Chris Rogers  |  Writer on architecture and visual culture

Places just to 'be'

By Chris Rogers, Aug 21 2019 05:40PM

Writing today for the World Architecture Festival, Jonathan Meades (who, by the way, dissects the architecture of Franco’s Spain on BBC next Tuesday) rightly bemoans the mediocre buildings of today. Where, he asks, are those that are responsive to local topography, that “climb hills, turn corners, offer shade and rest and include within their fabric small shops, bars and cafés, plus useful services.” It can be done, of course, and was... in the permeable skyscraper lobbies of New York and Chicago, which offered a handy cut-through, shoe-shine or newspaper; in the nooks and crannies of Manchester’s post-war stars like Brett & Pollen’s luxuriously blue and bronze Pall Mall Court; and in each of several small-scale courtyard developments in St Albans, Hertfordshire, since 1945. Britain’s capital, it’s true, has missed out, perhaps from fear of damaging its richly historic fabric. And yet plans of that era had a lighter touch than commonly supposed, with respectiful infill and many little pausing places in the tight urban grain of the City of London envisaged by Holden and Holford and illustrated exquisitely by Gordon Cullen. So yes, let’s not ignore that need for built-in wellness and visual interest and embrace a bit of calm, friendly architecture.

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Chris's first book examines the career and works of British architect Michael Pearson, the third generation to head the practice founded by his grandfather in 1904. Pearson's presidency of the Architectural Association and his pioneering and prescient Burne House building are covered.


"Throws light on significant achievements" 


 Patrick Duerden, Practice Director, Donald Insall  



Black Dog Publishing, 2010  


ISBN  978 1 906155 73 5

PoP as pub - cr

Become an architectural detective with Chris's second book, investigating the styles of a thousand years of building in the world's most visited city from the middle ages to the present day. Illustrated and with photographs, maps and addresses, also included are a list of resources and a two-part introduction.


"A little gem"


Terry Philpot, Tablet


Ivy Press, 2016 with Larousse (French edition) and Akal (Spanish)


ISBN 978 1 78240 406 4  


cover apr 16

Chris's third book - a publisher's best-seller - reveals the hidden gems as well as the iconic landmarks of London's rich built history, from shops that survived the Great Fire to the 2012 Olympic village. Covering the West End, City and Docklands, the book follows the same format as How to Read Paris.


"Rather wonderful"


  – Don Brown, The London Society


Ivy Press, 2017  


ISBN 978 1 782404 52 1  

final cover L

Chris is one of more than a dozen specialists whose essays fill this fresh examination of the charms of Paris, which is edited by John Flower. Looking at the French capital's history, culture and districts, each item can be read in just half a minute and is illustrated with its own collage-style spread.


Ivy Press, 2018  


ISBN 978 1 782405 44 3  

Portfolio - cover BSMC

Commissioned from Chris by the Chief Magistrate for England & Wales to mark the closure of Bow Street Magistrates' Court, this pamphlet celebrates the world-famous institution and its final home. It was given exclusively to guests at a commemorative reception.


"I really like both the research behind it, and its clarity and accessibility"


Susan Acland-Hood, Chief Executive, Her  

   Majesty's Courts & Tribunals Service  


Private press, 2006        


The Twentieth Century Society’s new peer-reviewed Journal on commercial architecture in Britain since the 1920s includes Chris’s piece on Fitzroy Robinson's pioneering atrium buildings in the City of London. The piece is founded in original research including archive imagery, interviews and site visits.


Twentieth Century Society, 2020


ISBN 978 0 955668 76 0