Sunday, 24 October 2010

Starchitects


Leeds has an interesting tradition of thoughtful architects, from Cuthbert Brodrick who built the mighty Town Hall (and then retired very young to live with a mysterious woman in a Paris suburb), to the current Civic Architect, John Thorp. John is the last person in Britain to hold this title, and has lived to see the city's architecture department shrink to himself from over 400 staff - such has been the reduction of directly-run municipal services in the UK. John's book on his skilful and patient 'urban dentistry' in modern Leeds is due out in the next year and much anticipated. Meanwhile, I have made use of, and much recommend, these books: Leeds, the back-to-front, inside-out, upside-down city (Stile Books 1979) a short but typically original series of ideas about the city by the late Patrick Nuttgens, who was professor of architecture at York university before becoming director of Leeds Polytechnic, now Leeds Metropolitan university. And How to be a Happy Architect (Black Dog Publishing 2008) a similar sparky collection of notions from Irena Bauman, who stirs up things architecture and planning-related most successfully in contemporary Leeds.

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