Jim Richards thought that architects should be anonymous experts who served their communities, not ‘giants’ designing buildings to express their own individual creativity. He pursued this idea throughout his forty-year career as an architectural critic, journalist and editor. This book traces Richards’s ideas about anonymity and public participation in modern architecture and how they weathered the changing contexts of architecture in the mid-twentieth century. This is a story of shifting relationships between the architectural profession, public audiences and the media. The Architectural Review (AR) was first published in 1896 and by the 1930s was closely aligned with modern architecture. James Maude Richards (Jim to his friends) was the longest serving editor of the AR working from 1935 to 1971, with colleagues including Hubert de Cronin Hastings, Nikolaus Pevsner, Hugh Casson and Reyner Banham. Richards developed a specific approach to architectural criticism, which was based on promoting architecture to a public audience. He used criticism as a bridge between architects and their patrons and users. This book explores the changes and continuities in Richards’s work in the context of broader cultural shifts between experts and the public during this period. This is a history of modern architecture told through magazine articles, radio broadcasts and exhibitions, rather than buildings. Richards’s career and his position among a network of journalists, architects and artists, shows the centrality of media and promotion to architecture. It also shows how ideas about public participation, vernacular design and popular culture were key to defining modern architecture.
In 1936 MARS became embroiled in a public spat over Justin Blanco White's criticism of the architect Grey Wornum's winning design for a block of flats in Birmingham. Blanco White, writing in the AJ , had criticised the density of the designs but Grey Wornum had taken this criticism as a personal attack against him. 39 The exchange had sparked a debate among the MARS members about the appropriate methods of conducting architectural criticism, much like those in the AJ in 1926. 40
– from F.R.S. Yorke's 1933 demand that architects should never pander but always lead public taste in architecture; to Richards's insistence in The Castles on the Ground that architects should understand the material conditions that shaped public taste and Reyner Banham's argument in the 1950s that architecture was a consumer object, shaped by consumer taste. Each of these perspectives was accompanied by a particular form of architectural criticism. This chapter will trace how a new definition of the architectural public and changing ideas about participation led
their own suggestions of functions for the architectural press. Most raised criticism as a function that magazines either had or should have. They defined criticism as the judgement of buildings, the designation of good and bad design and the critique of the work of architects. Much of the existing scholarship on the history of architectural criticism also defines it in this way; as the analysis or critique of buildings, often to be read by other architects. 51 This definition
public audiences as much as style in buildings. Looking at Richards's life and work offers a perspective on the history of modern architecture beyond what was built. This view from elsewhere within the history of modern architecture reveals continuities and entanglements that complicate the story of change throughout the five decades of his career. There remains much research to be done in the history of architectural criticism and architectural media. The Architectural Review continues to be published and the story of the fifty years since
architectural culture, particularly concerning forms of architectural criticism. Richards's approach, based on expert guidance and public ‘participation’, was increasingly challenged by newer approaches to criticism. Ian Nairn for instance saw the critic as an advocate for public opinion, holding local authorities and planners to account. Reyner Banham saw criticism as a barometer for popular fashions. Richards, however, maintained a more distanced approach to criticism. In the 1950s he became a regular contributor to the BBC radio programme The Critics , a weekly arts show
This book explores contemporary urban experiences connected to practices of sharing and collaboration. Part of a growing discussion on the cultural meaning and the politics of urban commons, it uses examples from Europe and Latin America to support the view that a world of mutual support and urban solidarity is emerging today in, against, and beyond existing societies of inequality. In such a world, people experience the potentialities of emancipation activated by concrete forms of space commoning. By focusing on concrete collective experiences of urban space appropriation and participatory design experiments this book traces differing, but potentially compatible, trajectories through which common space (or space-as-commons) becomes an important factor in social change. In the everydayness of self-organized neighborhoods, in the struggles for justice in occupied public spaces, in the emergence of “territories in resistance,” and in dissident artistic practices of collaborative creation, collective inventiveness produces fragments of an emancipated society.
architect criticises as being not architecture but a masquerade of art.’ 44 This gap was affecting the architect's business. Newton argued that critics had to step in to navigate the different perspectives of the profession and the public. He called for architectural criticism that would result in a public that could ‘talk and think intelligently’ about architecture. 45 The magazine was responding to the promotional turn by defining architectural criticism as a tool with
, Richards may have been seeking closer links with the state through this new job. He had a real affinity for the work of a civil servant: he positively enjoyed the ‘bureaucratic procedures’, particularly the detailed process of ‘handling files’. 24 The job gave Richards the opportunity to tap into the ‘pedantry’ that was ‘latent’ in him. 25 The equivalence between the promotional and propaganda work of architectural criticism before the war and government public relations
. Though undoubtedly a partial view of Baker’s symbolic frame of reference, it seemed to convince the Bank’s directors and the matter was closed. 55 Baker’s achieved design received its share of serious architectural criticism. 56 Much of it focused, inevitably, on the perceived mismatch between Soane’s strong Roman work embodied in his surviving curtain wall and Baker’s altogether lighter and more eclectic classicism above. Nowhere was this contrast more evident than at Tivoli corner, at the junction between