Category Archives: Architecture

Pioneering women in Post-War Architecture and Planning

In marking the celebration of International Working Women’s Day on March 8th this year, it is good to look back and recognise the achievements of pioneering women who made their mark in society and broke new ground in their chosen professions, during the critical post-war years. Two such women are Mary Beaumont Medd, a public-sector school buildings architect, and Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, architect, landscape designer/city planner, journalist and educator.

A life in education and architectureMary Beamont Medd (Née Crowley) began architectural practice at the height of the depression. It was Elizabeth Denby, who introduced her to a user-centred approach to design and this concept of planning around the occupants’ needs would become the hallmark of her school buildings programme.

Hired by Hertfordshire’s education department in 1941 and the first architect to be employed by the county, she initially supervised huts erected for the wartime school meals service, but soon moved on to plan for post-war school building within the education department.

When Hertfordshire acquired an architect’s department in 1946 and a schools team was created, Mary joined them. She designed the first school, Burleigh infants, at Cheshunt – it was just three square prefabricated classrooms, separated by intimate courts for play, but the whole of Hertfordshire’s school-building programme developed from that modest prototype.

She made contacts with the best teachers, learned what they were trying to do and watched children in and out of classes. By bringing this direct and – far rarer among architects – systematic observation of habits and needs to bear on designing schools, she acquired unique authority in primary school planning. It was enhanced when she teamed up with David Medd, the ablest practical designer among the Hertfordshire architects.

In 1949, David and Mary married. The Medds were revered for superlatively tailoring their schools to child-centred education. Beyond what they designed themselves, their advice and thoughtfulness saturated Britain’s post-war schools and helped win them an international reputation.

Mary died in 2005 leaving an architectural legacy which displayed her exhaustive attention to children’s and teachers’ needs and their human expression in subtle, modulated spaces, neither completely open nor closed. Working with invariable anonymity, she was contemptuous of fame.

A Life in Education and Architecture: Mary Beaumont Medd, by Catherine Burke, University of Cambridge, UK provides more than a biography of Mary Medd (née Crowley), one of the foremost Modernist architects in the UK. This book critically examines her innovative designs for school buildings in post-war Britain. In doing so, it provides a detailed exploration of the relationships between architects, educators, artists and designers in shaping a new approach to designing for education.

Jaqueline TyrwhittMary Jaqueline Tyrwhitt (Jacky) attended St Paul’s Girls School in Hammersmith and hoped to work for a history scholarship to Oxford, but her father did not allow her to pursue that course. Instead she studied at the Royal Horticultural School obtaining a General Horticultural Diploma, followed by a course at the Architectural Association School in London where she was greatly influenced by Patrick Geddes’ view of town planning, as organic growth responding to the needs of society rather than as a pattern to be imposed on society.

After various jobs and study periods in gardening, agriculture, architecture, town planning and industry, she was, during the war, made Director of Research at the School of Planning and Regional Reconstruction as well as Director of Studies at the School of Planning and Research for Regional Development, positions that she held for seven years, during which time she was much involved in the reconstruction of a devastated post-war Britain.

It was in 1947 that she met the Swiss art historian Siegfried Giedion and subsequently became one of his fervent admirers, translating and editing all his major works. Subsequently her links with thinkers in the international architectural world became stronger and in 1951 she left England for Canada.

The next fourteen years were spent mainly in North America, working for the School of Graduate Studies in Toronto, for the United Nations, and then at Harvard University, all in the field of town and regional planning. While she was working for the UN in India in 1953 she met the Greek architect and visionary, Constantine Doxiades, who became the third major influence on her thinking.

In 1969 she retired from her professorship at Harvard and came to live permanently in Greece. In addition to creating her garden there and giving hospitality to a constant stream of family, friends, students and colleagues from all over the world, she continued to work as an editor, teacher and consultant. The night that she died, 21 February 1983, she was working on the final details of her gardening book.

Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design, by Ellen Shoshkes, Portland State University, USA, is an intellectual biography which, not only details the landmark contributions of Jacqueline Tyrwhitt, working alongside Geddes, Sert, Giedion and Doxiadis, but also indicates their relevance for contemporary scholars and practitioners, particularly those concerned with ‘healthy’ community design and sustainability.

