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Here’s a classic from the BBC archives well worth a watch and a chuckle. When Trinity School opened in London in 1961 it was built on slum clearances. Instead of a “Victorian” design, the school was built in a series of “hyperbolic paraboloids” and was the “Sixties’ School” with all that new modernity purportedly promised.

One of the three architects responsible for the design meets with a few of the 1,200 girls who gently but firmly tell the architect what is wrong with his design, and politely make suggestions on how he might mitigate the errors.

This is absolute gold as the architect firstly displays a bit of annoyance with the questions, admits to one mistake, and then snips back on one obvious design error “I think you are exaggerating” and ” you will get used to it”.

I am sure architect Peter Chamberlin (he was also responsible for London’s  brutalist Barbican Estates) thought these “girls” who would  now be in their seventies today were going to give accolades for his design.

But no, the students  comment on the slippy brick stairs  (“a lady has already had an accident”), windows so high in classrooms you can’t see out, and blackboards that are located in corners where students can’t see them. There are windows that a child can fall out of  (the architect admits to that) and a girder at the foot  of a staircase which is a hazard when the student body rushes down the stairs. The architect is sure that’s not a problem, but the student says “well we’ve had one accident already”.

Enjoy this trip back to the modernist era, listen as the announcer trips his tongue over “hyperbolic paraboloids” and watch how these students educate this architect on the importance that form follow function. The BBC archive short video is below.

 

Comments

  1. There was a fuss recently in Toronto over the demolition of an allegedly excellent 1960s modernist school. Tellingly, none of the outrage came from people who had ever attended, or taught at, the school in question.

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