Brown, Neave (5 of 19). National  Life Story Collection: Architects' Lives

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  • Recording date

    2013-12-07, 2013-12-14, 2014-02-08, 2014-03-08, 2014-03-15, 2014-03-29, 2014-04-26, 2014-07-27, 2014-08-10, 2014-08-17, 2014-12-06

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, London

  • Interviewees

    Brown, Neave (1929-) (speaker,  male)

  • Interviewers

    Franklin, Geraint (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: Introduction and description of recent activities, including designing a house for NB’s nephew, additions to school at Alexander Road and visit to Joyce Lowry [JL], also at AA. [Problems with sound]. [00:01:53] Mentions women students at AA: JL; Janet Kay [Janet Jack] who married Bill Jack; Anna Tomlinson [Anna Hodgkinson], who became PH’s first wife; and Elizabeth Fitzgerald. Acceptance of women students at AA during NB’s time there. Two thirds of the students were from public schools. Around five women students. Liberal attitude of tutors. Mentions [George Finch], husband of Kate Mackintosh, also a contemporary of NB’s at AA. NB’s relief to find liberal ambiance at AA. [00:08:03] Orthodoxy and class awareness of time at Marlborough College and military service. [00:12:21] Description of Leonard Manasseh as first year master. AA only school committed to modernism. NB’s detailed knowledge of LC’s buildings. Criticism of LC’s urban plans such as Ville Radieuse. [00:16:54] Mentions NB, CG and DG’s rejection of Hilton Wright’s teaching programme; description of their alternative programme. [00:19:29] General remarks on NB’s group of friends at the AA. Description of PH. Account of how attitudes of NB’s group developed over time. Description of process of collaboration and discussion with friends. [00:30:28] Involvement with AA theatre group, and production of Duchess of Malfi with Dargan and Pat Bullivant and John Smith. Lack of home life; AA became a base. Mentions interest in reading poetry and literature. [00:34:53] Attendance of life drawing classes throughout life. Mentions plan made at Marlborough College to study literature and philosophy at Oxford and then attend art school. [00:36:28] Contrasting attitudes to modernism in Britain and America. Remarks on Festival of Britain’s role in introduction of modernism. As student, lack of involvement with organisations outside the AA such as the Institute of Contemporary Arts or the Independent Group. [00:46:19] Mentions friendship with BH and acquaintance with SA, who taught on structures at AA. Remarks on BH and SA’s designs for houses [80-90 South Hill Park, Hampstead] and [LCC housing estate at] Roehampton. Mentions own student project of split-level housing. Comments on appearance and military service of BH. Remarks on differing intentions and attitudes of returning military servicemen after the Second World War. [00:54:16] CG’s interest in LC at Marlborough College and participation in AA Council as student representative. Comments on CG’s departure from AA at end of third year, and later career. [00:58:10] Remarks on personality of DG. DG shared flat with NB and taught NB how to letter architectural drawings. Mentions Gulland House, designed by David Gray in his fifth year at AA. Remarks on student life: with DG in shared flat; coping with modest budgets; going to parties. [01:07:35] Description of PH’s fourth year housing project. On basis of this design, Leslie Martin [LM] employed PH in Cambridge. PH’s related design for St Pancras housing scheme. Comments on PH’s design for Brunswick Centre. Explanation of ‘elitist socialism’ of LM. LM used Brunswick Centre project to enable PH to establish private practice. From LM’s office PH designed Harvey Court, student accommodation [in Cambridge]; a house for Lord Adrian; and library studies which influenced law library [St Cross Building, Oxford] and design by Sandy Wilson [SW] [Colin St John Wilson] for British Library. Antagonism between PH and SW over credit for Harvey Court and influence of library studies on British Library. Relationship between PH’s [unbuilt] scheme for St Pancras Housing and The Brunswick Centre in ‘urban hierarchy’. Description of circumstances of Brunswick Centre development. Comments of [Camden borough architect] Sydney Cook [SC] on finishes to Brunswick Centre. Original intention to continue Brunswick Centre to north and central covered shopping area. PH’s opposition to later supermarket. [01:21:26] PH’s work for [Alvar] Aalto in Finland during time at AA. PH’s introduction of architecture of Aalto to NB. Mentions Aalto’s housing at Sunila and Viipuri Library; Aalto’s palette of materials. [01:27:14] Student visit to see LC’s buildings in Paris and [Unite d’Habitation in] Marseilles. Importance of seeing buildings in reality, as opposed to drawings. Remarks on differences between LC’s pre-war and post-war architecture. JS and Peter Smithson’s criticism of LC’s post-war work. Mentions enriching influence of Madame [Hélène] Blavatsky and Theosophy on pre-war De Stijl movement. Mentions encountering LC’s work through publication [in Oeuvre Complète]. [01:38:17] Criticism of reductive aspect of MvdR’s architecture. Mentions MvdR’s Barcelona Pavilion and role in Weissenhof housing exhibition. [01:41:49] Story of lunch with LC during his visit to London to receive Royal Institute of British Architects [RIBA] gold medal. NB sent letter to LC during part-time military service with Territorial Army [as Class Z reservist]. PH, DG and NB picked up LC from Dorchester Hotel in Bayliss Thomas car. Conversation with students in restaurant off Euston Road. Anecdote of mistaken overcoat. [01:49:23] Description of drawings made by LC at lunch.

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