C20 Journal 7 - The Heroic Period of Conservation

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Edited by Elain Harwood & Alan Powers

The idea that conservation can be ‘heroic’ is a deliberately provocative borrowing from Alison and Peter Smithson’s description of the 1920s as ‘The Heroic Period of Modern Architecture’. It was in the 1960s, just when the Smithsons were writing, that conservation emerged in Britain as a mainstream aspect of architecture, introducing precisely those issues about social purpose, urbanism and ecology that were central to architecture’s participation in the counterculture and its resistance to global capitalism.

This collection of essays looks at individual heroes such as Ian Nairn, Lionel Esher and Wayland Kennet whose convictions about the spiritual value of a good environment inspired public policy. It also explores early successes and failures in Scotland, Newcastle, York, Coventry, Plymouth and Kent, which demonstrated the potential for imaginative conservation and for public participation.

The Heroic Period of Conservation reveals the significance of conservation in British architectural and cultural history of the last fifty years, recapturing a valuable legacy that is now once more under threat.

255 x 197mm
160pp B/w illustrations colour cover.
Published 2004
ISBN: 0 9529755 6 4