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‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 18

Ola Uduku, ‘Rediscovering Fry and Drew’s “Tropical Design” within the contemporary Frame’

How does today’s writing on climate and ‘adaptive’ comfort differ significantly from these earlier literary endeavours after more than half a century after Fry and Drew’s books and other writing on tropical building design?  Furthermore are we able to compare or undertake a critical analysis of today’s building guidance and codes as relates to climate and programme, within our current sustainable low-carbon design context? The premise that this paper proposal seeks to investigate is whether there has been real change in conception or thought about the word ‘tropical’ design, in intellectual or practical design terms, or there has simply been a reinvention of the names, tools and narratives in which this semantic theme is engaged with in the 21st century.

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Ola Uduku is a faculty member at the Architecture School, at Edinburgh University, and has research interests in Environmental Design as well as Modernist Architectural History in Africa. She is a director and foundation member of the organisation ArchiAfrika, which actively seeks to spread knowledge about African architecture within and outside Africa. Ola is co-researcher on the Alan Vaughan-Richards Archive Project.

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‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 17

Tim Livsey, ‘Fry and Drew at Ibadan: rethinking the “colonial modern”‘

This paper considers Fry and Drew’s buildings for University College Ibadan (UCI), Nigeria. These buildings have often recently been interpreted as part of a post-war ‘colonial modern’ moment, which saw a pact between rationalist urban planning and authoritarian colonial power. Colonial modern planning, including Fry and Drew’s work at Ibadan, has been interpreted as excluding indigenous voices from planning and upholding colonial power.

The paper uses the history of the UCI buildings to qualify colonial modern interpretations. It shows how Nigerian agendas influenced the planning of the buildings through a long pre-history of Nigerian thinking on higher education, and the acquisition of the site, which involved negotiations between the colonial state and local chiefs. Fractures within the colonial establishment are considered, including those between architects and client, suggesting that there was not an integrated colonial modern machine. The unexpected variety in the buildings’ reception and use is also considered, to explore the ways the buildings were interpreted by Nigerians.

However, the paper also endorses aspects of the colonial modern view, showing how Fry and Drew’s apparently apolitical ‘modern’ spaces were closely imbricated with colonial-era urbanism and constructions of whiteness. As such the buildings represented an ambivalent legacy to a decolonizing country.

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Tim Livsey is an AHRC funded PhD student at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is currently completing a thesis on ‘The University Age: Development and Decolonisation in Nigeria, 1930 to 1966’, which makes special reference to built environments, including Fry and Drew’s work at the University of Ibadan.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 16

Alan Powers, ‘Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew – the Romantic turn’

The paper will start from Fry’s ‘A Letter about Architecture’ in Horizon magazine, May 1946, in which Fry addressed Drew as well as a wider non-specialist  readership. It represents a transitional period in Fry’s career that began before the war with some lesser known buildings such as the brick built house Warham’s Ash, Hereford, and the Cecil Residential Club in North Gower Street. These were more varied in materials and form than the Modernist buildings through which he first acquired fame in the years 1933-36, and anticipate, along with Goldfinger’s Willow Road houses and some other examples, the next ten or fifteen years of stylistic development in English and European Modernism. There is no accepted term for describing this romantic turn in Modernism, at least until the 1947 coinage ‘New Empiricism’. The style remained current in much of Fry and his practice’s work well into the 1950s.

In the Horizon text, and in Fine Building, 1944, Fry reveals the thinking that moved him and other members of his generation to move on to a second version of Modernism that was deliberately anti-machine and reflected the writings of D. H. Lawrence and Lewis Mumford to which he referred. In the paper, these written sources will be related to Fry’s work and that of his contemporaries in Britain, Sweden and the USA to fill out a more complete account of this change of direction.

