The next in our IHR-SAHGB Architectural History Seminar will be led by Dr Patrick Zamarian (Liverpool School of Architecture). Patrick will discuss his research on the post-war Architectural Association via Teams, followed by questions and discussion.
In 1936, W. H. Ansell, a former chairman of the RIBA’s Board of Architectural Education, was unambiguous about the nature of architectural training: ‘Education, to this Institute, is a technical and vocational affair.’ Today, the RIBA takes a different view and speaks of the ‘academic discipline of architecture’. This shift was largely a consequence of the 1958 Oxford Conference, itself the result of a campaign by a group of official architects intent on raising the profile of the profession through higher academic standards. Underpinning their technocratic agenda was a growing interest in the scientific aspects of architecture, which had its roots in the 1930s and was (and remained) closely linked to the work of the government’s Building Research Station. The BRS sought – initially with little success – to promote a more science-based approach to the teaching of architects to ensure the proper application of its findings in future practice. My paper explores how these concerns were channelled into a comprehensive pedagogical reform agenda which eventually culminated in the Oxford Conference. The key figure in this was William Allen (1914-1998), who, as chief architect to the BRS, took up a pivotal position at the intersection of building science and professional practice. The paper will show how, over the course of two decades, Allen used the institutional machinery of both the BRS and the RIBA to inject a scientific outlook into the training of architects. His success in doing so positions Allen as one of the major – albeit until now largely ignored – figures in British postwar architecture.
Patrick Zamarian trained as an architect at ETH Zurich and completed his doctorate at the University of Liverpool, where he is a lecturer in architectural design and the humanities. His research centres on the history of architectural education in the United Kingdom and beyond. A monograph on the Architectural Association in the postwar period is due to be published in October 2020.
For the foreseeable future the IHR-SAHGB Seminars will be virtual events; please note this seminar will be presented via Microsoft Teams. We will circulate joining instructions via email. Please complete the form on the SAHGB website.