Architecture Venice: The gilded cage

James Bond’s obituary has been written many times, on screen and off, but he triumphantly returns in Skyfall. The themes of the film are discussed in a piece that analyses its power, whilst in another article the architectural world of illusion created by the film-makers is uncovered.


Television TV times

The museum, that grand building containing art or artefacts standing proud in the town square, has become the signifier of cultural awareness for a nation. Long-established institutions have enlarged their premises every twenty years or so, newcomers have arrived, and even the smallest or least likely of cities has striven to open galleries...

mus - bm

In partnership For Art Quarterly, the Art Fund's magazine, The Interpretation Of A City

In bookshops The Power of Process – the Architecture of Michael Pearson 

The third generation of his family to head the practice founded by his grandfather in 1904, Michael’s own 50-year career includes teaching at and presidency of the Architectural Association and a pivotal role in the fight for its independence, friendship with major British architects of the period including Cedric Price, Jim Stirling and Roy Landau and contact with international figures such as Louis Kahn and Jean Prouvé.

Michael’s architecture is one of technical innovation, economy and sensitivity for local conditions. Change is coded in from conception. Work across the world, including entries for the Pompidou and Tête Défense competitions, culminated in the radical and prescient Burne House in London, the first commercial building in Britain with a fully interchangeable modular cladding system, years before similar work by Rogers, Grimshaw and Foster. A strong belief in meaningful engagement with users rounds out this fascinating practitioner who moved in a critical phase of post-war British architecture and continues to practise today.

This is a rare opportunity to hear an architect experience, recall and review his own work with candour and humour.

"Burne House... and... Michael Pearson’s career bear comparison with other projects and other architects of the period… this book throws light on... significant achievements"

PoP as pub - cr

- Black Dog Publishing
- August 2010
- Softback, 192 pages
- 300 images, 28cm x 23cm
- ISBN 978 1 906155 735

Patrick Duerden Associate, Donald Insall Associates

"Congratulations on such a handsome and interesting book... Pearson has been a rather under-rated and slightly over-looked figure... your book does a very great deal to redress his position"

John Robertson Director, John Robertson Associates

“Splendid work… I have really enjoyed it… I hope it will be a great success”

Andrew Murdoch Director, Aukett Fitzroy Robinson

“Overjoyed... we had no idea of his talents, achievements, or width and breadth of his periods and styles of buildings. Just amazing… a treasure forever”

Available via the AA Bookshop
Architectural Association
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

Andi Ewen for whose husband Michael designed a new studio

Click for web-exclusive additional content complementing the published edition, including images and text, and coverage of the launch at the Architectural Association in November 2010

In preparation Lost world: The vanishing post-war architecture of the City of London

Research for my next book is underway. It will celebrate an overlooked, indeed almost forgotten, period in the development of London’s architecture – the post-war years, from the first shoots of economic recovery, through the boom years, and ending when the oil crisis hit, building stopped and commercial architecture pupated before emerging, damp and gleaming with new colour and uncertain direction, in the post-modern 1980s.

These buildings represent a lost age, a British architecture that combined traditional materials and craftsmanship in a friendly, softer Modernism for a City that was moving from bowlers and brollies to E-Types and the Barbican. It provided great American-style blocks in stone and glass set amongst Roman remains, a perfect world for the new meritocrats.

But the pressure cooker that is the Square Mile has seen demolition of this architecture at a startling, almost careless, pace since the 1990s taking examples modest and grand, mediocre and outstanding. It is a campaign of destruction rivalling that which gave rise to these buildings in the first place.

In its architecture, that lost age showed a vitality, originality and quality that has never been matched, creating a world that has now vanished forever.

The new edition of the Twentieth Century Society’s magazine (issue 1/2013) contains an article by me on London Wall, the post-war dreamscape created by City of London planners that now lies forlorn and almost abandoned.

Its direct inspiration, mentioned in the piece, is illustrated and described in more detail on this site as a preview of research for the new book: Stockholm’s Hötorgscity, pictured right, is a remarkable survivor and makes for a fascinating comparison with its Square Mile sister.

Further such previews will follow.

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