Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In the country

It's a long time since I've done one of those links to stuff-I'm-reading posts so here's a nice country themed one in celebration of current reading matter. So, partly inspired by Matt Wood's excellent Ruralise blog, I've bought myself a copy of Alan Powers and Elain Harwood's book on Tayler and Green, architects of a number of remarkable houses in the Norfolk countryside, including the one illustrated above. 

Tayler and Green's work prompted the first known use of the term Post Modern in relation to architecture when their houses were described as such by Pevsner in the 1950's. Their international modernism deflected via both Scandinavia and the East Anglian vernacular employed overtly decorative elements such as brick patterns, colour wash walls and lettering that seem highly pertinent today (and were, incidentally, a subtle influence on FAT's Islington Square). They also developed clever and intelligent house plans that were admirably discussed by Rob Annable in a lovely blog post for BD a while back as well as in Matt's extensive series of posts at Ruralise.

Staying on a Norfolk tip, Adrian Friend, the new boss of the new School of Architecture in Norwich, has started up a blog dedicated to Reyner Banham's birthplace. In a nice bit of cross pollination, Banham also turns up to talk about Tayler and Green on Ruralise in relation to the thorny issue of Kenneth Frampton's Critical Regionalism. I was never a particular fan of Frampton's theories in this regard but following this year's Canterbury studio teaching looking at 'Ruburbia', I'm hoping to venture further out into the dark mysteries of the English landscape next year. Issues of regionalism and ruralism will crop up hopefully with some doses of obscure mysticism thrown in. Think Rob Young's Electric Eden meets Russel Hoban's Riddley Walker, soundtracked by Soft Machine. Well, hopefully, anyway.

I'm also currently researching a longer piece about the Essex/Suffolk countryside, so-called Constable Country, and the self-conscious preservation of views and a specifically visual understanding of rural space. More on that to follow here in due course.

Finally, talking of contemporary re-visits of older housing ideas, there's a good piece by Gillian Darley in BD. Link here, lurking no doubt behind a paywall but well worth checking out. 

To play out, here's Norwich boys and short-lived 80's indie hopefuls the Farmers Boys doing their version of In The Country and looking not so much rural miscreants as contemporary Dalston hipsters. 

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