John McKean's Comments
Comment on: Courtyard housing by Patel Taylor
Nice to see Owen Pritchard so praising of this Patel Taylor housing typology which is so refreshing to see in the AJ. Sane and sensible and modest. The fact that the house form and clustering is almost exactly that of Utzon sixty years ago is only to Patel Taylor's credit. The prototypes were called 'the most humane 20thC housing in Scandinavia," and my experience of frequently visiting friends in one only echoes that praise; well done Patel Taylor and Barking & Dagenham for revitalising a classic. Why, however, your review illustrates as precedent the irrelevant if lovely Harvey Court rather than Utzon (or a traditional almshouse or Scandinavian farmstead etc), is incomprehensible.
As Tony Blair said to Nick Robinson on Radio 4 this week, people are just not interested in stuff about participation and decision making and such nonsense, they just want to feel safe and prosperous. (Or words to that effect) And as the Tories jumped this afternoon when the English archbishops both said the coalition was not interested in reducing inequality (or words to that effect), keep politics out of it! Out of the church, the workplace, out of architecture. Obviously no-one wants well-meaning Ralph Erskines to have a site office at Byker - or ASSIST in Glasgow or Giancarlo De Carlo in Terni - or the thousands in the 40 years since, listening to difficult moaning locals and wasting valuable time. And the more you ask them the less they know what they want anyway and they'll only complain whatever you give them.
Comment on: Dark-itecture by Sophia Bannert
Interesting musings on the blacked-out experience which, with your Pallasmaa and Eagleman quotes, feed much thought. But it immediately led me back to a very different musing - the haptic horrors in Jay Rayner's experience of the same place (The Guardian 26 May 2006); an intriguing comparison.
Comment on: Crafting architecture by Toby Lewis
That's a lovely, timeless essay, Toby. Thank you. (PS it might be even quieter if the e e cummings hadn't started with a Capital letter)
I read the comments, often interesting, occasionally insightful, from within the architectural profession about Scottish independence. I smile wryly when I see them too often boil down to the polarity dominating all comment trails after thoughtful pieces, from The Guardian to Open Democracy: the risky energies released by liberty and self-government versus the security of holding wealthy big brother’s hand. But surely no-one, in the end, whichever way you vote, is voting primarily for a more favourable professional context for yourself? Any socially responsible architect should read Adam Ramsey’s 42 Reasons to Support Scottish Independence (download it for less than two quid). Argue and disagree if you will, but address the real issues before you decide. Similarly Anthony Barnett’s thank you letter to Scotland published yesterday (https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/anthony-barnett/thank-you-scotland-and-hold-your-nerve). And then, as we are architects as well as citizens, pay a visit to the Miralles inspired horseshoe and the Barry-Pugin stand-off pews, two sword-lengths apart. See how (un)welcome you are made, talk to the ushers, watch the other visitors, note how close or distant you are from the debate. The one at every turn, from architectural detail to official behavior, impresses its intimidation; the other welcomes and invites. In which culture would you rather be governed?
There is no better case for voting YES than that it might end once and for all the patronising and insidious tone in pieces like this with its no doubt no doubt sincere prejudices. Journalists like Hurst are all honourable men, no doubt. The pontificating that Malcom Fraser will not win many friends is as valuable and sincere a thought as the honourable belief that a campaign can be judged by any random post attached by reader. The sincere and honourable husband is left sitting on the bed scratching his wise and knowing head as the wife finishes packing her case. Yes, I can and I am leaving you, he hears as his unbelief looks at the shutting door.
It's a brilliant idea which Strathclyde should have thought of first. Having enjoyed being a student in both buildings, I am charmed to see your joint elevation drawing of Freddy Feilden's next to Toshie's. (I'm just really pleased that in your set of period photos, you didn't use the Henk Snoek one which had me in it!)
Mr Fulcher's article states: Portland Place has come in for fierce criticism from British architects and organisations working to promote peaceful coexistence in Israel and Palestine for its decision last week. It would be constructive if he could substantiate this statement which appears more as an opinion and not to be based on any evidence. His grammar presumes "architects and organisations" as a joint noun, described precisely as "working to promote peaceful coexistence in Israel and Palestine." I have seen no evidence to justify this assertion. The phrase "peaceful coexistence" means, precisely, an equality of existence in peace.
I like the "(eh?)" about poor old itinerant Toshie. I'm pretty certain that he never even visited Northampton far less lived there. Yes, even though doing a very neat conversion of a tiny terrace house there. Great you love it, but I can't wait to hear a bit more about reactions to (rather than reactions to reactions to) the Holl, and of course to see it.
And which of these lovely photos is/are lit by candle light?