I came across Nigel Greens website the other day and was instantly intrigued by his Reconstruction project.
“The post-war architectural landscape of Picardy is distinct and inescapable.
Suffering devastation in both first and second world wars the enormous task
of reconstruction encompassed every form of built structure: agricultural,
civic, domestic and religious. Entire towns and villages were rebuilt from
scratch creating a uniquely 20th century architectural environment.
While post-war reconstruction architecture reflects the necessity of
recovery and replacement combined with the possibilities of modernization,
the most interesting aspect of this process was the development of unique
and hybrid architectural forms. The term vernacular modernism would
perhaps be the best way to describe the incorporation of a range of styles
and materials. Art Deco, modernism, functionalism, constructivism and
industrial forms can all be found interwoven with the existing vernacular.”
Oliver Perrott has been investigating Toxteth in Liverpool. The area is probably most well known for the Toxteth riots in 1981, now however there are many streets left boarded up awaiting regeneration. Extensive regeneration has taken place in Toxteth over the last few years, including demolition of many of the Victorian terraces in the area creating much new development, particularly aimed at middle class people. The most recent scheme, costing £54 million, will see the clearance of 11 streets near Princess Park, nicknamed the “Welsh Streets” due to the streets being built and lived in by the Welsh workers who built a large percentage of buildings around Liverpool city in the 19th century and around the turn of the 20th century. The streets were named after Welsh towns and villages because of this.
The Welsh Streets had been one of Liverpool’s popular landmarks, but were condemned for demolition, despite dating back to the 1880s, allegedly because many were in poor condition and lacked basic amenities. The demolition is highly contentious, with many taking the view that the houses are fundamentally sound, and it has been proved that renovation would be preferable and cheaper.
Lynsey Hanley’s book ‘Estates’ has been really insightful with our Degeneration project in mind.
Hanley grew up on the Chelmsley Wood estate on the edge of Birmingham, which was completed in 1971, her book about class and council housing is part-memoir, part-history and examines from both inside and outside the causes of the ‘spirit-sapping’ effect of so much postwar social housing on its residents.
Sarah wise from the Guardian writes “The heart of Hanley’s book lies in her vivid descriptions of how the physical walls of council estates (whether of the tower variety or the ‘endless tragic boxes’ of a cottage-style development) can create and sustain what she calls ‘walls in the head’ – the ‘invisible barriers to knowledge, self-awareness and social mobility’, the internalisation of society’s desire to exclude you. She unflinchingly details the effects of an isolated, insular, monotonous, monocultural environment upon a bookish and sensitive girl and charts her gradual discovery of the class system and just where she might and might not fit within it. It’s partly harrowing and partly cheering and it’s a tale that’s well worth keeping somewhere in mind when next you’re laughing at Vicky Pollard.
We have admired the work of Axel Hutte for some time now with his London photographs being amongst our favourite of his works.
Martin Parr and Gerry Badger in The Photobook: A History, Volume II. write about the book, “With his combination of formality and a ruthlessly maintained stance of neutrality towards the world he photographs, Axel Hütte is an exemplary member of the Düsseldorf Tendency. His book London is an almost perfect example of the photobooks that embody the principles of the New Objectivity. He takes a typological approach to a building form that was largely ignored by local photographers before he turned his camera upon it–the social housing blocks built at various times during the twentieth century to house London’s working class citizens. Hütte concentrates on two particular periods of mass social housing: the blocks built around the beginning of the twentieth century.and the now discredited tower blocks of the 1960s and 1970s, built by the now abolished Greater London Council.”
Richard Chivers has been photographing the Rowner Estate in Gosport. The Estate was once described as the ‘Worst in the South East’, the estate was built in the 1960s for military personnel. In the 1980s parts of the estate were sold to private landlords and soon started to suffer because of lack of investment which lead to the building fabric deteriorating. This lead to property price falls and the estate suffered from social problems in the 1990s with crime, vandalism and anti-social behaviour nearly making the estate a no go area for public services.
Today the estate is waiting to be regenerated, here history is suspended awaiting the next Architectural ideals to take shape.
Hans van de Meer’ s European Fields work is on display at Crane Kalman in Brighton at the moment. Its well worth going to see as it is a great body of work he has built up based around capturing Amateur football matches within their surrounding landscape.
“Van der Meer’s journey, having started in his native Netherlands, has taken him to small towns and remote regions across Europe, including Greece, Finland, England, France, Germany, Hungary, Holland, Slovakia, Denmark, Ireland, Wales, Poland, Belgium, Spain and Italy. His acute and subtle observations of the poetry, absurdity, and camaraderie of human behaviour connects the game of football to the fundamental human condition. The small tragicomedies are dwarfed by the serenity and permanence of the natural or man-made world that surrounds them, but in their pathos can be found the original passion and humanity of the beautiful game.”