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Dr Alan Powers, FSA, Hon. FRIBA, has written widely on twentieth century British architecture, art and design and curated a number of exhibitions. He was Professor of Architecture and Cultural History at the University of Greenwich before becoming an independent scholar with a range of teaching activities. He has had a long association with the Twentieth Century Society, becoming Chairman 2007–12. He was founder editor of its journal Twentieth Century Architecture and with Elain Harwood and Barnabas Calder is a joint editor of the monograph series, jointly with English Heritage and RIBA, Twentieth Century Architects. His books include Britain, in the series Modern Architectures in History and Serge Chermayeff, designer, architect, teacher. Eric Ravilious, artist and designer will be published by Lund Humphries in October 2013. In 2011–12, Alan Powers was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship on the theme, Figurative Architecture in the Time of Modernism.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 15

Vanessa Vanden Berghe, ‘Aspects of collaboration in the work of Oliver Hill and Maxwell Fry’

This paper seeks to explore through an examination of the work of two twentieth century architects Maxwell Fry and Oliver Hill how their work can shed new light on the existence of alternative forms of modernism.

At first sight, this unlikely comparison would suggest that Fry’s development follows the conventional path of architectural modernism whilst Hill’s work tends to be seen as deviating from such a modernist trajectory putting himself and his work at the margins of architectural history. However, on closer inspection we can see that both Fry and Hill offered ‘different’ architectural approaches that underline the existence of wider manifestations of modernism in England. Their collaboration on the Dorland Hall exhibition (1933) suggests that these differences in approach were underpinned by their shared commitment to bringing good design to a wider public. Other collaborations reinforced this sense of creative partnership between friends, partners and clients. This is evidenced in Fry and Gropius’s collaboration on Impington Village College (1939) and Hill’s Thatched House at Knowle (1925) in which regionalist influences in their oeuvre reveal how both architects early on in their careers sought to increasingly create buildings with a distinctive sense of place and identity.

Analysing various aspects of Hill’s and Fry’s collaborations and the influence that these projects have had subsequently on architectural production, I will argue that such a wider approach not only adds to our knowledge of alternative expressions of modernism but that it also increases our understanding of how these architects commonly sought to integrate modernism within the larger cultural and regional frameworks of interwar Britain.

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Vanessa Vanden Berghe has studied History of Art at the University of Ghent, Belgium. She completed an MA in the history and theory of architecture at the University of East London in 2001, where she also lectures and is currently in the final stages of her MPhil (also at UEL) researching the Enigma of British Modernism through the work of Oliver Hill. She most recently contributed a chapter entitled: ‘Oliver Hill: a window on Regionalism in Britain during the interwar period’ in Regionalism and modernity during the interwar period (edited by Leen Meganck, Linda Van Santvoort & Jan De Maeyer) published by KADOC-Artes.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 14

’Yemi Salami, ‘Fry and Drew’s Influence on Colonial Public Works Architecture in Nigeria’

This study examines the influence of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew on the architecture of Nigeria’s Colonial Public Works Department (PWD).  Mostly referred to as Fry and Drew, literature provides accounts of their coming to work in West Africa as architects and professional advisors during the mid-twentieth century. They are also deemed to have pioneered alongside other private architects of the time, the climate responsive design that has come to be known as ‘tropical architecture’.

The literature equally provides a glimpse into operations by the Public works Department (PWD). The department had largely produced the country’s earlier colonial buildings, as well as a good number of its mid-twentieth century buildings. The period therefore experienced a blend of designs by the new private architects and by the PWD. But did the designs of the new entrant private architects generate an impact on colonial building? How did the PWD build before this time? Did it have a design tradition by which it operated? Was this tradition affected by the new influences, particularly from Fry and Drew?

To answer these questions, the study will examine two Fry and Drew buildings and their application of tropical design principles. It will then explore two building types done by the PWD – a courthouse and a post office. For each building type, the study will examine its design in the earlier colonial years, as well as during the tropical architecture trend.  Changes arising in the new design will then be identified and discussed, particularly those most likely based on fry and drew influences. The purpose therefore, is not only to establish if Fry and Drew influenced PWD designs, but to also know what features they had influenced.

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Yemi Salami is a PhD student at the Liverpool School of Architecture, University of Liverpool. Her research investigates British colonial architecture in Nigeria between 1900 and 1960. Specifically, the research aims to understand the colonial administration’s Public Works Department (PWD), and the architecture which it produced within the period of study. Yemi held a faculty position at Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria, before enrolling for her PhD in November 2011.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 13

Jorge Figueira and Bruno Gil, ‘Dry and Humid and Everywhere: The work of Amâncio (Pancho) Guedes in Mozambique’

In the seminal Tropical Architecture in the dry and humid zones, published in 1964 by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, the work of Amâncio Guedes (“Pancho” Guedes, Lisbon, 1925), in Mozambique, appears recurrently as an example of the themes aimed by the authors. The relationship between Pancho’s work and the concerns of Fry and Drew is umbilical, even if the Portuguese architect is more corrosive and incendiary than pedagogical.

Our presentation aims to contextualize and problematize the works of Pancho Guedes referenced by Fry and Drew, as part of his vast production between the early 1950’s and 1975, an itinerary that ends with the decolonization process of the “Portuguese Africa” ​​in 1974. Pancho’s work refers to the condition of Portugal as a colonial power blasted by a great artistic, experimental, “climatological” voracity, which Fry and Drew capture in Tropical Architecture…, demonstrating a particular geo-culture within the colonial process in Africa. Accordingly, we sustain that the general invocation of the post-colonialism – “can the subaltern speak?” – finds in Pancho Guedes a particular resonance. Pancho is a colonizer colonized by modern architecture, from which he is always in a desire/rejection process. All his work is envisioned, in the manner of Team 10 and beyond Team 10, and certainly under the influence of the theses by Fry and Drew, to mourn the more dogmatic aspects of modern architecture, showing affection towards the locality, using techniques and styles that aim to adapt or lacerate the modern canon towards the local. The archaic, primitive and vernacular recurrently appear in his work, more in the manner of an “automatic writing” than an analytical mode. The high point of this trip is the publication that he imagines of 1001 portas do caniço (doors from the slums of Lourenço Marques/Maputo), photographed relentlessly in very beautiful slides.

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Jorge Figueira graduated in Architecture at the University of Porto, 1992. PhD Degree at the University of Coimbra, 2009, with a thesis entitled The Perfect Periphery. Post-modernity in Portuguese Architecture, 1960-1980. Director and Assistant Professor at the University of Coimbra’s Department of Architecture. Researcher at the Social Studies Centre (University of Coimbra). Professor at the PhD Programme in the Faculty of Architecture of University of Porto. Coordinator at the University of Coimbra of the Red PHI Patrimonio Historico-Cultural Iberoamericano. Curator of international exhibitions such as “Álvaro Siza. Modern Redux”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 2008. Editor of Álvaro Siza. Modern Redux, Hatje Cantz (Berlin). Author of several books on contemporary architecture, including O Arquitecto Azul, Coimbra University Press, 2010. Has published texts in Arquitectura Viva, Casabella and A+U and has a column on architectural criticism in Público newspaper.

Bruno Gil graduated in Architecture at the University of Coimbra, Portugal, 2005. Following the graduation thesis entitled “Architecture School, Today” he continues research in that subject. Currently, he is developing his PhD at the Centre for Social Studies and at the Department of Architecture of the University of Coimbra, with a grant from the Foundation for Science and Technology, Portugal. His thesis focuses on issues related to the practice of architectural research, identifying disciplinary specificities, research cultures, topics and methods. He is a contributor at the University of Coimbra to the Red PHI Patrimonio Historico-Cultural Iberoamericano. He has participated in diverse international conferences and workshops, published texts in architecture magazines and was co-founder of the NU magazine and its director between 2003 and 2004.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 12

Claire Louise Staunton and James Price, ‘Subverting modernism through autonomous urbanism’

The film Corrections and Omissions (2013, James Price) presents two cases of anarchic urbanism in contemporary Chandigarh. The first concerns the domestic dwellings built for low and mid-rank government employees in Sector 22, designed by Jane Drew & Maxwell Fry. Residents have defied the Chandigarh edict on a small scale by adapting the buildings to their individual and family needs; by altering the room size, use and the building shape as well as permitting “homeless” low caste families to squat on their allocated land in exchange for services such as cleaning, guarding or ironing.

Secondly, the film introduces to the viewer the off-grid village of Burail. In a struggle to keep perfect order and perfect form within the 56 sectors that make up the city, the temporary slums which appear on the fringes of the grid are systematically flattened by the state. The exceptions to this are the villages that pre-date the arrival of Le Corbusier and his team, and still exist enclosed by the masterplan. Burail lies in the centre of sector 45. Its community has persistently defied all planning regulations, is built along an irregular, diagonal axis; its thoroughfares and alleyways missing from the official city map.

The paper unpacks and allies these two examples of anarchic architecture as a subaltern creation of complex spaces, which subvert the grid, and disrupt several current narratives that de-politicise or renew colonialism. Such urbanism operates within an alternative economy outside of the dominant forces of capital and development and is an inherently political act. The paper proposes that these practices expose the contradiction between the principles of indigenous architecture (Drew 1963, Drew & Fry 1964) which insisted upon learning from the vernacular thus adapting designs for the needs and habits of future Chandigarh residents and the modernist imperative to uphold the truth of materials, which guards pure design from “from whims of individuals” (Chandigarh Edict). Furthermore, this paper suggests that the increasing heritagisation of Drew & Fry’s buildings are antithetical to their ambitions for their architecture and renders the planned districts de-politicised.

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Claire Louise Staunton is the director/curator of Inheritance Projects and Flat Time House, London. Inheritance is a small group of independent curators and researchers (Laura Guy, Becky Ayre) that organises exhibitions, events, new commissions, publications and research projects. Initiated in 2007 as a vehicle to interrogate museological schemata, the narrations of history and personal and national heritage Inheritance has developed into wider territories of investigation. Inheritance works with artists, musicians and writers in collaboration with institutions to produce new knowledges and develop politically informed, critical discourses around particular topics or situations. The exchange between Inheritance curators with filmmakers, artists, writers, residents and historical artefacts offers a multiperspectival narration by a number of speakers from different places and times.

Inheritance leads a long-term investigation of the visual culture of intentionally planned urban areas (New Towns) and their migrant populations. This research project has involved a project space in Shenzhen which served to question heritage and art history in a new migrant city, an exhibition and ‘Research Lab’ unpacking the theoretical and practical applications of community at MK Gallery, Milton Keynes and more recently a performative presentation concerning the willing blindness of new developments, at Sarai, New Delhi. Other key project areas include the destabilisation of heritage through artists’ activities often redressing colonial, feminist and wider political histories in the contemporary. This has included a residency programme with the National Trust, a radio show and exhibitions in traditional museum spaces.

James Price is a documentary and experimental filmmaker who has been working with Inheritance Projects since 2010. Price’s films have been shown on the BBC, Channel 4, and More4, in art exhibitions and international film festivals. Television projects include the mini-series What is Freedom? (Channel 4, 2009) a critical investigation of liberty and freedom in USA, and A Piece of the Moon (Channel 4 / More 4, 2008) an exploration of the capitalising of outer-space and the agents who are establishing the market. The People In Order series (Channel 4, 2006) has gone on to be shown at festivals in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Australia and the USA and was the first series of 3 Minute Wonders to be selected by Channel 4 in their annual review of work. James Price has also exhibited video installations and photography in the UK. His 2006 installation, Conversation, an exploration of human interaction and judgment, has shown in the UK, Canada, the USA, and Iran. This work is being distributed as an educational aid in the UK, Australia and North America. In 2012 he produced The Body Adorned a semi-permanent installation in the Anthropology Department at the Horniman Museum, London.