The Disappearing Post-War Britain’s Architecture in Pictures

Starting a Fresh

During the early post war years the world changed dramatically. America was established as the world’s super power and the UK’s former territories of the commonwealth had well established their independence. Britain’s Empire State was in conflict with a new age. Expectations and attitudes were shifting and the whole world was in the grip of a massive drive to modernise.

After the war, Britain needed to convince the world that they were still in the driving seat on the world’s journey for what was to come. In 1951, the Festival of Britain exhibition offered Britons who had experienced a rationed and weary number of war-torn years a glimpse of a better future through new architecture, design and audacious feats of engineering. It had a huge influence on British society, kick starting a process of state-led reconstruction and renewal across the UK.

In Pictures
Pimlico Secondary School, Lupus Street, Westminster, London, 1971
Built: 1970, Demolished 2010.
Architect: John Bancroft for Greater London Council, Department of Architecture and Civic Design
Tricorn Shopping Centre, Portsmouth, Hampshire, 1965
Built: 1965. Demolished 2004.
Architect: Owen Luder Partnership
Detail of Trinity Square, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear, 1967
Built 1967. Demolished 2010.
Architect: Rodney Gordon for Owen Luder Partnership
ueen Elizabeth Square, Hutchesontown C, Gorbals, Glasgow, 1965
Built 1965. Demolished 1993.
Architect: Sir Basil Spence.
David Lister High School, Hull, 1965
Built 1965. Demolished 2012.
Architects: Lyons, Israel & Ellis
Cockenzie Power Station, Cockenzie and Port Seton, Lothian, 1971
Built 1967. Demolished 2015.
Architect: Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners
Park Hill Estate, Sheffield, 1961
Built 1961. Currently undergoing extensive redevelopment, first phase was completed in 2011.
Architect: Jack Lynn and Ivor Smith for Sheffield Corporation City Architect’s Department

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Red Road Flats, Balornock, Glasgow, c.1969
Built 1969. Final six point blocks demolished in October 2015
Architects: Sam Bunton & Associates
Hulme Crescents, Manchester, 1972
Built 1972. Demolished 1994.
Architect: Hugh Wilson and J. Lewis Womersley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All photography by RIBA Collections and their respective photographers

Our Recommended Read

Author Owen Hopkins  has explored the rise of 35 buildings, which were constructed between 1945 and 1979, and has examined how social, economic and political factors contributed to their destruction or regeneration – from Park Hill Estate in Sheffield to Hulme Crescents in Manchester. This was a period when many believed that architecture and innovative design could pave the way for a better future, and now thanks to Hopkins’s contribution we have a record of the movement before it completely disappears. Featuring works by renowned architects such as Erno Goldfinger and Peter Smithson, Lost Futures: The Disappearing Architecture of Post-War Britain is a 128-page visually pleasing must-read for all interested in history and design. Click on the image below for information.

Lost Futures: The Disappearing Architecture of Post-War Britain by Owen Hopkins
Published by the Royal Academy of Arts, 18 February 2017, £12.95 hardback

 

Architecture’s gender debate

Dame and Queen

Zaha Hadid: DBE by royally appointed title, ‘queen of the curve’ as described by the Guardian, a true inspiration to the architectural field worldwide. Taken from us last year at the age of 65, she left a legacy literally anyone in the profession would be exceptionally proud to have achieved in a lifetime. At the time of her death, Zaha Hadid Architects was the fastest growing practice of its kind in the UK. So why does the question of gender gap in architecture even exist? Is there evidence to support the theory that a male-dominated industry effectively drew a glass ceiling into the design of architecture? If so then surely now we are heading in the right direction when it comes to gender equality, aren’t we?

The polls are in

In February 2016, The Architectural Review published the results of the 2016 Women in Architecture Survey.

Salary figures suggest that the gap broadens between men and women as seniority increases. Women are paid £55,000 less than men at director, partner and principal level – a figure that has risen by £42,000 in the last two years. Female architectural assistants are paid £1,800 less than men doing the same job, project architects £3,000 less, associates £2,000 less, and female directors were underpaid by £12,700.

Across all levels of practice women were in agreement that their place in the architecture world had yet to be accepted. Just seven per cent of architectural assistants said the building industry had accepted the role of female architects.

The poll found that almost 30 per cent of all women surveyed felt they weren’t offered the same career progression as men. As seniority increases to associate level,  just half of female respondents reported a good work/life balance and just 45 per cent of those at associate director level think the balance is right. For directors and partners or principals this figure improves marginally to 55 per cent and 52 per cent, respectively.

An equal contributor to the poll, The Architects Journal revealed, “[the poll] paints a picture of a profession where a glass ceiling is firmly in place; women are penalised for wanting a family, and take the lion’s share of responsibility for the care of dependents; and sexual discrimination and bullying are rife.

Our opinion…

A contributor to the Financial Times’ article on architecture’s glass ceiling suggested, “Maybe we should get more women into Mining, or Offshore-drilling, or Fishing the North Atlantic… They’re all male-dominated industries, too…”. This point of view is neither here nor there as far as we are concerned as it has exaggerated and strayed from the issue.

