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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
Ulrike Weber
The advantage of a trip abroad. The emergence of architectural Modernism
17 January 2013

Green.park.tube.london.arpAbstract: English Modernism has been neglected for a long time. It is only recently that researchers developed an interest in that field. London’s Underground tube stations of the interwar period are one of the earliest examples, which demonstrate one kind of development of Modernism. In Interwar Britain the leading figure at the London Underground Group was Frank Pick (1878-1941). In the same time he was involved in a small organisation, called the Design and Industries Association (DIA). Pick adopted the theoretical background laid by the DIA for his commercial aims and carried it out step by step. He commissioned an external architect Charles Holden (1875-1960) together they developed a new architectural style for the London Transport system. Primarily this style was meant as a corporate identity for the London Underground Group. But because both Pick and Holden were involved in the DIA it should act as an example of an architectural identity for London as a whole city and by 1930 was eventually changed to an architectural idiom of the British nation. Therefore the stations of the Piccadilly Line can be seen as Pick’s development of a national architecture. But since European developments had played such a huge role it became a European style and, compared with American architecture, even international. Nevertheless the Underground architecture stands for the importance of the DIA, the strong influence that Pick and the world of commerce has on the architectural development of the interwar period and lastly, for architectural developments in the context of national identity.

 

Biography: Dr. des. Weber studied art history at the Technical University Berlin and archaeology at Humboldt University of Berlin. She graduated in 2004 in medieval architectural history. She undertook a course in Digital Art History in Munich between 2005 and 2007 and has received DAAD scholarships for research stays in London. She is a freelance art historian and has attended numerous conferences and written articles and reviews including those for the German architectural magazine, Bauwelt. Since 2009 she has been an assistant professor at Technical University Kaiserslautern in the Department of Architecture. She received her Ph.D. from the Technical University Berlin in 2012 with the thesis ‘Frank Pick, Charles Holden and the DIA: the significance of cultural transfer in English Modernism’.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
Lucy Maulsby
The Underground Above Ground
17 January 2013 
Air cooling on trial at Victoria station (Wikipedia)

Air cooling on trial at Victoria station (Wikipedia)

Abstract: Architectural historians interested in underground transportation systems have largely focused on the representational character of the passenger stations, such as those designed by Otto Wagner in Vienna and Hector Guimard in Paris, and positioned these works within standard are historical narratives, particularly the emergence of the avant-garde in the twentieth century. In contrast, my paper analyzes and discusses the ways in which architects, engineers, and others gave visual form to the more mundane but no less important functional elements of these transportation systems. Though the primary example of the Southwest Corridor Transit Project (Stull & Lee, 1987) in Boston – which made ventilation shafts a visible part of a new public park that laced through an established residential community – I trace changing attitudes toward subway infrastructure from the late eighteenth into the twentieth century. How and to what extent have architects participated in shaping the form and character of the mechanical equipment that is now an inevitable part of the urban landscape? To what extent have changing technologies (the switch from steam to electrically powered lines) changed the character of these projects? How do the different strategies employed by designers and engineers – from the masking of these systems behind false fronts as in Victorian London to their guarded acknowledgment in the Boston example – offer different models for understanding the extent to which infrastructure participates in the representation of civic life.

Biography: Lucy Maulsby received her M.Phil. in the History and Theory of Architecture from Cambridge University in England, before earning her PhD at Columbia University in New York in 2007. Her scholarship focuses on the relationships between architecture, urbanism, and politics, with a particular emphasis on architecture in modern Italy. Maulsby is currently completing her book manuscript Fascism, Architecture and the Claiming of Modern Milan to be published by Toronto University Press in 2013. She has presented her research in journal articles, book chapters and at numerous national and international conferences. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Northeastern University in Boston where she teaches courses in nineteenth and twentieth century architectural and urban history.

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British History in the Long 18th Century
Chancery Lane: politics, space and the built environment, c. 1760-1815
Francis Boorman (IHR)
19 October 2011

 

Chancery Lane

Chancery Lane (Wikipedia)

Sandwiched between the west and east ends of London, Chancery Lane was a focus point in England’s capital city and therefore an ideal place for lawyers to set up shop.  It is hard to imagine what life would have been like there in the eighteenth century.  The roads were tight and dangerous and represented an old, much smaller sized London than what had grown up around it over the last 100 years or so.  According to Francis Boorman the clash of classes was extremely evident here, with robberies common in its narrow streets as the rich fell foul to the poor, and as a place where women regularly prostituted themselves.  There were also many pubs and coffee houses in the district which can only have intensified matters.  With a distinct lack of street lighting this was a seedy place to hang around, but it was also a centre of law and order.

This paper focuses on the politics of public space in London and particularly its importance to radicals and conservatives in the long eighteenth-century.  Francis Boorman argues that Chancery Lane’s geographical and topographical location in London and its specific importance for the legal profession were crucial to its formation as a built environment.  Geographically Chancery Lane is located right in the middle of the west and east sides of London and fell under various jurisdictions.  Topographically Chancery Lane had narrow but busy streets causing congestion problems and encouraging high levels of accidents.

In addition Chancery Lane was viewed as the physical manifestation for the reputation of the lawyers who worked there.  For example building works by lawyers gave manifest significant criticism of the legal profession from the public.  People felt that lawyers were improving their place of work and getting rich off of other people’s money.  In the long eighteenth-century there was a very real perception that lawyers were dishonest, greedy, and untrustworthy.

Boorman explains all these issues in clear detail to show why the expansion and improvement of the road took so long to be achieved.  Even despite the money and workforce available through the Westminster Paving Committee and numerous complaints that the Lane was dangerous (especially near Fleet Street) nothing happened.  The main reasons for this was arguments between the local residents and the lawyers on who should pay as well as the difficulty of convincing the various jurisdictions under which Chancery Lane fell that they should act in unison.

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