Category Archives: Architecture

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

Urban Maps, by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn

Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City is now available in paperback. Written by Richard Brook and Nick Dunn from Manchester School of Architecture, the book considers the city and the ‘devices’ that define the urban environment.

Layout 1‘Urban Maps provides an interesting new way of “minding the gap” between the contemporary urban condition and architectural design. Calling on familiar and well-loved theoretical friends like Walter Benjamin, but also bringing in exciting new contenders such Thomas de Quincey, the narrators interrogate an interdisciplinary array of projects from graffiti to branded environments. The map is posited as a central element of design behaviour, and Brook and Dunn argue convincingly that to address today’s pressing urban issues architecture must move outside its normal frames of reference, and engage with a new vocabulary and conceptual framework comprising images, networks, films, marks and objects.’   Jane Rendell, The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, UK, author of The Pursuit of Pleasure (2001), Art and Architecture (2006), Site-Writing (2010)

‘Fifty years ago, Kevin Lynch offered us a classical reading of “the image of the city” based on a waning ideal of clear built landmarks and distinct urban signs. Now, through inspired insights and an in-depth inquiry into a vast array of contemporary urban practices, the authors of Urban Maps reveal to us how the complex narratives currently converging in the appropriation and redefinition of an eroded urban space require a totally revamped cognitive mapping… From the readings of cinema to the interventions of street art, from the markings of graffiti to the identities of brandscapes, and from the wanderings of contemporary art to the fictional drives of theory, architecture is confronted with the need to review the cartography of its references when facing the ascendancy of the urban condition – and the prominence of new networked, information-augmented realities – as substituting for previous conceptions of the city.’   Pedro Gadanho, architect, curator and writer, Lisbon, Portugal

The texts within Urban Maps offer an interdisciplinary discourse and critique of the complex systems, artifacts, interventions and evidences that can inform our understanding of urban territories; on surfaces, in the margins or within voids. The diverse media of arts practices as well as commercial branding are used to explore narratives that reveal latent characteristics of urban situations that conventional architectural inquiry is unable to do.

Richard Brook and Nick Dunn write in the preface to the book:

We use the term ‘map’ loosely to describe any form of representation that reveals unseen space, latent conditions or narratives in and of the city. Maps, by their characteristics, show us interpretations of context and can be singularly focused to expose particular essences of space and place, whether experientially or thematically driven. As both the physical and social make-up of our cities is increasingly complex, the tools with which we view the urban environment too become diverse in media and application.

Maps can be made inside films and within networks; objects and marks yield their own discourse and narratives about space and brand has consumed, demarcated and achieved cognitive presence in our vision of the city. All of these entities are discussed in this book in respect of their meaning and interpretation in the context of urban critique, using case studies to explore particular practice or themes of each. Certain practitioners or practices cross the classifications formed here and the interrelationship of the chapters is inevitable, the collective texts describe a breadth of works, conditions and objects that have been explored in the studio teaching of architecture and urban design in our work at the Manchester School of Architecture.

The association between the arts and architecture is rarely called into question, the proximities are considered explicit and there persists an assumption that these relationships are easily read and ideologies transposed between disciplines. As the study of architecture moves steadily towards concerns of urban space and the life between buildings, there can be value ascribed to the repositioning of a critique of the practice of the arts associated with the urban environment.

Discourse around ‘the urban’ has superseded ‘the city’ as the generic ‘environment’ that crosses academic disciplines and the sheer proportion of the global population that live in urban conditions has made this territory essential to a contemporary critique of intervention. Intervention is a far-reaching term that has been used to describe any number of acts, marks, forms, dispositions, transformations and records that are constructed of more than their formal content to expose, examine and question the nature of space and environment. It is unsurprising that the act of intervention whether exploratory, on paper, or realized has become part of the mode of inquiry within contemporary architecture.

The evolution of practice concerned with the latent condition of the urban environment took place as critique of the city found a place in academia through the emergence of map-based models used in sociological analyses of city form, dispersal and zoning. The application of abstract ideas and geometries concerned with the manufacture of space grew from the postmodern tradition in architecture and gained notoriety in the critical cul-de-sac of the Deconstructivist movement. The leap made by Hadid and Koolhaas to depart this imposed stylistic affliction did not leave behind the techniques of map-based intervention as design code and generator, and these practices become paramount as we are forced to engage with a fast burgeoning datascape that is somehow connected to our physical landscape.

