Thursday, 1 January 2015

Raymond Erith

Raymond Erith
Iconoclassicist


For better or for worse the dominant mode of architecture in the period following World War Two was 'modernism', buildings were square, roofs were flat and the comfort of the occupant a low priority compared to the expression of form and volume. If you want to know why this was the case then you can't do worse then read Tom Wolfe's From Bauhaus to Our House although some have pointed out that modernism has since been superseded by post-modernism(1).


Herefordshire Folly 1961
Raymond Charles Erith RA FRIBA (that's Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects to you peasant) was having none of that. 

While his contemporaries excited themselves with the patterns wooden forms made in concrete and dreamed of vast depersonalised plazas, walkways and swathes of plate glass Erith drew on the classical tradition to build homes and public buildings that evoked the past without slavishly copying it.

There is about his work a joie de vivre so noticeably lacking from the work of his peers. I dare you to look upon his Herefordshire Folly, with it's copper awnings and it's rooftop viewing platform, without at least a hint of a grin.


That said he shared many of the foibles of his more 'modern' contemporaries, a strange disregard for kitchens for one and a love for spiral staircases that can only be kindled in the heart of someone who's never had to manhandle a wardrobe up one of the bloody things.


(1) Which is like modernism but with sloping walls and curvey bits added.

3 comments:

Jac said...

thanks, I wanted to see what it looked like.

Alison said...

Just as I imagined it in the book - looking forward to the next one, by the way.
Alison

Thomas Green said...

Blimey, even odder than I imagined. Poor Lesley, I hope you get her face fixed