The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

We are pleased to announce that our Director, Catherine Croft, has written a guided architectural tour of Elephant and Castle as part of Open City’s Pocket London Tours. The tour is suitable for walking or cycling and showcases examples of 20th century architecture in the area, built as part of an ambitious post-war reconstruction effort. It includes several striking buildings including Metro Central Heights, originally known as Alexander Fleming House, by Hungarian-born modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger and constructed in the early 1960s.

Those of you who have been on our very popular “Up the Elephant” C20 walks will know that C20 tour leader lives in the Goldfinger building and he has made the below video which gives you a sneak peak into the amazing lobby and his flat in the building itself!

Eltham Palace, 1933-36 by Seely & Paget. Grade II listed

Elain Harwood

During this Art Deco Month initiative by The International Coalition of Art Deco Societies, we will be hosting a special virtual event about Art Deco in Britain with Elain Harwood.

Elain will talk about cinemas, seaside buildings, factories and other buildings in this most fantastic of styles, based on her book Art Deco Britain, published by Batsford.

We’re also running a competition to win copies of Elain’s book over on our Instagram.

To enter:

NB: If you do not have Instagram, you can also email your answers to website@c20society.org.uk.

We will draw two winners at random from amongst the correct answers we receive.

You can also check out the rest of the ICADS Art Deco Month programming here.

Nardini’s, Nelson Street, Largs, North Ayrishire, 1935, C. Davidson & Sons

Competition Terms & Conditions:

31B St Mary’s Road, Wimbledon

Photo: Peter Ruback

We are delighted that 31B St Mary’s Road, Wimbledon, has been listed at Grade II. C20 Society was consulted by Historic England, so we provided some new information on the house and supported the application to list it. The additional details we supplied were partly  drawn from a 1966 newspaper article that our Caseworker, Coco Whittaker, found during her research.

31B was the first of three almost identical houses in Wimbledon designed by Peter Foggo (1930-93) and David Thomas (1933-2019) and built in 1965 by Forrester Developments Limited. While employed full-time in the late 1950s and 60s, Foggo and Thomas worked together in the evenings and at weekends as Peter Foggo David Thomas Architects. 31B was one of a number of private houses designed by the pair in these decades.

‘A Modern Home on Wimbledon Hill, Marylebone Mercury, 26 August 1966

Photo: British Newspaper Archive

31B is raised 2ft off the ground and constructed of a reinforced concrete frame, with brick end walls and large areas of polished plate glass in steel window frames, and it has a flat roof. The house is entered from under a large carport canopy and up three very wide concrete steps. In its style, the building displays the influence of Mies van der Rohe (who Foggo and Thomas had met) and the Californian Case Study houses. Unlike the other two 1965 houses in Wimbledon: 9 Alan Road and 31A St Mary’s Road which have been rendered and extended respectively, 31B’s exterior has been little altered.

The houses are described in a 1966 newspaper article as “luxurious, and […] designed to suit high standard family living. Special attention has been paid to the needs of the individuals in the family” (‘A Modern Home on Wimbledon Hill’, Marylebone Mercury, 26 August 1966). The four bedrooms are organised into two pairs (each pair with one bathroom) which are separated by the living area. This arrangement means the children’s bedroom can be used as a suite, distanced from the parents. Interior spaces are designed to be flexible: the living room can be used for relaxing and/or entertaining, and dining can be accommodated either here or in one of the bedrooms located close to the kitchen. The living room can be opened up by way of sliding doors onto a private garden at the back of the house.

Interior walls are clad in specially finished sapele veneered panelling and floors (which were all on the same level) are made of polished Canadian maple. Kitchen and utility room worktops are created from Formica and sinks from stainless steel. Other fixtures include Californian louvred doors and built-in cupboards. Services were carefully integrated into the design of the house. Light fittings were flush with the ceiling, and the house heated by warm air generated by a gas fired boiler and distributed through ducts below the floor and out of wall vents, eliminating the need for radiators which would intrude on the interior. This heating system was designed by the engineer Max Fordham. As the 1966 article reported, “the quality of ideas, thought and implementation […] resulted in products of such excellence.”

Trevor Dannatt, C20 Society former President

Photo: Ann Dannatt

We were sad to hear the news that our former President and outstanding C20 architect Trevor Dannatt died on Monday, February 15th. I have many fond memories of Trevor, who was insightful not only about his own work, but about that of others too. He generously shared his first-hand knowledge of his own projects on C20 trips I organised to Leicester and Cambridge and the recording we made of him talking about the design of his Friends’ Meeting House at Blackheath, when we were making the case for it to be listed, gives some idea of what a joy it was to talk with him.

