Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Open House London 2014

This year I volunteered for Open House London as a guide on Burntwood School by Alford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) on Saturday 20th September. I used the volunteer pass to visit various other buildings with the Skinner Trevino House on Saturday night and Mayfield Road on Sunday morning, both of which were by the same architect, Luis Trevino. On Sunday afternoon Nicola Caiquo and I visited Dorset Road by Sam Tisdall and The Leadenhall Building by Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners to offer a variation in scale from everything else we visited. 

The highlight of the weekend was observing how engaged the general public were with both new buildings and old. One particular group I guided around Burntwood School were past students of the school in the 1960’s and it was their first time back since they graduated. 

The assembly hall and pool building, designed by Sir Leslie Martin, has been retained and it is their relationship with the new performing arts building and sports hall that had the greatest effect on this particular group. They commented on how the performing arts building is a 21st century interpretation of Sir Leslie Martin’s adjacent assembly hall. The group’s collective memory of the assembly halls distinct veneer smell instantly placed them into their student mind and numerous stories were shared. A similar experiential discussion occurred in the pool building and I felt privileged to be a part of this shared spatial memory. 

Sir Leslie Martin’s wrote that "Architects must respond to the old forms and materials and perceive their true intent in their own age, and then, remembering everything, start again. This is the essential intention of tradition." AHMM stuck to this philosophy through continuing some forms used by Martin but developing new forms that respond to the technical developments in precast concrete and the specific brief for Burntwood School.

Burntwood School Tiles

Burntwood School Canopy

Sir Leslie Martin's Pool at Burntwood School

Sir Leslie Martin's Assembly Hall at Burntwood

Stairway at Dorset Road

Mayfield Road Interior

View from the Leadenhall Building