Brown, Neave (10 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 10: Recap of NB’s career in the 1960s: shared office in Covent Garden with AH; work with Paul Manousso. Description of unbuilt housing scheme in Lillington Street. Richard Gibson [RG] suggestion that NB apply for job at London Borough of Camden. Showed chief architect SC and councillor Peggy Duff around Winscombe Street and offered job. Work on outline study of area north of Camden Town. Relationship between SC and chief planning officer Dr Bruno Schlaffenberg [BS]; description of BS. BS’s dismissal of NB’s outline study. [00:08:00] Account of circumstances of NB getting job at Camden. Outlines group structure of architect’s department; group leader a Polish architect named Podleski. Mentions work space within architects’ department, located in former Holborn town hall. Arrangement with SC about NB’s teaching commitments and private architectural jobs. Other architects at Camden included RG, Bill Forrest [BF] (mentions Elsfield, housing on Highgate Road). [00:16:05] Introduction to Fleet Road housing project, affected by strategy of raised walkways planned by BS and colleague Tony Michael. Description of route planning for area around Fleet Road, and how upper level circulation of NB’s design anticipated this. Mentions NB’s unbuilt design for Sea Cadet Training Centre and other public buildings projected for site. Site included former chapel, the studio of Merlyn Evans [ME], father of EE. NB’s conversion of chapel as part of Fleet Road scheme. Remarks on work and reputation of ME, and NB’s friendship with ME and EE. [00:23:00] Allocation of planning density to site. Fleet Road the first low-rise high-density housing scheme in Camden. Incorporation of garaging into the scheme. Fleet Road exceeded the planning density. Mentions discussions of scheme with [Camden Housing Manager, L.] Rowley. Hierarchy of walkways, from strategic raised walkways to streets to alleys. Completion of final drawings and model. [00:32:53] Description of Fleet Road scheme, referring to model in NB’s possession. Comments on semi-public nature of communal gardens and private terraced gardens. Remarks on process of design. Relation of planning strategy to aesthetics, using example of street elevation [visible from NB’s window] which expresses disposition of housing units. Comments on aspects of detailed design of scheme. Public lack of vocabulary to discuss housing designs. [00:44:28] Story of presentation of scheme to committee. Builder contractor C.P. Roberts selected at tender, but nomination of Camden’s own [direct works] building department, against NB’s advice. Remarks on construction of Fleet Road scheme. David Porter site architect who ran building contract. Alterations to area planning scheme midway through project. Comments on urban scale of road frontage and monumental staircase at end. [Some mic noise around 00:52:16]. [00:52:19] Story of planners’ omission of bridge over Southampton Road. Remarks on verbal communication of projects. Detailing of balustrades and windows and similarity to Winscombe Street. [00:58:57] Differences between pre- and post-war work of Le Corbusier; change first manifested in windows in his own apartment. Continuities between NB’s schemes. Description of window elevation of Fleet Road apartments. [01:02:50] Comments on design process, and reciprocal relationship between thinking and mark making. Importance of responding to aspects of the urban environment. Social goals of post-war architecture and planning. Government emphasis on industrialised building systems, preferred dimensions and metrification in 1960s; NB’s arguments against adopting these systems at Alexandra Road. Alexandra Road the end of a period.

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