Gowan, James (7 of 10) National Life  Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2012-06-20, 2012-09-18, 2012-12-05, 2013-10-22, 2013-11-12, 2013-12-04

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, London

  • Interviewees

    Gowan, James, 1923-2015  (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Dillon,  Niamh (speaker, female)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: Track 7 [00:39:21] [Session Five: 22 October 2013] James Gowan on the decision to study his diploma at Kingston Polytechnic – mentions meeting Geoffrey Powell at Brian O Rourke’s office – reading books by FRS Yorke. [00:02:48] Mentions fees being waived as he had been in the Armed Forces. Tutors at Kingston Polytechnic: James Cubitt, Joe Chamberlain, Eric Brown – their admiration of ‘white’ architecture. His wife’s familiarity with London, JG reading a book on London maps. Effect of JB Priestley’s work – Labour’s election victory in 1945, prevalence of communist values. [00:11:25] JG on Glasgow’s architectural decline – choosing Rennie Macintosh to design the Glasgow School of Art – discusses the competition to refurbish the school of art. [00:15:51] JG on projects at Kingston Polytechnic – on how the tutors had little experience of building modern architecture because it was still a new discipline. [00:18:15] Mentions Walter Gropius’ book on modern architecture – ‘it was very Teutonic’. [00:21:56] Mentions the teaching being abstract at the time. [00:23:14] JG on how the student body was all committed to modern architecture – how the buildings weathered over time. [00:26:13] JG discusses modern architecture and how it weathers in comparison to Glasgow tenements. [00:28:32] Mentions that students were short of money at the time. JG mentions the Beaux Arts training prepared students to design ‘palaces for Rajah’s’. Reflects on the course he devised at the Architectural Association [00:33:02] explains why he thinks the Beaux Art course was the most effective. [00:34:44] JG on how he enjoyed the English students – his opinion of teaching architecture students [00:37:10] anecdote about students from public school – how the students were able to take criticism. Mentions the background of Kingston students.

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