Icon Magazine – Issue 196:
In our latest issue, John Jervis examines how petrol fuelled a new architecture in the 1950s and 60s, Farshid Moussavi tells us about curating the architecture section at the Royal Academy summer exhibition and Faye Toogood makes her comeback.
There is a romance around train travel that the car can never hope to match. And yet, this enthusiasm for rail is propelled by nostalgia more than unbounded adoration for our current status quo. The luxurious reissue of the British Rail Corporate Identity Manual and the excellent British Rail Designed 1948–97 by David Lawrence, both published last year, provide all the evidence you need. But no matter how much we eulogise the modernism developed under the auspices of nationalised industry – everything from graphics to high-speed trains – it was, almost inevitably, the ultimate symbol of rapacious individualism that changed everything.
As rail embarked on a steady decline, the car agitated a high-speed architectural revolution. Whole towns sprang up, their existence predicated in large part on the convenience of the car – Milton Keynes, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, being the most obvious example. And while the road isn’t going anywhere, the seeds of the car’s revolution is currently being sown in the Palo Alto desert by companies such as Waymo and Google. It’s interesting to speculate what new types of architecture the arrival of the driverless car on the mass market might bring. And, crucially, what existing structures will be levelled to clear the path.
A reckoning is already underway. Frank Blampied’s wonderful Welbeck car park equals the sci-fi brutalism of the celebrated Preston bus station, but a failed bid for listing and its subsequent sale to a hotel chain has cast serious doubt on the building’s future. Despite harboring one undisputed icon of 1960s rail, the New Street Signal Box (above), Birmingham – under the steerage of city engineer and surveyor Herbert Manzoni – bet its future on a mess of ring roads, the infamous concrete collar that the city is now endeavouring to shatter. And so we should examine the successes and failures of the petrol era carefully and with courage. They are markers for a particular place and time when car was the newly crowned king.
IN THIS ISSUE
Scene Unforgettable tales of architecture and design from last month
Diary Escape the heat of the summer to a quiet murmur of an exhibition
Crimes against design Too long have architects overpromised on flexibility
Opinon Instead of ideas, we need more meaningful solutions, says Roberto Verganti
Bang on! The enduring legacy of Bang & Olufsen
Emerging studio Peter Otto Vosding merges German precision with Scandinavian craft
Icon of the month Pelican Books: the high-minded and well-designed way to self-improvement
Q&A: Faye Toogood The prodigious designer is back and more sophisticated than ever
Towards a new luminary Designers and manufacturers creating new lighting typologies
Best of Euroluce The brightest lights that caught our eye in Milan
Q&A: David Dersken A young Dutch designer fascinated by illusions and materials
The petrol years Britain’s great, post-war journey to a golden age of transport infrastructure
Moore space Henry Moore’s Hertfordshire studio extension is an exercise in self-restraint
Building fashion Parametricism is the new black
The reluctant exhibitionist Stanton Williams builds a quiet museum wing in Nantes
Icon of the month How proto-modernist Charles Voisey inspired the world’s suburban vernacular
Q&A: Farshid Moussavi On her ever-evolving practice and Royal Academy’s problem with exhibiting architecture
Review: Design for the corporate world How a generation proved that corporate design can have a soul
Review: Brutalist Paris map The latest addition to the series showcases architecture beyond the Périphérique
Rethink: Punt e Mes Studio Iknoki brings the visual identity of an iconic Italian vermouth back to its roots
Obsession: Door handles Edwin Heathcote on the tactile pleasures of well-made door handles