Last year an odd-looking pink-and-yellow limestone building in London became the youngest structure in the UK to be protected for its architectural importance. Dreamt up in the 1980s but finished in 1997, No 1 Poultry’s curiously playful pastiche of styles and frivolous form is one of the best-known examples of the nation’s flirtation with postmodern architecture. The style (heavy on colour, borrowed leitmotifs of bygone classicism and much besides) originated in the 1980s as a backlash against those oh-so serious-looking concrete blocks that some architects saw as a blight on the landscape. Writers Geraint Franklin and Elain Harwood have amassed the UK’s best such structures – from Scottish homes that riff on the vernacular of ancient Sparta to Terry Farrell’s north London TV-am Studios – in an enchanting new book called Post-modern Buildings in Britain. The Batsford-published book is produced with the 20th Century Society and casts readers headlong into the wacky and ripe-to-be-rediscovered charms of those playful postmodernists. A thoughtful coda to the publishing glut of flowery but ultimately boring books on brutalism.
There’s strength in unity at Nuit Blanche (Sleepless Night) in Paris this year. As the EU and other parts of the world struggle with political fragmentation, artistic director Charlotte Laubard wanted the annual night-time festival of art, theatre and music to bring people from all corners of the city – and the world – together. Each of the works of art and installations displayed in the 1st and 18th arrondissements from 19.00 this evening until 07.00 on Sunday morning has been a collaborative effort, blending genres, disciplines and cultures. In the Forum des Halles on the Right Bank, 300 dancers and 150 musicians will unite in performance; at the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art the film Le monde ou rien (The world or nothing) by the French rap group PNL and Invernomuto will celebrate diversity. It’s an opportunity for people from all over to come together – even if only for one night.
Moscow is riding a new wave of urbanism with plans to repair many of its neglected buildings and public spaces. One such structure is Melnikov House, an avant garde gem built in 1929 by architect Konstantin Melnikov. The government-owned Shchusev Museum of Architecture has announced plans to restore the unkempt building to its former splendour by the end of 2018, with extra financial support from the LA-based Getty Foundation. The building is also partly owned by the government and it’s heartening to see Moscow uphold the heritage of a structure that was once a symbol of dissidence: Melnikov formerly conformed to Soviet-imposed styles but broke with the rules to build this house in the centre of the city.
New York’s Museum of Modern Art has now launched its first clothing-design exhibition since 1944. “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” explores the cultural significance of 111 garments and accessories from the past 100 years. Rather than remaining exclusively in the world of haute couture, the exhibition explores the history and connotations of everyday pieces, from a pair of flip-flops to Levi’s 501 jeans and the humble white T-shirt. But the pieces are anything but mundane and curator Paola Antonelli doesn’t shy away from the political. With the same brand of red hoodie worn by Trayvon Martin when he was shot and killed to the burkinis that were banned by the French government as part of the exhibition, the show is potent proof that even the most everyday items have a complex history. Talk about a fashion statement.
We explore best practice in the design of prisons and see how modern thinking is forging innovative architecture with a human touch.
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