Author Archives: gillian

On the roof with the Dyrham eagle

I suffer from acrophobia, a simple fear of heights as opposed to vertigo, which I believe involves dizziness and a wish to throw yourself off a high place. But to find myself at parapet level on a roof for a morning is not my usual idea of a good time, especially remembering how the eagle […]

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Home Thoughts

Reading yet another excellent blog from Municipal Dreams a few days after the return to government of an administration that threatens to extend the Right to Buy to housing association stock, led me to muse on the housing conundrum. When I first wrote for the professional journals, in the late 1970s, there were dozens of […]

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Time for Outrage?

In 1955 young Ian Nairn took the incandescent fury of the ‘poles and wires’ campaign, begun by John Betjeman and the proprietor of the Architectural Press Hubert de Cronin Hastings (‘H d C’) and, adding a whole thesaurus of blights on the face of Britain, put it all into his own words. Laid out on […]

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Words on architecture

Descriptive language is a great persuader, as I wrote in my most recent ‘column’ (what do you call a piece of writing which has no presence on paper?) in Building Design. Elizabeth Hopkirk’s spirited defence of No 1, Poultry as a contender for the best building of the century at the 20th Century Society event […]

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Seaside snapshot

I just spent considerably less than 24 hours in Llandudno, a place that I had never visited. And am besotted. Just a neat, well kempt (I gather due to the good offices of the Mostyn estate?) entirely Victorian resort, wrapped round a slow bow of a bay marked to one end by a (mostly) green […]

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The Ultimate Factory?

Here’s a version of my May piece for Building Design – which provoked some interesting comments. My book Factory, which came out in 2003, was a journey through the architecture of industry but BMW Leipzig was still to come. After 1989, the haemorrhaging of employment in the former GDR, particularly in heavy industry, drew BMW’s […]

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Municipal Values

      In this month’s Building Design column I mull over the idea that we used to take the amenities and facilities in our towns and cities for granted.  Now some survive, most are struggling but some have sprung back to life, spurred on by local effort. I enlist an eloquent cheerleader, the late […]

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Writing on the wall?

Readers of these words will never again flick through their copy of Building Design magazine each week. After many decades (I first wrote for the title almost forty years ago) it will no longer be on the page, disappearing to the online world, behind a paywall. What I have written is no longer a column […]

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Words on the Screen

  This is a review sent to me by Stephen Kay, in which he discusses televised architecture in general and Ian Nairn in particular. Cardiff City Council wants to demolish the Coal Exchange. Recently sound enough for the Fire Officer to allow it to be used as the superbly historic and richly patinated venue for […]

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A year ago in Newcastle-on-Tyne

Now that the transmission date of The Man Who Fought The Planners: The Story Of Ian Nairn has been confirmed as February 20th at 10 pm, on BBC4 (where else?!) I thought a picture or two of the very very chilly shoot last February might entertain Nairn fans. My contribution to Kate Misrahi’s film consisted […]

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