V&A Dundee

It’s been a real joy to see Dundee celebrating the opening of its stunning Victoria and  Albert Museum, designed by Kengo Kuma. While the building has raised some questions, it chimes so well with the nautical heritage of the city while also being an engineering tour de force.

Dundee and much of Scotland appear rather excited… and so they should be. There has been little to celebrate culturally in the northern lands in recent years, so this wonderful project really lifts the spirit.

It was nice to see Glasgow band Primal Scream performing at the opening and, with reference to Glasgow, I am especially drawn to the restored Charles Rennie Mackintosh Oak Room from the Ingram Street Tea Rooms in the museum. This is a ‘lost’ Mackintosh work reputed to be the prelude to the destroyed Glasgow School of Art Library. The Oak Room and the recent restoration of the Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow are counterpoints of hope to the otherwise unmitigated disaster of the Glasgow School of Art.

The V&A is part of the Dundee Waterfront, a visionary 30 year town planning project, now half way through, and bearing  fruit for its city of around 140,000 people.

Time to drive up the M74, M8, M90 and have a look!

Photo by Ronnie Macdonald

Hampstead Garden Suburb

St. Jude’s Church in the central area designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

I’ve had an enjoyable afternoon at Hamstead Garden Suburb today, part of a private study project into the suburb and it’s buildings. The master planners were Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker, who also jointly designed Letchworth Garden City around the same time. A little later, Wythenshaw, Manchester was designed by Barry Parker. Edwin Lutyens also had a major influence on the suburb, especially in the design of the central area and the styling of many buildings.

Corringham Road

Hampstead is the most famous of all the pioneer Garden Suburbs and its layout, buildings, gardens and planting are all intensely artistic. I especially enjoyed the synergy between the architecture and the hedges and gardens. Hampstead may have been designed a hundred years ago but its appearance is recreated every year through the activities of its gardeners.

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Building the future on a great heritage

The Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA for short) has been going ever since modern planning was invented. It was originally called the Garden City Association and has direct links to the heritage of the Arts & Crafts Movement (writ large) and the three pioneering garden cities of Letchworth (by Barry Parker & Raymond Unwin) and Welwyn Garden City (by Louis de Soissons), both in Hertfordshire, and the larger Wythenshaw (by Barry Parker) in Manchester.

Alkrington Garden Village was designed by Thomas Adams of the Garden City Association and Letchworth Garden City. The semi-detached houses were designed by Arts & Crafts architect Edgar Wood. Photo. David Morris

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Briarcourt – a place of hope

I visited Briarcourt today. It’s an early Arts and Crafts Movement house at Lindley, near Huddersfield, built in 1894 for the Sykes family. The designer was Manchester’s Edgar Wood. He was related to the Sykes and consequently designed several buildings in the area, including the famous Lindley Clock Tower. Continue reading “Briarcourt – a place of hope”

Blackwell – The Arts & Crafts House

Travelling back from the Lakes, it was time for my annual pilgrimage to Mackay Hugh Baillie-Scott’s Lancashire masterpiece, Blackwell near Bowness, Windermere – a truly wonderful house. Below are some of my happy snaps taken on the phone (please forgive the quality).

If you’ve never been before, Blackwell is well worth a visit… the house excels as a beautifully kept ‘walk-in art exhibit’. It is a fantasy house every bit as much as, say, Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s House for an Art Lover.  I am trying to learn some of the lessons of the excellent crisp presentation at Blackwell, for when I advise my colleagues on the care of Walter Brierley’s house, Hollins Hill, a.k.a. The Haworth, Accrington.
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