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Pioneer of 'New Brutalism' Peter Smithson dies

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Peter Smithson, one of the most significant and controversial figures in post-war architecture, died last Monday (3.3.03), aged 79.

Born in 1923, Smithson met his future wife, Alison, at the University of Durham School of Architecture. The Smithsons set up practice in 1949 after winning a competition to design Hunstanton School in Norfolk (1950-54), an early example of the so-called 'New Brutalism' Hunstanton met with critical acclaim, as did the Economist Building in central London (1965), but the Smithsons' uncompromising aesthetic was not to everybody's taste. The Brutalist Robin Hood Gardens housing estate in Tower Hamlets, east London, completed in 1972, was widely condemned as inhumane.

Although the Smithsons won relatively few commissions, they disseminated their ideas on urbanism through teaching, writing, public speaking and exhibitions. After his wife's death in 1993, Smithson continued to lecture, write and undertake small-scale architectural commissions including an ongoing series of small structures for German furniture manufacturer Axel Bruchhauser (AJ 16.8.01). He is survived by a son and two daughters.

A full obituary will be published in next week's AJ

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