Re-forming Britain : Narratives of Modernity before Reconstruction book cover
1st Edition

Re-forming Britain
Narratives of Modernity before Reconstruction

ISBN 9780415334082
Published December 26, 2006 by Routledge
288 Pages

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Book Description

Re-forming Britain considers the nature and practice of architectural modernism in inter-war Britain in a new light. Bringing hitherto little considered protagonists and projects to the fore, it argues that rather than being an imported idiom, the new architecture in Britain formed part of an ongoing attempt to make a modern nation.

Spanning the period 1925-42, the book focuses on the key sites from and through which architectural modernism emerged in the UK. Part one considers the main arena in which a will to modernize Britain developed in the 1920s. In parts two and three the author documents, contextualizes and explains how this modernizing will was given modernist form, discussing the work of architects such as Wells Coates, Maxwell Fry, and Connell and Ward, and their allied ventures with likeminded reformers in other fields. These collaborations produced ‘narratives of modernity’: buildings, projects, exhibitions and books, through which, the book argues, modernist reformers were able to persuade politicians, and those with influence upon them, that modernism was the means to re-form the nation.

Re-forming Britain offers the first in-depth analysis of well-known modernist schemes such as Kensal House and the Pioneer Health Centre but also brings previously little studied or unknown activities to light. This important work invites a new understanding of the nature of architectural modernism in inter-war Britain and the ways in which it ultimately gave form to post-war Britain.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Re-forming Britain: Narratives of Modernity before Reconstruction  Part 1: A New Spirit  1. The Conditions for an Architecture for To-Day  Part 2: Rhetorical Modernism  2. A New Landscape of Health  3. Modern Dwellings for Modern Needs  4. New Homes for Old  5. The Modern Flat  Part 3: Towards a New Britain  6. A Living Contemporary Architecture

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Elizabeth Darling trained as an art and architectural historian at University College London. Since then she has taught, researched and published in the history of 19th and 20th century architecture. She is now a Reader in Architectural History at Oxford Brookes University.


'Recommended reading for all those with a serious interest in the development of Modern architecture in Britain.' - Twentieth Century Society Journal

'The book is essential for those studying modernist architectural practice in context. It does for the inter-war period what Andrew Saint’s Towards a Social Architecture and Nicolas Bullock’s Building the Post-War World have done for the post-war period.' - Urban History Review