Jessica Kelly
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The Castles on the Ground
Reconstruction, public participation and the future of modernism, 1941–51
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Chapter 4 is focused on Richards’s book The Castles on the Ground which he wrote during the war, and which was published in 1946 by the Architectural Press book department. In the book Richards argued that the architectural tastes of ordinary people were shaped by the material conditions of society. His thesis was that modern architects had to work to create the material conditions that would allow for a modernism to evolve into a vernacular. The chapter traces how this idea threaded through Richards’s postwar work at the AR and his expanding career at the BBC, The Times, the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne and at the Festival of Britain. The context of postwar reconstruction had materially changed the conditions of architecture, and Richards’s work was imbued with an optimism that a form of ‘social realist’ architecture would evolve. However, he grew increasingly frustrated as commercial culture encroached on architecture and threatened his vision for the future of modernism.

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J.M. Richards, modernism and The Architectural Review

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