Last edited 21 Jan 2024

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Institute of Historic Building Conservation Institute / association Website

C20 Magazine Issue 2023 1

C20 Magazine Issue 2023 1.jpg

Underrepresented building types in the statutory list continues to surprise. The first 2023 issue of C20, the magazine of the Twentieth Century Society, highlights this by way of an exploration of 20th-century fire stations. Billy Reading’s illuminating article sets out a potted history of this building type and a plea for greater recognition of its merits. Illustrations, drawn from a wide range of locations, cover the earliest extant 20th-century examples and the architectural treatments of the 1930s. Reading examines the technological innovations regarding architecture for firefighting; the impact of the second world war on fire services; and further post-war changes. These and other aspects are also covered in the author’s recently published book Fire Stations (Britain’s Heritage).

The appropriate upgrading of important 1970s modernist architecture can be a challenge. Catherine Slessor reports on the completion of the £68.25 million six-year refurbishment of Glasgow’s much-admired Burrell Collection. Barry Gasson won the original architectural competition. Slessor assesses whether the recently completed works have preserved the original magic, and in a what-if moment wonders how things might have turned out if second-placed Denys Lasdun’s pre-cast concrete pavilion, topped by a tinted glass space frame, had won instead?

Local authority housing is rarely the focus of heritage management, but John Boughton’s thought-provoking piece about the concept of well-designed council estates has brought this back into focus, based on his RIBA-published book A History of Council Housing in 100 Estates. Perhaps more schemes should be listed. Catherine Croft’s endpiece about conserving estates ‘What works – and what doesn’t’ highlights the key to conservation as finding sympathetic, affordable ways to upgrade thermal performance without destroying what makes the estate significant (and subject to heritage protection).

Well worth noting in this issue is a celebration of the work of an unsung army of architectural model makers that helped to shape ideas about 20th-century Britain, with some very striking examples of their work. Many of the examples are very ambitious and unrealised projects, including a pretty staggering 1972 proposed obliteration by Richard Seifert of Liverpool Waterfront.

This article originally appeared as ‘C20’ in the Institute of Historic Building Conservation’s (IHBC’s) Context 177, published in September 2023.

--Institute of Historic Building Conservation

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