Trevor went to work for  Max Fry and Jane Drew in 1943, leaving them in 1948 to join his former tutor Peter Moro and work on the Royal Festival Hall. But for most of his career he ran his own practice, first setting up in 1952, and keeping working until very recently. He produced some of the most thoughtfully considered and beautifully detailed buildings of the century.

An obituary of Trevor has been written by C20 Society stalwart Elain Harwood for the Guardian and one by Dr Neil Bingham will be in the next C20 Magazine.

Trevor’s College Court building in Leicester is featured in our C20 Holiday Stays list.

This year 77 people entered the competition and submitted a total of 143 photos

We are delighted to announce the winner of the 2020 C20 Society Harry Page architectural photography competition. The award was established in 2013 in memory of photographer and dedicated C20 Society member Harry Page and we would like to thank all 77 entrants for submitting their total 143 photos to the competition, and well as the staff and volunteers who have helped make the competition possible.

The winning photograph is by David Valinsky for his image of the Astra Zeneca HQ in Cambridge.


“The photo does immense justice to the outline of the building. It is very cleverly composed to ensure all the vertical strips are in exact descending perspective, they almost look like pipes in a futuristic organ.”

Tim McCoy-Page, competition judge

The judge, Tim McCoy-Page, said: “this is a very timely photo, being of the Astra Zeneca building. The photo does immense justice to the outline of the building. It is very cleverly composed to ensure all the vertical strips are in exact descending perspective, they almost look like pipes in a futuristic organ. The sky is cleverly subdued in grey to make the building pop out, and the overall lighting give the picture an illustrative effect, almost as if it were a book cover. The reflections in the building’s glass, with clouds absent in the sky, is also a very clever touch that makes the photographic detail of the architecture very relevant”

David received the Harry Page Photo Competition trophy, a book of his choice from our e-shop and a Paul Catherall x C20 Society tote bag as a prize.

The virtual award presentation on Zoom with Catherine Croft, C20 Director (L), Tim McCoy-Page and his son Ollie (R), the winner David Valinsky (B)

In response to his award David said: “It is a real honour to have my work recognised by the Twentieth Century Society in this way. I captured this image during an exploration of the developing Cambridge Biomedical Campus. Two years later it is a reminder that buildings can accrue meanings that were not imagined by either clients or designers: in the intervening period world events have made Astra Zeneca a household name and no doubt this meaning will become richer over the next year or so.

The building section is formed by the simple repetition of mono-pitch bays, but the combination of this with the oval plan leads to a view that is always subtly changing as one moves around the curving  exterior of the building. The precise crystalline form seems to realise Bruno Taut’s dreamlike vision of an Alpine architecture and the photographs that I captured of this then-unfinished superstructure now take me immediately to the Alps; the jagged peaks rising above a reflected cloud bank feel like a gift of Alpine landscape from Herzog & de Meuron’s Swiss home to one of England’s flattest counties.”

Tim was very impressed with the overall quality of photography and quantity of submissions. The three runners-up were:

The judge’s comments were: “love the Inception style nature of the composition and building layout. Clever take on what is probably a much photographed building in Canary Wharf.”

Runner up: the KPMG building in Canary Wharf

Charlotte Swindell

The judge’s comments were: “a stunningly dramatic version of a classic – the light on the roof aspects is brilliantly accentuated by the drop off of darkness in the surrounding more utilitarian aspects.”

Runner up: the Sydney Opera House, Australia

Pamela Jones

The judge’s comments were: “a very welcome colourful entry – great composition and brilliantly captured with reflections and the city vista – and a lovely moment in time with the kneeling friends.”

Runner up: the Kunstmuseum, Aarhus, Denmark

Peter Barker

All four photographs will be published on our social media channels @C20Society and in our next Magazine issue.

 

We are currently opposing plans to remove an important 1950s abstract mosaic by leading sculptor Geoffrey Clark from Basildon town centre and relocate it within the entrance lobby of a new residential development. We have also submitted an application for it to be listed as we believe it to be of outstanding national significance. As a reminder of Geoffrey’s striking sculptures, we are offering our article about his work from our 2013 Magazine (Issue 3) for download.

The Spirit of Electricity (1958) by Geoffrey Clarke. The work is
still in place on Basil Spence’s Thorn House (now Orion House) in Upper St Martin’s Lane, London.

Photo: Sarah J Duncan

  • Material World: Geoffrey Clark pushed the boundaries in post-war sculptural technique.

    Download

We were pleased to hear that the immediate threat to dismantle 14 of 18 buildings within the historic Louis Kahn Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad 1968 and 1978  and replacing them with newly constructed dormitories has abated and have sent the below letter to express our support to the global campaign to protect the buildings and give them a viable future. On our 2019 visit to the Ahmedabad campus we were impressed by the sense that this was not only a magnificent example of world class C20 design, but a vibrant and inspirational place of contemporary learning.

