SMITHSON, A and P. “The Heroic Period of Modern Architecture” in ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN, December 1965.

Prev Next

Loading Updating cart...

December 1965

Alison and Peter Smithson, Monica Pidgeon [Editor]

[Alison and Peter Smithson] Monica Pidgeon [Editor]: ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN. London: The Standard Catalogue Co., Ltd, Volume 35, number 12, December 1965. Original edition. Slim quarto. Photo illustrated wrappers. 54 [lx] pp. Ilustrated articles and trade advertsements. Spine crown worn, but a very good copy.

9.5 x 12 journal with 54 pages of editorial content and 60 pages of period advertisments. This issue devoted to Alison and Peter Smithson’s illustrated essay “The Heroic Period of Modern Architecture,”    an exceptional collection of images from Architectural Journals published between 1910 to 1932. Classic front cover image of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe discussing the Weissenhof Exhibition.

"In the period just before and just after the first world war a new idea of architecture came into being. In an amazingly short time it mastered its necessary techniques and produced buildings which were as completely realized as any in the previous history of architecture..." -- the Smithsons

The Smithson's presented their collected research as a wordless story of the exchange of ideas during the "heroic age of modern architecture," establishing a timeline and a parabolic curve before the aesthetic and ideological compromises of the 1930s polluted modernism's pure first strain.

Includes work by Herbert Bayer, Marcel Breuer, Bijvoet And Duiker, Brinkman And Van Der Vlugt, A. W. E. Buys, M. Casteels, Pierre Chareau, Le Corbusier And Pierre Jeanneret, Charlotte Perriand, De Koninck, R. Doeker, Thero Van Doesburg, C. Van Eesteren, Gerrit Rietveld, O. Eisler, J. Fischer, B. Fuchs, Ginsberg, Golossov, Eileen Gray, Walter Gropius, Guevrekien, Haesler, Harring, Hertlein, Horste, Vilmos Huszar, Joltovsky And Kojin, Kharkov, Arthur Korn, Korschev, Kosel, Kranz, Kysela, Leonidov, Van Leusdon, Adolph Loos, Andre Lurcat, Luckhardt, May, Melnikov, Merril, Hannes Meyer, Farkas Molnar, JJP Oud, Van Ravestin, Lilly Reich, Mies van der Rohe, Schneider, Scharoun, Schweizer, Mart Stam, Bruno Taut, Terragni, Velikovsky, Vesnin, Welzenbacher and many others.

When Peter Smithson died aged 79 in March 2003, The Times devoted a page of readers' letters commenting on the buildings he had designed with his wife Alison. They ranged from glowing tributes to this "brilliant pair" and affectionate anecdotes from friends to a scathing critique of their first public building, the prize-winning Hunstanton School in Norfolk, which one man, who had taught there for 37 years condemned as "more suited to being a prison than a school."

This combination of accolades and attacks had accompanied the Smithsons throughout their long career ever since Hunstanton -- known locally as the "glasshouse" -- was completed in 1954. Controversial though it was, Hunstanton established Alison and Peter Smithson as leading lights of post-war British architecture.

All their subsequent projects -- from the 1956 House of the Future, the visionary home exhibited at the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition, and the early 1960s Economist Building, to the early 1970s Robin Hood Gardens housing complex in east London --were infused with the same crusading zeal to build schools, workplaces and homes for a progressive, more meritocratic post-war society.

Those ideals were articulated at a CIAM conference in 1953 when Alison and Peter attacked the decades-old dogma propounded by Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius that cities should be zoned into specific areas for living, working, leisure and transport and that urban housing should consist of tall, widely spaced towers. The Smithsons' ideal city combined different activities within the same areas and they envisaged modern housing being built as "streets in the sky" to encourage the residents to feel a sense of "belonging" and "neighbourliness."