More information about Urban Maps: Instruments of Narrative and Interpretation in the City

A Life in Education and Architecture – Mary Beaumont (Crowley) Medd

burke_series 1324 cover.QXD:a life in educationCatherine Burke’s book on the architect Mary Beaumont (Crowley) Medd was reviewed by Harriet Harriss earlier this year in the Times Higher Ed

Burke, a historian of education, shows mastery of her subject here and delivers it through a light, accessible style… Burke’s book offers everything from an education and practice manifesto to a compelling romance. The narrative overlays within the text capture valuable insights into the infrastructure of key design projects, including clients, creative collaborators and educators working towards a common enterprise.

You can read Catherine Burke’s full introduction to the book on the Ashgate website, but to whet your appetite, here is an edited extract:

The architect Mary Beaumont Crowley (1907–2005), was one of a number of individuals who, in the twentieth century, devoted their professional lives in pursuit of a form of education for children and young people that would be best described as child centered in its values, principles, practices and essential humanity. During her professional career, she advised on the educational principles that should underpin the design of many buildings later listed as of historical and architectural significance, and her methods of detailed observation and evaluation of the work of children and teachers in schools earned her a reputation among educationalists in England as the key player behind the changes in the design of schools achieved during the second half of the twentieth century.

This book is addressed to educators and architects who are interested in the perennial question – what makes a good school? Mary was one of a generation of architects who designed schools for the public sector in the post war years during the largest and most extended British school building programme of the twentieth century.

The impetus behind this book was a hunch and a question about relationships in educational history. Returning by train from visiting a nursery in Nottingham one Friday in June 2005, I read about the life of Mary (Crowley) Medd in her obituary, jointly authored for The Guardian by architectural historians, Andrew Saint and Lynne Walker. I read for the first time about Mary, acknowledged as a driving force for change among a team of predominantly male architects in the Ministry of Education where she made contacts with the best teachers, learned what they were trying to do and watched children in and out of classes … and 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.

The hunch I had, and thereafter tried to follow, was that Mary as a female architect was able to establish a special and unique form of empathy with the predominantly female teaching force in primary schools at the time. I wondered whether as a woman, she was advantaged in acquiring a special understanding of the relationships that underpinned pedagogy and its development. In so doing, I began to question whether it was this special understanding that had fostered in post-war England the emergence of a new and rich knowledge about key relationships between pedagogy and the material context of schools.

As in much historical research, one’s initial notions become challenged in the process of seeking out the evidence and exploring the wider context. However it soon became clear that there were indeed significant relationships that shaped Mary’s life and practice that fundamentally influenced her approach to the design of schools for young children. Uncovering the nature of these relationships became the substance of this book and particularly how they found expression through Mary’s endeavours to further innovative educational practice within public schooling in post-war England and Wales.

Since her death in 2005, Mary’s papers, consisting of a substantial archive of diaries, photographic albums, letters, plans and publications, have been deposited in the Newsam Archive at the Institute of Education, University of London. These complement an existing archive of materials related to the activities of the Architect and Buildings Branch of the Ministry of Education (later DES). Mary’s personal papers contain materials relating to her infancy and childhood, family life and school days at several schools including Bedales; study in Switzerland; experiences as a student at the Architectural Association from 1927–1932; travel in Europe, including influential visits to Scandinavia; work on housing during the 1930s; wartime planning at the Hertfordshire Education Department; travel during the immediate post-war period; marriage and professional work with David Medd including substantial international engagement; and consultancy work both at home and abroad in retirement.

These documents, of a life well lived, have shaped the narrative of this book. The archive has also shaped the research journey I have taken over the years since Mary Crowley’s death. Questions raised by reading diary entries and travel journals and browsing plans prompted meetings and conversations with her husband David Medd. I met David on several occasions and talked for hours about Mary’s personality and career in the house at Harmer Green, Welwyn North that she and he had designed together in the early 1950s. Surrounded by the garden she had loved and nurtured, the piano she played so well over many decades, the furniture designed by David and the lampshades by Alvar Aalto, I tried to understand the extraordinary impact of this modest character who was, according to those who knew her best, so frustratingly self-effacing yet exceedingly driven.