“Just the right amount of provocation for readers” – Demolishing Whitehall commended in the RIBA President’s Award for Research 2014

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

Ashgate are pleased to announce that Adam Sharr and Stephen Thornton, authors of Demolishing Whitehall: Leslie Martin, Harold Wilson and the Architecture of White Heat were recently shortlisted for this prestigious award in recognition of their outstanding university-located research. The RIBA President’s Award for Research acknowledges and encourages fresh and strategic thinking in architectural research for the benefit of the profession as a whole.

‘The judges applauded this outstanding work for tackling an often overlooked area. In covering various points of view, including design and politics, the judges considered the research to be a good polemic with just the right amount of provocation for readers. The author’s passion made the work all the more interesting.’   RIBA Judging Panel

Demolishing WhitehallDemolishing Whitehall tells the story of a grand 1960s plan to demolish most of Whitehall, London’s historic government district, and replace it with a ziggurat-section megastructure built in concrete. The book has been well-received  by reviewers and praised for its originality in the recounting of this largely forgotten episode in post-war history.

‘What an amazing saga. Officially commissioned early in 1964 to produce what would now be described as a ‘masterplan’ for the government quarter, the Whitehall area of London. …The story deserves to be known and is well told by Adam Sharr and Stephen Thornton.’    Architectural Review

‘What might have been a dry, academic investigation into a government planning exercise is instead imbued with wit, charm and novel insight.’    Architecture Today

Adam Sharr is Professor of Architecture at the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at Newcastle University, UK and editor of the journal Architectural Research Quarterly and Stephen Thornton is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the School of European Languages, Translation and Politics at Cardiff University, UK.

Congratulations to Catherine Burke, winner of the Anne Bloomfield Book Prize

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

A life in education and architectureAshgate are delighted to announce that A Life in Education and Architecture: Mary Beaumont Medd has received the Anne Bloomfield Book Prize:  an award given by The History of Education Society recognising this work as the best book on the history of education published between 2010-13. Catherine Burke recently received her award at the Society’s annual conference in Dublin, details of which can be found on their Blog.

Enthusiastic praise for A Life in Education has come from many quarters

‘This is a generous, well-crafted review of the life of Bradford-born public sector architect Mary Medd (née Crowley, 1907-2005). As a means of gaining insight into how to design schools, Catherine Burke’s book beautifully illuminates her subject’s profound impact on the thinking and processes involved… Burke, a historian of education, shows mastery of her subject here and delivers it through a light, accessible style.’   Times Higher Education

‘…this splendid volume, engagingly written and lavishly supplied with over 100 illustrations, is the most interesting, informative and inspirational book on the history of education that I have read in 2013′   Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education

Catherine Burke is an historian and senior lecturer in education at the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge. She has researched Mary Medd’s life and travels since the architect’s death in 2005, while at the same time engaging with architects designing schools today to bring about a better understanding of the history of the subject. Other related publications include The School I’d Like (2003) and School (2008) both with Ian Grosvenor.

A Controversial Subject – The Architecture of Abortion Clinics

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

Recently interviewed by the on-line journal Women in the World Lori Brown shares her experiences and responds to the debate with some thought-provoking insights

 ‘Though abortion and the legal disputes that often surround it are visible media topics, abortion clinics are often pushed to the fringes of communities where access is the most crucial. But what if they were integrated into the mainstream of our everyday space: clinics in malls, clinics on military bases, clinics on high school campuses, and open access to preventative care?   Lori Brown

Read the interview

Contested SpacesLori Brown is Associate Professor of Architecture, Syracuse University School of Architecture, USA and author of Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals, a book in which she considers the relationship between space, defined physically, legally and legislatively and also explores how these factors directly impact the spaces of abortion.

Contested Spaces: Abortion Clinics, Women’s Shelters and Hospitals is classified as ‘Research Essential’ by Baker & Taylor YBP Library Services

Nigel Bertram wins prestigious AIA award for Furniture, Structure, Infrastructure

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

Furniture Structure InfrastructureAshgate is pleased to announce that Nigel Bertram, author of Furniture, Structure, Infrastructure has received the Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media, awarded by the Australian Institute of Architects. The Bates Smart Award for Architecture in the Media is Australia’s most prestigious media award for journalists, editors, producers and others reporting on architecture and design.