Dear Dr D’Souza,

The future of the Louis Kahn Campus at IIM

I am extremely reassured to see the letter of January 1st and the reassurance within it that the Board of Governors of IIM Ahmedabad are “acutely cognizant of the place that the institute and its architecture occupy in the larger community, and of the responsibility that comes with being custodians of the legacy that Louis Kahn bestowed”.     I am delighted that the tender for Expressions of Interest for demolition of the dormitory buildings has been withdrawn, and that IIM has committed to a re-evaluation of options. 

C20 Society is the national statutory amenity society for buildings constructed since 1914 in the UK, and we have been campaigning for the conservation of recent heritage since 1979.   We are very aware of the challenges that this sometimes brings to building owners, both  in terms of practical maintenance and repair issues, and as regards sensitive adaptation of significant buildings to changing patterns of use.    We fully appreciate that the campus as a whole has to have an economically viable future, and that the dormitories must continue to have a beneficial role.   The safety of those who utilize the buildings cannot be compromised and future needs of the institute must be satisfied.   

C20 Society was privileged to visit IIM in November 2019, as part of a tour we organised of outstanding C20 Indian architecture.  This proved extremely popular with our members and supporters, who enjoyed not only seeing magnificent buildings, but in engaging with a range of complex conservation challenges.   IIM was undoubtedly a highlight for all of us, and I am totally in agreement with the excellent description of the campus on your own website where it noted that the “complex instils in the viewer a sense of awe and wonder”.  As this description continues “the closeness of the students’ dormitories to the academic complex-… -helps students take the academic dialogue into non-academic spaces. To quote Louis Kahn, ‘Every time a student walks past a really urgent, expressive piece of architecture that belongs to his college, it can help reassure him that he does have that mind, does have that soul’.”    We were impressed by the sense that this was not only a magnificent example of world class C20 design, but a vibrant and inspirational place of contemporary learning. 

We are firmly convinced that retention of the dormitory blocks is essential to the conservation of the overall integrity of IIM.   We are also certain that this can be achieved in a manner which will maintain their integrity and enable them to carry on being used productively.  

You are to be heartily congratulated on your receipt of the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Award for

Cultural Heritage Conservation for the restoration of the Vikram Sarabhai Library in 2019, and it was a great pleasure to be able to see the exemplary results of this pioneering project first hand on our visit.   

Having made this excellent start, we implore you to continue in like manner to ensure the future of IIM, not just for the vast international community of passionate stakeholders, including ourselves, but because the unique and irreplaceable environment clearly enhances the experience of studying and teaching at IIM.  

 Yours sincerely,

Catherine Croft

Director, C20 Society

Bevin Court Stairwell, Islington, London by Berthold Lubetkin, 1951-54

Thaddeus Zupančič

Our Christmas 2020 Gift List features ideas from our own C20 Society shop and from like-minded organisations that offer C20 architecture and design inspired products that we think you’ll enjoy. We have included items that focus on some of our past casework campaigns. Browse our list below for books, prints, cards and much more.

2. Concrete flower vases by Tipoii

Where better to pop your festive flowers in than a concrete vase made by Tipoii Studio, a contemporary product design studio based between Bangalore and London. They are pushing the boundaries of Indian craft and believe that ‘design is seen as a bi-product of living.’ This unassuming approach, with an emphasis on a quiet functionality, is what inspires and drives their creative process. The vases remind us of the Gawthorpe Water Tower whose listing application we are supporting.

3. Art Deco in Britain Book by Elain Harwood

If you enjoy 1930s architecture and missed Elain Harwood’s sold-out lecture about Art Deco earlier this year, this beautifully illustrated book is for you. Nearly a century after Art Deco first lit up the luxury store and cinema screen, it remains as glamorous as ever. The style – variously known as Jazz Modern or moderne until the 1960s – was transported by ocean liner across the world from its origins in Vienna and Paris, offering a slick of sophistication and succinct design to rich and poor alike.

The Art Deco Hoover Building, Grade II*

Wallis Gilbert & Partners,  1933

A plaster model of Willow Road by Erno Goldfinger

Chisel & Mouse

8. C20 Architects Book: Arup Associates by Kenneth Powell

Written by a former director of C20 Society, this 2018 monograph discusses the work of the engineering firm from the years of the Arup Building Group in the 1950s to the 1990s and assesses the contribution of its leading designers, including Sir Philip Dowson, Derek Sugden and Peter Foggo. The text is based on interviews with many former and current members of the practice. The book is fully illustrated with images from the Arup archive and stunning new photography offering a new perspective on an exceptional body of work.

