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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Colonial Films Unit at Ibadan University

Following on from last week’s post on Ibadan University, here’s a still of Trenchard Hall taken from the 1958 film “Three Roads to Tomorrow”. It tells the story of three students from different parts of Nigeria making their way to university for the first time. Sponsored by BP, the film was made by Greenpark Productions to illustrate the way that ‘modern transport and oil power have changed the lives of all Nigeria’, says the narrator.

13.1.30 ui

The image shows the administrative block to the left of Trenchard Hall and the single-storey bookshop to the right, all designed by Fry and Drew as part of the first phase of development at the university.

The film is available to watch online at the excellent Colonial Film website, a research project intended to ‘allow both colonizers and colonized to understand better the truths of Empire’. The website brings together information on over 6000 films depicting life in Britain and its former colonies, including a fascinating collection of 150 films to view online – such as “Mr English at Home” (1940) and “Farmer Brown Learns Good Dairying” (1951).

A shining example of progress in colonial Nigeria, Ibadan University was the subject of several films, from the early stages of clearing, surveying and planning to the opening ceremony in 1954. Jane Drew featured in early footage; she wrote home to Maxwell Fry of being filmed on-site with the university’s first principal, Kenneth Mellanby:

‘This morning the colonial film unit took films of Mellanby, Jack Hoskins and I talking – a bit bogus but they want a full record’.

Indeed. Read about the Colonial Film Unit here.

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Religious Buildings at the Lahore Model Town

13.1.28 collage

Left: Gurudwara (Sikh temple) B Block, Centre: Mandir (Hindu temple) D Block, Right: Mosque A Block. All photographs © Shama Anbrine.

The model town was not just an urban morphological experiment, but a unique social experiment as well. In a time when all the major sections of Indian population were thinking of freedom and possible independent states based on religious majorities in different areas, a small segment of people from all these sections were willing to live together in an ideal co-operative garden town. Therefore, during planning of the Model town, eight identical sites were reserved for religious buildings with one in each residential block. However only three of these were actually built: Sikh and Hindu temples and a Mosque.

The temples were abandoned in 1947 due to mass exodus of Sikhs and Hindus (who formed the majority of the population) after independence of Pakistan. The Sikh temple is now being used as a residence while the Hindu temple is now part of a girl’s primary school. The interior of the Sikh temple has been radically altered by the residents, and many portions of Hindu temple have been demolished or are in ruins. The Mosque, on the other hand, is quite well maintained and well preserved in its original condition, the only alteration being the introduction of modern electrical equipment.

Research Student Seminar

Today some nice images from a forthcoming presentation by Shama Anbrine on the Lahore Model Town, to be held at the Liverpool School of Architecture on 13th February 2013. Please do get in touch if you are interested in attending the seminar.

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Top left: Mosque in ‘A’ Block

Top right: Hindu Temple in ‘D’ Block

Centre: Inscription on the original foundation stone

Bottom left: ‘A’ Class house

Bottom right: House of Hafeez Jullundhry National Poet of Pakistan before refurbishment.

Photographs © Shama Anbrine, apart from bottom right image. Thanks to Jawad Ahmed Tahir and Muhammad Saad Khan, project architects for the refurbishment of Hafeez Jullundhry’s house, for supplying the image prior to recent work.

University of Ibadan, Nigeria

In August of last year, some of the Transnational Architecture Group visited one of Fry and Drew’s best-known projects in West Africa – Nigeria’s first university, the University of Ibadan (1947-60).

Fry and Drew planned the campus, situated on a site of five square miles of farm and forest land, and designed many of the associated residential and teaching buildings. The campus is approached from a tree-lined avenue leading directly to a central tower, administrative offices and lecture hall. From this administrative centre, residential colleges and teaching buildings are laid out roughly east-west to take advantage of the south-west breeze.

