Seeing the light
Celebrating 30 years of practice, the directors at MacCormac Jamieson Prichard reflect on the essential qualities of the practice's work, while Richard MacCormac charts the evolution of MJP's work over time.
You might say that British architecture lost an empire and has yet (fully) to find a role. The glory decades of expansion and endless public funding came to a halt at about the time MJP was setting up in practice. In the mid-1970s, that inveterate socialiser (and socialist) Anthony Crosland famously announced 'The party's over'.
He wasn't talking about the old-style Labour party, though he could have been, but about the funding and control of vast swathes of the British economy, both national and local, by the taxpayer and ratepayer. The proportion of architects employed in the public sector was about to nosedive. The great departments of state began to look for new ways of procuring buildings.
How long ago it all seems. Yet the consequences of the sea change in political philosophy and practical economics which took place in the 1970s are still with us today. If the public sector cannot afford a proper public building programme, other sources have to be found. Hence the rise of public/private partnerships and the private finance initiative A world in which free education was considered a right is now replaced by loans and obligations. The world of the art school architecture course has been well and truly replaced by box-ticking regulation of universities where practitioners are a very part-time educational resource; more important are academics with research bonus points.
And yet, as you will see in the pages that follow, there are other stories and other histories. Stories of clients, opportunities, designs, explorations, speculations, and an attitude to architecture which is identifiable even as the buildings and the materials in them change and evolve.
Inevitably architecture both absorbs influences and reflects requirements, but it also has its own story, which is told in a series of reflective essays by MJP's directors.
That MJP should, 30 years on, be undertaking its biggest project for a public corporation whose property is now managed by the private sector, tells us that good architecture can survive the unpredictable vicissitudes of public policy.
WORK & ASSEMBLY
The design of workplaces includes the completed offices in Clifton Street, Hackney, and Building One, Paternoster, currently under construction.The Broadcasting House redevelopment and the competition proposal for the Welsh Assembly require highly specific places for work and interaction.
The site of the Jersey Archive is a disused quarry and the archive itself is expressed as a monumental impenetrable white cube in contrast to the 'building within a building' concept of the Ruskin Library.The interiors of Lancaster University library, Boathouse 6 and the Wellcome Wing are complex volumes of sequential space.
Residential schemes vary from Indescon Court, a mixed development in Docklands with 28,000m 2of residential space, to the provision of guest bedrooms and a lunch room for St John's College, Oxford. University residential accommodation is being built in the West Cambridge development masterplanned by MJP, and at Balliol College, Oxford.
Ballymun, north of Dublin, is a major regeneration project based on MJP's masterplan to transform a 1960s satellite dormitory into a real town. Durham and Coventry are regeneration projects driven by new public spaces and cultural interventions, a theatre and library in Durham, and a visitor interpretation centre in Coventry with the involvement of six artists in the infrastructure design. Incorporating a Tesco's supermarket into Ludlow town centre has had a positive effect on the local economy.
The practice continues its involvement with art and artists. The Ruskin exhibition at Tate Britain and Surrealism at Tate Modern offered opportunities to break out of the convention of the 'white cube'with narratives of colour and light. Sutton Walk was undertaken as a collaboration with Alberto Duman and the glass bridge in the Coventry Phoenix project is the most recent collaboration with Alex Beleschenko, in the public art programme initiated by Vivien Lovell.
The Jubilee Line station at Southwark is at a pragmatic level an economic and intelligible response to passenger circulation.
Architecturally it is a sequence of contrasting volumes and light levels. We hoped the intermediate concourse would be used to stage cultural events, and since opening, the London Sinfonietta has successfully performed there.
DAVID PRICHARD DUNCAN MCKINNON JEREMY ESTOP LIZ PRIDE MIKE EVANS MARK HINES MATHEW MALLON NEIL DEELY RICHARD MACCORMAC TOBY JOHNSON
DAVID ALLERTON DEREK GIBBONS FREDDY MCBRIDE LEONA VINCENT MARION GUERIN MATTHEW DEAN REZA SCHUSTER TIM PEAKE TONY PRYOR
ALISON BURNS ANDREW FROOD ANDY JONES ANDY NICHOLLS ANN CALLOW ANNE HULBERT BABETTE BISCHOFF BERNARD FITZSIMONS BEVERLEY QUINN BRUCE BRIGGS CHARLES EVERARD CHRIS BURROWS DANIEL SHABETAI DAVID BULLEY DAVID FORD DAVID ROSE DAVID THOMPSON DYLAN HOUGHTON EDWARD RHODES EMMET O'SULLIVAN GABRIEL IGBO GENEVIEVE OKECH GERALD FOX GLEN MCGOWAN GRAEME FROST HAL JONES HOWARD HUGHES JOANN TANG JOANNA MACDONALD JOE WRIGLEY JOHN ATTWOOD JOHN BLOOMFIELD JULIE BUKU JULIE KERR JULIE WINFIELD KATHRYN GROSSMAN KING CHONG LARA HINDE LIAM NEWTON LIZY DIXON LUCY JONES MARCO SOSA MARISA MENDES DE MEDEIROS MARKO NESKOVIC MAVIS SIBANDA MIKE BIRD NIC HOAR NICK WILSON NICOLA RAINS PAM TRIM PETER HELPS PETER KENT PETER MAYHEW REBECCA GRANGER RICHARD COHEN RICHARD IRVING RICHARD MOORBY RICHARD MYERS RICHARD ROBINSON RODNEY JACK ROSS BOWMAN SANDRA MEAKES SARAH CARP SCOTT FENTON SCOTT MELVILLE SEBASTIAN DREWES SIU YING WAT STEFANIA SCARSINI STEPHEN MOREY SUE BARNES SUSAN ALTINOK TOM MITCHELL VICKY LACEY YLVA KVIST