Architecture shouldn’t and should never have been depicted as a ‘male-dominated industry’. Our industry, if we are to trust the evidence presented, must change in order to provide the same opportunities to everyone, regardless of gender.

If you are interested in a career in architecture, please use our Careers page to express your interest in working at MOAT Studio.

Architectural Design Process – How Architects Work

How do architects work?

People often wonder precisely what architects and building designers actually do – what they are paying for? Well, the short answer is design buildings… but there is so much more to our work that pretty pictures.

Very often clients think they only need help through the early stages – get us planning permission and out builder can do the rest! Sometimes that’s true, but there are so many decisions that cannot be made until much further into the process.

Then there are the really important issues, managing costs, maintaining quality and dealing with problems when things change or go wrong.

So, we have put together this infographic to explain the whole process:

Architectural Design Process Infographic

How Architects Work
Architectural Design Process

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As you can see the work up to planning stage really is just the beginning of the design process. At this point we will know what roughly what the building will look like, but we still need to understand how it will be built.

This is briefly covered in the building regulations stage, but when it comes to construction, the builder needs a lot more information – how do the different roof junctions work, what are the internal doors and what ironmongery to they use, how does the stairs fit through the floors… there are a seemingly endless list of questions and decisions to be made.

Sure, you could leave this to your builder to work out, but unless they are very good, then you are all to often going to get the cheapest and easiest solution, rather than the best for you.

Alternatively you can deal with these decisions yourself as they arise. That would work, but you have to be quick – in construction delays are expensive. And are you able to understand the impact your decisions might have later on down the line?

All the key decisions should be made before you get quotes from contractors. When you first seek quotes they are competitive, which means your contractor is going to give you the best price possible to ensure he wins the job. Once they’re on site however, you don’t really have a lot of options, so they don’t tend to be so careful with the pricing.

So do you need a full architectural service or can you manage alone? Well that depends partly on how good you are at managing and making decisions and partly on how much you trust your builder.

Morris Castle Swansea (Castle Graig)

Morris Castle Swansea Conservation Architects

Constructed between 1768 and 1775 Morris Castle or Castle Graig, forms a striking feature on the Swansea skyline. The “Castle” was the brainchild of John Morris, son of Robert Morris – The founder of Morriston (Morris Town).

The Morris Family

The Morris family played a huge part in the industrialisation of Swansea. Robert Morris of Morris, Lockwood and Co., acquired Dr Lane’s Llangyfelach copper works in 1727 and in 1745 opened the Forest Copper Works. To ensure a stable supply of coal to power the copper works, Morris bought existing and opened new coal mines in Plasmarl, Landore and Treboeth. This expansion eventually led to the construction of Castle Graig.

What was Morris Castle?

The ruins were not in fact a castle, but were a very early block of 40 flats, built by Morris to house his workers. In its prime it was home to “40 families, all colliers excepting one tailor and on shoe-maker, who are considered as useful appendages to the fraternity” Walter Davies 1814.

The building was rectangular in form, with 3 storey crenelated towers at the corners. The towers were connected by 2 storey ranges, all enclosing a courtyard. Each corner tower had three storeys and a basement. The rooms each had a fireplace with common flue – with fireplaces still visible today. Constructed from local stone, with block copper slag blocks used to create a low cost decorative effect. The gothic structure was extraordinary, but far from refined.

The building can be seen depicted in its original glory in the John Warwick Smith watercolour, currently on display at the Glynn Vivian gallery.

Today the ruins of Castle Graig (Morris Castle), are a much loved, but neglected icon in Swansea. A landmark building for locals and something of a mystery for visitors. However, the castle was not so popular amongst its inhabitants. Its isolated location, difficult access and lack of water supply would have made it a difficult place to live, especially after a long hard day at the coal face.

Swansea Castle Architects Conservation

Conserving the Ruins of Castle Graig

The isolated position of the ruins are perhaps part of the reason for its continued neglect. In the early 1990’s the northern part of the eastern standing wall collapsed and now lies overgrown with brambles and weeds. Despite this and its continued deterioration, very little has been done to conserve the remaining standing ruins.

However, there is a glimmer of hope. a recent social media campaign to save Castle Graig has once again drawn attention to the plight of the ruins. The Friends of Morris Castle hope to take the ruins into trust, which could possibly lead to the conservation of the ruins and perhaps even re-use of the site.

Lead and Copper Theft

It has come to our attention that members of the criminal fraternity may be leaving markers at churches where existing roof alarm systems have been attacked so accomplices can return at a later date to remove lead/cooper sheet.

As lead prices are rising again this may prompt an increase in thefts, please can you alert your members to be on the lookout for this type of suspicious activity

Where roof alarms are installed any activations or problems should be treated as serious & immediate threats and immediately addressed

Where properties are targeted we would advise owners/occupiers to:

  • contact the alarm company to check the system
  • contact the Police to tip them off about any possibly suspicious alarm activations, even where no obvious attacks on the roof have been made (yet!)

copper and lead stolen from church roof

Ecclesiastical Insurance

5 of Gaudis Most Inspirational Buildings

No other Architect has had such influence on a city, as Gaudi had on Barcelona. His unique organic style, inspired by nature is loosely based on the Art Nouveaux style with Moorish and Gothic influences. Unlike most architects, Gaudí rarely drew detailed plans of his work. He used three dimensional scale models, enabling him to sculpt them from his imagination. Six of Guadi’s buildings have been designated World Heritage sites, which is testament to his creativity and originality.

