Surely the time has come for a mock Tudor revival?

A long time ago, in a construction technology far, far away, houses were made from thick oak beams tenon jointed and pegged, bricks or sticks and plaster to fill in the gaps to make walls. Often the filling was painted white and the timber stained black. This produces a very picturesque house that is also capable of achieving good height and wide spans. Nice. 

The look is so iconic and pretty that it has been replicated as a form of decoration, especially for upper storeys, in later periods when the structural needs have been answered more economically – usually with bonded brickwork. In terms of its symbolism the pattern occupies a very happy place, neither ecclesiastical like gothic stonework nor the pagan classicism of columns and cut profiles often associated with government or commerce. The feel is grand without being oppressive and having a rural or homely feel, perhaps even a bit leisurely. It also has an interesting relationship with modernism, being adopted by the rural Utopianism of the Arts and Crafts movement. So culturally, mock Tudor is (should be!) so hot right now. It’s the anticorporate building envelope. 

  

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Moseley road baths

Since 2013 the council have decided not to retain this and other pools in the city. Already neglected the building suffers from a lack of maintenance and the structure is past due for repair. A local group campaigns for it’s preservation and active use. Personally I would like to see proposals that avoid adaption to generic sports standards and instead seek to promote it’s unique qualities as a destination for character bathing. Many parts if the building including the bathing rooms, where men and women could take a bath, are disused. The building is linked to it’s sister building, a library, and harks back to an age of public buildings for health, education and improvement for the public. On our age of mean individualism there seem to be no political institutions who can support this kind of project. Hats off to you Edwardians!
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-100, +100

-100, +100 is a design unit at Moseley School of Architecture. The unit philosophy rejects the superficiality of contemporary style (which, right now, is either nowhere or in your face) and the distraction of present consumerist technology. Students are asked to make investigations of the existing built environment but only to study buildings which are at least 100 years old. The requirements of our built environment – shelter, communication, dignity, social engagement and resource responsibility – have not changed in this time, but we have been beset by a period of extreme ideologies and irresponsible and unattractive architecture. To avoid the transient fashions of today’s architecture the design proposals will be set 100 years in the future. Students are not asked to propose social or political changes but to design durable and appropriate structures which meet human social needs with responsibility.

Site investigations will look for construction typology, use and spaces in the Bourneville area in South Birmingham, proposed as an ideal community and providing a rich environment of socially beneficial spaces.

Front to Back

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA terraced street. Rows of fronts joined together to make, in some cases, a unified facade of repeated elements – like this one. The street becomes a place which is (as well as pretty straight) enclosed by a continuous patterned wall of doors, windows, brick and roofs. This is the smart public face, seen here with some nice ornamental mouldings which link together across the units. Nice.

The back is all different, because the back is a group of adjacent inhabited private spaces. Garden, fence, garden, fence. Even above the ground the architecture breaks out of the formality of the flat facade and steps forward, back, forward, back as the houses reach out into the space to get more rooms and more light into them. The walls go forward the roofs go with them. It makes a nice little pattern, up and down, as you can see here. Enjoy the sunshine people and look around.

The strange case

Two doors from one corner, on the left hand going east, the line was broken by the entry of a court; and just at that point, a certain sinister block of a building thrust forward its gable on the street. It was two storeys high; showed no window, nothing but a door on the lower storey and a blind forehead of discoloured wall on the upper; and bore in every feature the marks of a prolonged and sordid negligence. The door, which was equipped with neither bell nor knocker, was blistered and distained.

“Did you ever remark that door?” he asked; and when his companion had replied in the affirmative, “It is connected in my mind,” added he “with a very odd story.”

“Indeed!” said Mr Utterson, with a slight change of voice, “and what was that?”

– Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde