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a life in architecture elain harwood

After completing her recent Guide to Post-War Listed Buildings (AJ 6.7.00), Elain Harwood decided that England's ultimate post-war building 'has to be Stirling's Leicester Engineering Building'.

That said, she moves on to more personal choices. Peter Moro's Nottingham Playhouse (1963) is an 'abiding Modernist memory, ' from her first visit as a Brownie.

Instead of the actors being distant pinpricks, she felt part of the action. The Playhouse was one of a new breed of theatre, reflecting the rise of playwrights like John Osborne and Harold Pinter, and generous funding. 'I'm fascinated by buildings that bring together new cultural specialisations and have a new form to express them.'

Harwood is currently researching Ralph Erskine's Byker estate at Gateshead (above). 'It's such a potent mix of colour and plans and levels and materials. It's the most visionary housing scheme. I've seen some of Erskine's work in Sweden, but nothing comes up to the panache of Byker'.

Harwood is campaigning to achieve listing for the house which Jim and Betty Cadbury Brown built for themselves in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, in 1964. Its sunken living room is surrounded by objects, artefacts, and pictures - 'what Betty calls her passion pit' .The exterior is smothered in creeper and harbours a multitude of sun traps and patios. The Cadbury Browns worked on the Festival of Britain, the subject of Harwood's next book, to be published during the 50th anniversary of the festival next year.

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