Casa Vicens

Completed in 1889 Casa Vicens demonstrates the Moorish influence on Gaudi’s work. The building was constructed using undressed stone and rough red bricks, and finished coloured ceramic tiles. The finish was influenced by the owner -Manual Vicens, a wealthy tile and brick manufacturer. The building is still used as a private residence, so cannot be visited by the public.

Casa Battllo

Casa Battlló is an architectural masterpiece inspired by dragons. This is most evident in the striking roof, with it’s pearlescent blue-green dragonscale tiles. Large vaulted ceilings and parabolic arches continue the dragon inspired theme throughout the interior, where Gaudi’s meticulous attention to detail is evident in every element, right down to the door handles.

Park Guell

Originally intended as a housing estate, Park Guell was at the time unsuccessful, with only two houses being built. Now however it is a must see for millions of tourists visiting Barcelona. Gaudi himself lived in one of the houses – although not designed by himself the house is now a museum, displaying many of his original works. In 1969 it was declared a historical artistic monument of national interest. The park itself is now a municipal garden, providing a peaceful haven in the centre of one of the worlds busiest cities.

Casa Mila

 

Casa Milà, better known as La Pedrera, meaning the ‘The Quarry’), was built between 1906–1912. It is located at 92, Passeig de Gràcia in the Eixample district of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. The design was very controversial in it’s time, receiving a mixed reception from local people. Many declared the buildings undulating stone facades and wrought iron balconies a monstrosity. Now however it is one of Barcelona’s tope tourist attractions and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. From an architectural perspective the building is quite innovative, including many features that even today would be considered modern, such as the underground car park, steel framed structure, with curtain walling and of course the self supported stone facade.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia is perhaps Barcelona’s most iconic building. Work began well over a century ago, and continues to this day. It’s planned completion date is the year 2026 – 100 years after Gaudi’s death. To some La Sagrada Familia is the pinnacle of architectural design. A building like no other on this planet, from the mind of an unrivalled genius. The building dominates Barcelona’s skyline, however up close it can be a little difficult to fully absorb the building. Unlike many other great buildings – particularly those in Rome, which are usually set in a large Piazza, there is hardly any grounds surrounding La Sagrada Familia.

How Will President Trump Affect Climate Change?

Green architect
Many climate activists were in fear that Donald Trump’s US win would be a death knell for renewable energy. Yet despite Trump’s love for coal, there will not be a decline in renewable energy. Renewable energy is not going to be driven by fear of climate change, or concern for the environment, but by simple economics. Coal is expensive. It’s difficult and dangerous to extract and causes all sorts of health problems for coal miners, their families and neighbours… and then there’s the pollution…

Solar Energy

UAE recently broke the record for generating electricity from solar for less than 3 cents per kilowatt-hour i.e. almost half the average global cost of coal. So while the US may be turning it’s back on green technologies, the rest of the world will not. As technology improves to become more reliable and more affordable, sun rich regions, such as India, Africa, Latin America will move towards solar energy. Assuming that energy storage technology continues to improve with the fall in prices, solar power will become highly competitive even after the sun sets.

Wind and Wave Power

Island and coastal nations will start to move towards wind and wave power as already demonstrated by the huge investment in the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project, which is almost certainly going to proceed – and this is just the beginning. Numerous other sites have already been identified for future developments, just as soon as the concept has been approved.

India and China to Lead the World on Climate Change

India and China are among the top polluters of the world. As the workshop of the world, these two countries are key in thindiae battle against climate change.
China has recently announced that, they would invest at least $361 billion into renewable energy by the year 2020, although they have not confirmed how that money will be spent. We do know that China is investing heavily into battery technology, electrical distribution and photovoltaics. According to International Energy Agency 3.5 million of the current 8 million renewable energy jobs in the world are based in China.
India, is keen to be the world leader in renewable energy. They have already made an unprecedented commitment to produce 175 gigawatts of renewable energy by the year 2022, at the Paris climate conference. To achieve this target India has recently announced an investment of $1.8 billion to enhance solar powered transmission lines. A special green corridor is in the making, which will transmit 20 gigawatts of power. 31 solar parks across 21 states have been created. India has already added around 19 gigawatt of renewable energy to their power supply in past 4 years. In 2015 alone, India invested $10 billion in the renewable sector. By the year 2030 India is also planning a big shift towards electric transportation, moving them from the worlds workshop to the worlds power supply.
If we ignore the environmental and health benefits of clean energy (not that these aren’t important!) and focus instead only on the economic benefits (the things that drive political and business decisions), renewable energies are clearly the future.
So back to the US of A. Is America really going to allow the rest of the world to overtake them on green technologies?