Fry and Drew: Conference

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 6

Barnabas Calder, ‘Cohabitation or collaboration? Drake and Lasdun of Fry Drew Drake and Lasdun’.

After the termination of Berthold Lubetkin’s Tecton partnership in 1949 two of the partners, Lindsay Drake and Denys Lasdun, accepted an offer from Fry and Drew of a new partnership. This lasted until the retirement of Drake in 1959, at which Lasdun left too to establish Denys Lasdun & Partners.

Drake & Lasdun seem to have maintained a considerable level of autonomy within the partnership, publishing their work separately, invariably as ‘Drake and Lasdun of Fry Drew Drake and Lasdun’. Letters from the time reveal that Lasdun actively resisted closer architectural involvement with Fry and Drew, and he always maintained later that the relationship was purely an office-share for reasons of expedience. Yet a publication of Drake and Lasdun’s work in Architectural Design, February 1958, includes projects which were never again acknowledged by Lasdun, and which, in stylistic terms, look much closer to the oeuvre of Fry and Drew.

The decade-long existence of Fry Drew Drake and Lasdun was a productive one for both sides of the partnership. A number of the buildings of this period for which Lasdun led the design process have been continuously recognised since as amongst the most original and interesting buildings of British modernism – Bethnal Green “Cluster Block” social housing exhibited at CIAM, Hallfield School, and the outline design phases of the Royal College of Physicians and a block of luxury flats in St James’s Place.

This paper will explore the dynamics of the partnership, drawing on interviews with surviving assistants in Fry Drew Drake and Lasdun, and on the limited archival evidence, to investigate how Drake & Lasdun operated within the shared offices, and whether the cohabitation had any influence on the architectural output of the partners.

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Barnabas Calder is Lecturer in Architecture at the Liverpool School of Architecture. His research centres on the architecture of Denys Lasdun, about whose National Theatre he wrote his PhD, before spending two years cataloguing much of Lasdun’s archive at the RIBA. He is currently researching and writing a complete works of Lasdun funded by the Graham Foundation, to be published as a web resource by the RIBA. Lasdun Online will be composed of illustrated discursive entries on each of Lasdun’s projects, accompanied by thematic essays on aspects of Lasdun’s practice and its context.

Barnabas is also writing a book on British Brutalism for William Heinemann, and a single-volume story of architecture for Penguin. His other research interests include Cedric Price, on whom he curated an exhibition at the Lighthouse, Glasgow, in 2011 and the Bartlett, London, 2012.

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