Speaking of building in West Africa, Maxwell Fry summarises their straightforward but considered approach, which is shown so well at Ibadan University:

‘We were fated to make a new architecture out of our love for the place and our obedience to nature, and to make it with cement and steel, asbestos sheets, wood above the termite line, glass, paint and some stone later, and not much else’.

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Fry’s words are demonstrated in their design for the central lecture hall, above. Trenchard Hall is constructed of a reinforced concrete frame infilled with concrete block and local stone. The ceiling sweeps up from the stage, over the internal balcony, and finishes at eaves level to the main elevation (shown above). Timber is used freely to the hall’s interior and adds warmth to the concrete columns.

Thanks to the Office of International Programmes, who made us very welcome and showed us around the university.

Map of Fry & Drew Projects

Over the course of our research we have plotted the built and unbuilt projects of the Fry and Drew partnership on an online map, with astonishing results. Although known for their work in West Africa and India, the geographical spread of the partnership’s work is considerable. Projects span Europe, Africa and Asia, tracing a line from The Gambia in the west to Singapore and Malaysia in the east.

The map gives a clear indication of Fry and Drew’s knowledge of Tropical Architecture, which they presented in a series of pioneering books: Village Housing in the Tropics (1947, with Harry L. Ford); Tropical Architecture in the Humid Zone (1956); Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones (1964). These publications remain an important source of information – highlighted recently by Routledge’s decision to republish Village Housing in the Tropics later this year (with a new introduction by Iain Jackson).

13.1.21 VHT Sketch

Survey sketch for a new town plan, taken from Village Housing in the Tropics.

The online map is a work in progress and concentrates on work abroad, so not all UK projects are currently shown. If you have any comments or know of any other projects that might be added, please contact us: jholland@liv.ac.uk

Veterinary Building, Liverpool University

The importance of the Fry and Drew research project has been demonstrably underlined with the recent demolition of Maxwell Fry’s School of Veterinary Science (1955-60) at the University of Liverpool. There’s something particularly ironic about the Vet School being situated just a few hundred yards from our offices at the Liverpool School of Architecture – where Fry was a student in the 1920s – or maybe it’s just depressing!

Anyway, over the course of a week last October, it was demolished to make way for new student residences. Here it is, in two pictures: the construction and demolition, just over fifty years later (sigh).

13.1.18 DH Vet

© Sheffield Hallam University. Duncan Horne Collection, c. 1960.

13.1.18 Vet bldg

© Jessica Holland. 24 October 2012.

During the same period Fry also designed the university’s Civil Engineering building. Like the Vet School, it’s a great example of his humanist take on post-war modernism – combining textured and colourful materials, and artwork inside and out, to give a building ‘soul’ (in Fry’s words).

For further reading on these commissions, and for more images of both buildings, see: Iain Jackson, ‘Post-War Modernism: Maxwell Fry’s buildings at the University of Liverpool’, The Journal of Architecture, vol. 16, no. 5, pp. 675-702. Available here.

Locating the Model Village

The location of the site was crucial for the success of the proposed co-operative Model Town. Like the English garden suburb from which it took inspiration, the site was to be located close enough to the city so that the middle-class residents might easily commute to work, yet maintain a distance to avoid the congestion and pollution of Lahore. Accordingly, the designer Khem Chand proposed a distance of six or seven miles from the city.

The site finally selected was part of Rakh Kotlakhpat, a rich forest plantation of mulberry and shisham trees, south-east of Lahore adjacent to the Ferozepore Road. It was at an accessible distance from Lahore, located just 1½ miles from the nearest railway station and 5½ miles from the Lahore District Courts, where many of the residents worked. As the following image shows, the Model Town was planned with a low density to provide a serene and healthy environment. According to Government sanitary reports of 1919–20, the locality was the healthiest in the Punjab.

13.1.16 SA Plan

This plan is taken from Towns and Villages of Pakistan, A Study by Grenfell Rudduck (July 1961), a publication from the papers of the British town-planner and architect William Holford (1907–75), held at the Liverpool University Archives & Special Collections.