Jessica Kelly
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‘Life is right, the architect is wrong’
Public participation and architectural criticism, 1962–73
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Chapter 6 looks at how the role of the critic, as a mediator between the profession and the public, shifted in the 1960s with the rise of consumer culture and television. Criticism evolved into a site for critiquing architects. Looking at several BBC television programmes, as well as John Donat’s 1961 report on architecture and television for the RIBA and the changing content of the AR during the decade, this chapter explores the impact of a new medium on architectural criticism. In contrast, Richards’s approach to criticism remained consistent; he continued to present the architect and the critic as experts in culture. In 1972 Richards described the role of the architect as akin to that of doctor or solicitor, they were experts whose professional, specialist knowledge made them ‘leaders’ rather than ‘followers’, with a responsibility to serve their local community. The chapter traces how Richards’s ideas about public participation in architecture were increasingly detached from media that prized consumer choice and individual expression. He left the Architectural Press in the early 1970s but The Castles on the Ground was republished in 1973, showing that his ideas about participation remained relevant and were gaining a mainstream audience.

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J.M. Richards, modernism and The Architectural Review


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