Southbank Magenta Linocut, 2002

Paul Catherall

11. Frank Lloyd Wright Kirigami

If you were booked on our sadly cancelled C20 Chicago trip earlier in May you may like this set of FLW paper models by Mark Hagan-Guirey. Featuring step-by-step instructions, you follow the lines on the template, cutting and folding to make your own model. All you need is a scalpel, a cutting mat and a ruler. Clear cutting tips help you with the tricky stages, while photos of the finished model show you the final design. To make things easier, the most intricate parts of the templates are pre-die-cut.

14. C20 Architects Book: The Churches of F. X. Velarde

A great gift for anyone interested in Church architecture. Velarde loved patterns, bold colour and gold. The Catholic churches he built in Liverpool and London are closer to European Expressionism than International Modernism; many of them have a toy like quality and come with a campanile like a rocket. Today his buildings seem fresh and playful, but also poignant as they evoke the 1950s, brightening the drab parts in which they are to be found and serving to make both spiritually and architecturally aware those who visit. Re-watch our virtual event with Dominic Wilkinson on our Lectures page.

Many of Velarde’s churches are currently threatened and have been published here for the first time.

18. Lair: Radical Homes and Hideouts of Movie Villains

This book is the perfect present for anyone fascinated by movie villains. You may remember it from one of our first virtual events with its author Chad Oppenheim. He explores architecturally splendid lairs including Atlantis in The Spy Who Loved Me to Nathan Bateman’s ultra-modern abode in Ex Machina and shows these homes are much more than where the megalomaniacs go to get some rest. Instead, they are places where evil is plotted and where the heroes are tested and must prove themselves. See for yourself how lairs are stunningly designed, sophisticated, envy-inducing expressions of the warped drives and desires of their occupants.

Donate to C20 Society

If you found this useful, please give what you can afford to help us identify and save irreplaceable C20th buildings and design.

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A brochure for Isokon furniture (design: László Moholy-Nagy, 1935–36)

Courtesy of the Pritchard Papers, University of East Anglia. Reproduced in Moholy-Nagy in Britain, Lund Humphries 2019.

 

Have you been thinking about becoming a C20 member or gifting a C20 membership and supporting our campaign to protect outstanding C20 architecture, design and public art? Now is the time!

This Christmas, in association with Lund Humphries we will be entering everyone who does the following into our competition:

  • Joins C20 Society here by 17th December
  • Answers our question: What is your favourite C20 building and why? Please type your answer in maximum 50 words in the comment box on our website which will appear when you join as member, or buy gift membership
  • Follows @lhartbooks on social media by 17th December

There will be THREE lucky winners.

C20 membership is only £57 per year and benefits include: member discounts for our physical and virtual events, our e-newsletter with casework updates, C20 architecture & design content and exclusive offers, a free copy of our acclaimed journal, a free copy of our regular magazine, C20 and 10% off all items in our e-shop. We also have concession rates at just £42 for under 30s, over 65s, full time students and registered disabled.

The prize books in our competition are must haves for any C20 architecture fan:

Copiously illustrated with rarely seen photographs and reproductions of his graphic work and correspondence, this is the first definitive study of Moholy-Nagy’s highly productive time in Britain. The book highlights his collaborations and friendships with architects, both British and fellow emigrés, such as Maxwell Fry and Walter Gropius, and other leading cultural figures, such as John Betjeman and Herbert Read.

Moholy-Nagy in Britain, 1935-1937 by Valeria Carullo

Lund Humphries

The first new comprehensive introduction to Edwardian domestic architecture in over 40 years, including a fresh look at not just country houses, but cottages, seaside villas, golf dormy houses, the first barn conversions and suburban villas. It is a considered analysis of Edwardian domestic architecture in its broader context which includes Edwardian political thought and contemporary children’s and other literature, and a new approach to the history of conservation in Britain. The book includes specially commissioned, high-quality photography by Robin Forster which presents a canon of significant houses as well as reproductions of historic drawings.

The Edwardians and their Houses: the new life of old England by Tim Brittain-Catlin

Lund Humphries

The garden front of Rhinefield House, near Brockenhurst, Hampshire, by Romaine-Walker & Tanner, 1888-90.

© Robin Forster, 2019

Terms & Conditions:

  • The competition is organised by C20 Society and Lund Humphries. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are in no way responsible for its content or the selection of the winners
  • This competition is in no way sponsored, endorsed, administered by or associated with Facebook, Twitter or Instagram
  • Multiple entries by the same person are allowed if the person is buying gift memberships for different people
  • The person paying for membership(s) may decide if they wish to receive the books themselves or if they wish for them to be sent to the person for whom they are buying the gift membership
  • The competition will run from 25th November 2020 to 17 December 2020 at noon.

Good luck!

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