Extract from the awarding body’s citation

‘Furniture, Structure, Infrastructure’ presents architectural research through practice in an engaging and deliberate manner at an accessible level that is rarely achieved…the work within this book engages with a ‘fine grain’ context and responds to the city as it is rather than a view  of what it might be . In doing so, ‘Furniture, Structure, Infrastructure’ clearly demonstrates design research as an integral underpinning to architectural practice and careful observation, analysis and the application of accumulated knowledge as key drivers for compelling design ideas.   Bates Smart

Nigel Bertram is a Director of NMBW Architecture Studio, Melbourne and Practice Professor of Architecture in the Faculty of Art Design & Architecture at Monash University, Australia.

Published in November 2013 Furniture, Structure, Infrastructure  is one of the books in Ashgate’s new series Design Research in Architecture which encourages the exploration of innovative and cutting edge ideas of particular relevance to architects and urban designers.

Recent reviews by the LSE Review of Books

The LSE Review of Books regularly features Ashgate titles. It’s a fantastic site for book reviews in general, and covers a wide range of social science topics, including sociology, politics and IR, architecture, planning, gender studies, to name just a few.

Recent reviews of Ashgate books include:

Dynamics of Political Violence: A Process-Oriented Perspective on Radicalisation and the Escalation of Political Conflict, edited by Lorenzo Bosi, Chares Demetriou and Stefan Malthaner

Unconventional Warfare in South Asia: Shadow Warriors and Counterinsurgency by Scott Gates and Kaushik Roy

The Greening of Architecture: A Critical History and Survey of Contemporary Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design, by Phillip James Tabb and A. Senem Deviren

Media and the Rhetoric of Body Perfection: Cosmetic Surgery, Weight Loss and Beauty in Popular Culture by Deborah Harris-Moore

The Impact of Racism on African American Families: Literature as Social Science by Paul C. Rosenblatt

The Greening of ArchitectureUnconventional warfare in south asiaThe impact of racism on african american familiesDynamics of political violence

For more reviews visit the LSE Review of Books

The Greening of Architecture by Phillip James Tabb and A. Senem Deviren

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

  • What are the five most important steps in the greening of Architecture?
  • Which of the early green design strategies can be considered up-to-date?
  • Who will drive the sustainable movement in the built environment, architects, the clients or government?
  • What are the challenges of green architecture in years to come?

The Greening of ArchitectureThe Greening of Architecture: A Critical History and Survey of Contemporary Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design is an engaging book which breaks new ground – contextualizing the development of sustainability in architecture from its roots on the 1960s to the present day.

Co-author, Phillip Tabb on how he came to be involved in writing this book:

 ‘I was asked to write a chapter in a book entitled ‘A Critical History of Contemporary Architecture’.   My chapter was to be on green architecture. In brainstorming the topic, I came up with the concept of “greening” architecture where sustainability became a process of evolution rather than a thing you stick on a building. So, my chapter in that book became “Greening Architecture: the Impact of Sustainability.” After I completed my first draft of this chapter, many of my reviewers felt that it was very strong and should be made into a book by itself. I contacted Ashgate and they agreed, and I consequently prepared a book proposal, which was accepted. I worked between 8 and 10 hours a day on this book for two and a half years’

Phillip Tabb recently discussed the book in an interview with Paolo Bulletti, for Archinfo, where he gives his responses to the questions above. Read the rest of the interview on Archinfo.

About the Authors: Phillip James Tabb is a Professor in the School of Architecture, Texas A&M University, USA and A. Senem Deviren is an Associate Professor at the School of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Turkey.

Contents of the book: Origins of green architecture; 1960s: an environmental awakening; 1970s: solar architecture; 1980s: postmodern green; 1990s: eco-technology; 2000s: sustainable pluralism; The global landscape of green architecture.

More about The Greening of Architecture: A Critical History and Survey of Contemporary Sustainable Architecture and Urban Design