we stopped at our first school, King Solomon Academy (formerly Rutherford School, Leonard Manasseh for the LCC, 1958-60). Though it was difficult to see much of the school from outside the gates, the main building’s distinctive upside-down pyramid, on the roof, was clearly visible.

After cycling west along Regent’s Canal, we arrived at Trellick Tower, Erno Goldfinger’s 1972 tower block. Though almost identical to Goldfinger’s earlier project, Balfron Tower, in Poplar, which we saw later, there are slight differences: at Trellick the boiler room, with rounded edges, protrudes from the service tower, and the building’s external timber panels are more intricate. A few stops later came Denys Lasdun’s buildings for SOAS and UCL’s Institute of Education (built 1970-76). Though more famous for his design of the National Theatre and Royal College of Physicians, Lasdun’s university buildings in Bloomsbury are no less accomplished.

Following lunch at the Brunswick Centre, Patrick Hodgkinson’s 1967-72 project designed under the tutelage of Leslie Martin, we continued on to Shoreditch Fire Station, built between 1961 and 1963 and designed by A R Borrett and T M Williams of the LCC. Still a working fire station, its four staff maisonettes on the top floors, set between private patios, give the building’s appearance a uniquely geometric feel.

Heading further east, and after stopping at two more Lasdun projects and the Cranbrook Estate (by Berthold Lubetkin, Francis Skinner, and Douglas Bailey), we arrived at St Paul’s Church, Bow Common (Robert Maguire, 1958-60). Maguire took his inspiration for the church from Brunelleschi’s Pazzi chapel in Florence and Santa Fosca on the island of Torcello. Fr Gresham Kirkby, the priest who commissioned the church, despised stained glass and so commissioned a mosaic by Charles Lutyens depicting angels.

Our penultimate stop was Balfron Tower (1965-67). The earlier of his two London high-rise blocks, Goldfinger designed the building with lifts and services in a separate tower, detached from the main body of the building, necessitating a number of walkways every few storeys. In the hope of dispelling some of the myths about the perils of high-rise living, Goldfinger moved into Balfron Tower with his wife in 1967, living there for two months.

The trip finished at Robin Hood Gardens (designed in 1964-70 by Alison and Peter Smithson for the LCC/GLC, built 1968-72). The estate comprises two main buildings: at the time of the tour, both were awaiting demolition, with one still partly occupied. The architecture is undoubtedly innovative, but the location of the site (next to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach) may well have been a challenge simply too difficult to overcome. Since the trip, demolition of the estate has begun. Controversially, the V&A has acquired a three-storey section of the building, with a view to putting it on display in the future.

Many thanks to Elain Harwood for organising this wonderful tour which took us across London and gave us the opportunity to take in more than twenty brilliant examples of housing, schools, universities, public buildings, and churches.

Jack Head

Our autumn round-up highlights artistic collaborations, including Maggi Hambling and friends, Clifford and Rosemary Ellis, and the Barbican’s Modern Couples exhibition.

Renzo Piano: the Art of Making Buildings
Royal Academy of Arts, London, until 20 January 2019

From London’s soaring Shard to the extraordinary Jean-Marie Tjibaou cultural centre in Nouméa, this show highlights 16 key Renzo Piano buildings and also features a new sculptural installation, ‘Island’. More

Living with Buildings
Wellcome Collection, London, from 5 October to 3 March 2019 FREE ENTRY

This major exhibition examines the positive and negative influence buildings have on our physical and mental health. It includes works by Andreas Gursky, Rachel Whiteread and Martha Rosler, and buildings designed by Lubetkin, Goldfinger and Aalto.  More

Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-Garde
Barbican Art Gallery, London, from 10 October to 27 January 2019

Aino and Alvaar Alto, Eileen Grey and Jean Badovici, and Pablo Picasso and Dora Maar all feature in this wide-ranging exploration of creative partnerships in C20 art, architecture and design. (Above: Rodchenko and Stepanova in the workshop) More

Anni Albers
Tate Modern, London, from 11 October to 27 January 2019

The first major UK exhibition of work by German textile artist Anni Albers (1899–1994) includes wall hangings, ‘pictorial weavings’, drawings and the creation of her influential 1965 book, On Weaving. More

Figure Totem Beast: Sculpture in Britain in the 1950s
Tate Britain, London, from 29 October to 4 February 2019 FREE ENTRY

Elizabeth Frink, Lynn Chadwick and Eduardo Paolozzi were among the young sculptors of the 1950s whose brutal and uncompromising work reflected Cold War anxieties. More

Making Art Matter: Clifford & Rosemary Ellis
Victoria Art Gallery, Bath, until 25 November

The 50-year partnership of Clifford and Rosemary Ellis spanned book covers for the Collins New Naturalists series, posters for London Transport, Shell and BP, and watercolours of the Bath Blitz. More

Julian Trevelyan: the Artist and His World
Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, from 6 October to 10 February 2019

Painter, printmaker and teacher Julian Trevelyan (1910–1988) moved on from Surrealism to Mass Observation and depicting everyday life in C20 Britain. More

The Quick & the Dead: Hambling, Horsley, Lucas, Simmons, Teller
Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, from 20 October to 6 January 2019

Recent paintings and drawings by Maggi Hambling of four fellow artists are shown ‘in dialogue’ with their portraits of her. More

Still showing
Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up
V&A, London, until 4 November

Clothing and personal artefacts that belonged to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo (1907–54). As well as glorious fabrics in silk and cotton, the display includes cosmetics, a corset and even a prosthetic leg (and boot). More

Susannah Straughan

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