DOI link for Practising modernism
Practising modernism book
Just as there are many narratives available to explain chains of events in the history of modern architecture, so is it possible to choose a variety of actors to populate those narratives. The names of the elite and the avant-garde – sometimes, but not always, the same – readily suggest themselves. Certainly, their works do comprise an important element in this book, but the story of the practice of modernism justifiably embraces other, less celebrated architects. It includes those who worked in local authorities and private practices up and down Great Britain, whose contribution, as Dennis Sharp suggests, never enjoyed the immediate ‘limelight of publicity’. This chapter, therefore, introduces the dramatis personae of this study. Its first section analyses the rapid growth of the architectural profession after the Second World War. The next part reviews the backgrounds of those who worked in local authority architects’ offices and in private practice in the years from the mid-1950s through to the early 1960s. The ensuing segment adds insight into the business of becoming an architect. It considers what made modernism attractive and deals with education and training, the common ground of ideas and working approaches, sources of inspiration, and career choices, including the continuing attractions of internationalism. From this diversity of experience, we initially glimpse
There are no internationally consistent employment statistics for architects, but the non-standardised figures available for different countries give some impression of the impressive pace of postwar expansion. The USA, for instance, had 19,000 registered architects in 1950, 30,000 in 1960 and 47,000 in 1970, giving architecture a rate of growth that exceeded even that of the legal profession.2 Western Europe saw equally impressive increases when measured in relative terms. In Italy, for instance, there were approximately 4000 registered architects in 1959 and 6344 in 1969, a rise of 58 per cent over the decade.3 Architectural employment in France expanded from an estimated 5200 in 1957 to 8400 in 1968 – more than 61 per cent in eleven years.4 Despite starting off from a somewhat higher base level, architectural employment in Great Britain increased from 15,824 in 1949, to 19,183 in 1959 and 21,947 in 1969, a rise of almost 40 per cent over the two decades.