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220 × 171 mm
304 pages
221 illustrations
01 Mar 2007
Modern Architectures In History
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Britain Modern Architectures in History Alan Powers

How can the different strands of modern architecture in Britain be understood? For many British people, it remains an alien cultural import and minority taste, yet British architecture has never stood higher in world esteem than at the close of the twentieth century. In this book Alan Powers shows how beneath today’s achievements in architecture, past conflicts have not been resolved, as the country that invented industrial civilization has struggled to control its effect on cities and countryside. He examines developments and changes from 1900 to the present day in a series of thematic chapters, giving equal weight to technical, economic and moral aspects and demonstrating how architecture has responded to specific social needs and political pressures. Rather than giving a conventional account of stylistic tendencies, Powers listens to the arguments and conversations of the time in order to recapture the dominating issues of each decade, and locate the moments of transition in architecture and in the wider culture.

Featuring more than 220 images, including both recent and historical photographs, Britain is an authoritative yet highly accessible account of twentieth-century British architecture. Giving due regard to the separate identities of England, Scotland and Wales, the book also adds a new and original dimension to the perennial problem of defining ‘Britain’ in the modern world.

Shortlisted for the Sir Banister Fletcher Award 2008

‘Discarding all the tired narratives of Britain’s insular modernism as a faint echo of continental stylistic and technical bravura, Alan Powers gives us an erudite, spirited, sometimes irreverent – and ultimately sensitive – assessment of British architectural invention from the decline of Empire to the rise of Devolution. Architectural practice itself, and the changing economic and political policies that inflected its trajectories, are given prominence in dialogue with stylistic and intellectual trends. There is a lasting freshness to this account, and an ecumenical embrace of variety, that will make this lively text a standard for years to come.’ – Barry Bergdoll, Philip Johnson Chief Curator of Architecture & Design, Museum of Modern Art, New York

‘This brilliant book dispels the myth that modernist architecture has always been a European and American phenomenon. In a book that is as much about a history of twentieth-century British society as it is about twentieth-century British architecture, Alan Powers explores an architectural language that developed in a number of styles unique to modern Britain.’ – Kevin McCloud, designer, author and presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs, The Stirling Prize and Demolition

‘This thorough, thoughtful and balanced history is a must-read . . . the first comprehensive history of 20th century British architecture and although you may not share its viewpoint, it is absolutely essential that you read it at least once.’ – Thomas Muirhead, Building Design

‘Powers romps through the history of British modernism and its precursors with intelligence, flair and humour.’ – RIBA Journal

‘An account of the architectural twists and turns that drove Britain in each decade of the twentieth century. History has never been this interesting.’ – Grand Designs Magazine

‘Powers has written a captivating narrative history of modern architeccture in Britain. The book not only tells a fascinating story but also reminds one of the pleasure of writing such type of history.’ – Journal of Design History

‘highly recommended.’ – Timothy Brittain-Catlin, The Tablet

‘With more than 220 recent and historical photographs, this is an authoritative yet highly accessible account of 20th century British architecture, and adds a new and original dimension to the problem of defining “Britain” in the modern world.Church Building

‘With 221 illustrations, both contemporary and historical, this publication offers an authoritative account of 20th-century British architecture.’ – Professional Housebuilder & Property Developer

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Alan Powers is Reader in Architecture and Cultural History at the University of Greenwich. He is the author of several monographs on architects, including Serge Chermayeff (2001), and of the illustrated surveys The Twentieth Century House in Britain (2004) and Modern: the Modern Movement in Britain (2005).