Architect and academic Mark Prizeman launches the 2018 London Society Saturday Morning Architecture School series looking at the peaceful bit between the two world wars. A lot of London was built and invented in the 1920s and ‘30s.
Society and technology came forward to decide how what and where the metropolis was built. A common desire for health, open space and free movement developed a particular interwar vernacular, both in the sprawling semi-detached suburbs and in the civic centres.
Tube stations, phone boxes, cinemas, police stations, shopping arcades, cigarette factories, lidos, aerodromes and zoos all gave a cultural fabric to the new garden suburbs. Private motor transport gave a greater public greater mobility which in turn created a greater public discussion of design and architecture.
Looking at buildings built by the small volume house builder along with those produced by architects of the time both little known and celebrated such as Gilbert Scott, Charles Holden and H.S. Goodhart-Rendel one sees a particular local working out of the modern world. Styles and aspirations such as Art Deco, Mock Tudor, Liner, Egyptian revival, Jazz and Psuedish in a city that just begins to build a handful of international Modernist buildings before the next War changes everything yet again.
Cass Cities and the Architecture and Urbanism MA are delighted to partner with the London Society in bringing to you two 'Saturday Schools' on Architecture and Planning. Two series of five Saturday morning sessions in June and September, in which eminent and lively speakers cover topics relevant to the past, present and future of London at a variety of scales, from building to city.
The planning system is a complex world of jargon-filled regulations, inscrutable maps and emotionally charged meetings. It is inhabited by an unseemly mixture of politicians, developers and consultants, with ordinary local people often bearing the brunt of their deals in the high streets and neighbourhood roads where we live. It is often blamed for blighting our beloved places with ugly buildings, and yet is similarly accused of holding back the development we need to meet pentup housing demand.
Planning is one of the most visible and potent outworkings of our democracy. It is the forum that safeguards by law our rights as citizens to influence the places we live and work in the city.
How then do we engage with the planning system? Why did some parts of London end up the way they did? What (or who) are the main forces at work in shaping urban form? How can we value the past while thinking about London's future? The Saturday Planning School will be a forum for discussing these issues in the midst of a rapidly changing London. As the city sees unprecedented changes in infrastructure provision, physical growth and demographic change, what does a well-functioning planning system look like?
Over five weeks, experts at the coal face of shaping London will be discussing the workings and challenges of London's planning system through the lens of scale - successively scrutinising the site, the neighbourhood, the borough and the city with an interlude on density and housing.
The 2018 London Society Architecture School will explore the architecture of London from the halcyon years before the First World War when London was the largest city in the world, the centre of an enormous empire, through the period of long reinvention, to the present day. Changes in social aspirations have left a portfolio of buildings that mirror this 100 year period of architectural evolution. Technology, cultural and political developments have left their marks on the palimpsest of buildings that the unprecedented changing forces and opportunities that the wrench from a 'search for a new style' in architecture. How and why is architecture so changeable? What drives a design and how can cultural references be picked up, used, discarded and then picked up again? How do clients and building methods drive design? How does this ever-changing rainbow of taste evolve and leave its mark in a building?
The London Society is a forum for debate on the future of London. They arrange events and visits to a variety of places, buildings and institutions, some not generally open to the public, organise debates and lectures, including the annual Sir Banister Fletcher Lecture, addressed by distinguished speakers. The Society also sponsors the All Party Parliamentary Group on London Planning and Built Environment.