David took a great interest in my efforts to understand Mary’s contribution to the design of schools in the twentieth century and in addition to the meetings, wrote me scores of letters, each one handwritten and densely filled with notes of detail that enriched the research. But David told me, ‘you want to get in a bit more – you want to give the impression you’ve done more than reading!’ From these conversations and letters the international scope of Mary’s influence and influences became more apparent and so, taking David’s suggestion seriously, part of my efforts to understand Mary eventually included visiting some of the places that were of especial importance in her life and career. To understand as fully as possible some of the references Mary made in her diaries, I journeyed to these places and tried to see through her eyes and sense through the images she made in pen and ink, the past as she experienced it. Following in Mary’s footsteps, I tried to estimate to what extent it is true that ‘in different places we are different people’.

Architectural history need not be just about buildings or architects but can also be about relationships, values and how these inform the process of architectural practice. Therefore, the book is structured around different aspects of the relationship between education and architecture that shaped Mary’s life and legacy. It explores the significance and impact of a rich and long life whose earliest years were spent at a time of great change in the worlds of education and architecture, when the teaching profession was becoming established and when pupils were coming to be viewed in new ways that suggested the need to make arrangements for a completely new concept of a school.

Alongside a new view of the developing child in an appropriate environment there was at the same time emerging a new modernist architecture with an emphasis on function and social value. Each chapter in this book is organized around the available documentation that reveals the significant places, architecture, art and friendships that featured during Mary’s long life, the projects she engaged with and the individuals and communities of educators, artists and designers with whom she was associated.

In the twenty-first century, when planned renewal of school building stock is high on government agendas across the world, this life that brought together education and architecture so successfully is highly relevant. The examples discussed consider the legacy that connects Mary Crowley’s life with contemporary concerns of educators and architects who are challenged with the responsibility of designing schools for a rapidly changing world.

Of course there are many more avenues that this account could have taken. The many years of dedicated consultancy work across the world in Mary’s later years have not been covered in any detail but there is a summary of the substantial contribution Mary made across the world during these years. Nor have I considered the many musical, dramatic and artistic interests she pursued with her husband. These gaps will be filled by others who might be inspired to take up one or more of the roads left unexplored here. The emphasis has been on redressing the balance between the large and noisy histories of architects who have designed schools with this account that argues for the importance of telling the quiet stories in nurturing children and designing for education.

About the Author: Dr 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.

More about A Life in Education and Architecture: Mary Beaumont Medd

Architects Journal review of Nationalism and Architecture edited by Raymond Quek, Darren Deane and Sarah Butler

Posted by Fiona Dunford, Marketing Executive

An entertaining review of the book Nationalism and Architecture appeared in a recent edition of the Architects Journal written by James Pallister.

From the review:

Back in the pre-unification Germany of 1850, King Maximillian of Bavaria initiated a competition to invent a new architectural style to be used at an institution of higher learning.

Quek writes in his introduction that the demand for a new style to be invented ab initio alarmed the Germanic art intellectuals. It did, however, illustrate the paradoxical challenge of nationalistic architecture: overtly expressing something which is latently manifest.

The editors contend that, unlike regionalism, nationalism is under-represented in academic literature and that most is gained by looking at case studies from across the globe.

Hence the essays include case studies on Lewis Mumford’s quest for a Jewish architecture, the impact of post-war church architecture on Irish immigrant identity, Louis Kahn’s American institutions and Alvar Aalto’s Finland.

Murray Edelman characterises architectural nationalism as the ‘relocation from the here and now to the remote past or anticipated future’. Different attitudes to national architecture can be expressed in buildings of the same era, and Quek gives the example of the Palace of Westminster and Buckingham Palace, both built in the 19th century.

Westminster, in high Gothic Revival, associated the ‘ascendant middle classes [and] their modern, democratic society’ with a medievalist past, while the stolid Neoclassicism of Buckingham Palace and its tripartite symmetry articulated British unity under monarchy, and its association with European royalty and classical architecture.

With the Scottish referendum looming and our relationship with Europe under closer examination, we may soon see yet more debates on nationalism and architecture.

Read the full review

Nationalism and ArchitectureNationalism and Architecture is edited by Raymond Quek, Bond University, Institute of Sustainable Development and Architecture, Australia, Darren Deane, Manchester School of Architecture, UK and Sarah Butler, The New School for Design, New York, USA

More books in the Ashgate studies in Architecture  series