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Letting in the Light: the Council for Art and Industry and Oliver Hill’s Pioneer Schools

Letting in the Light: the Council for Art and Industry and Oliver Hill’s Pioneer Schools The British architect Oliver Hill (1887–1968) was an important and influential figure in the inter-war period. His ability to cross the boundaries of architectural style ensured career longevity and success, but invited a reputation as a half-hearted Modernist, lacking the rigour of his Modern Architectural Research (MARS) Group contemporaries. This view was acknowledged by the MARS chairman Wells Coates (1895–1958), in an early group memorandum of 1933, where he asserted that: ‘Certain people [including Oliver Hill] who are popularly and notoriously known as “modern” architects do not qualify in our sense.’ Unquestionably, there were two sides to Hill’s architecture, as he himself recognized in 1937: ‘Today, my love is divided between the new and the old.’ While the MARS Group stuck rigidly to the dogma of the Modern Movement, Hill’s understanding and application of Modernism developed throughout the 1930s. Hill’s Modern buildings chronicle his shifting concept of modernity, reflecting the numerous sub-movements and strands of Modernism in inter-war Britain rather than any halfheartedness in his approach. Commonly remembered for his glitzy early examples of ‘the new’, such as Joldwynds (1930–32) and the Midland Hotel in Morecambe (1932–33), Hill’s Modernism was initially based upon a use of glass and silvered surfaces that straddled Art Deco and the International Style. Yet opulence was gradually replaced by a social concern focused on children’s welfare, evident in a series of exhibits, unrealized projects and school buildings. Hill’s later inter-war Modernism also reflected a wider move toward local materials and construction techniques that acknowledged the peculiarity of English conditions. This article contextualizes Hill’s adoption of Modernism and explores his public work of the late 1930s that combined his fascination for the new with his respect for national tradition. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Architectural History Cambridge University Press

Letting in the Light: the Council for Art and Industry and Oliver Hill’s Pioneer Schools

Architectural History , Volume 54: 34 – Apr 11, 2016

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References (11)

Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain 2011
ISSN
2059-5670
eISSN
0066-622X
DOI
10.1017/S0066622X0000407X
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The British architect Oliver Hill (1887–1968) was an important and influential figure in the inter-war period. His ability to cross the boundaries of architectural style ensured career longevity and success, but invited a reputation as a half-hearted Modernist, lacking the rigour of his Modern Architectural Research (MARS) Group contemporaries. This view was acknowledged by the MARS chairman Wells Coates (1895–1958), in an early group memorandum of 1933, where he asserted that: ‘Certain people [including Oliver Hill] who are popularly and notoriously known as “modern” architects do not qualify in our sense.’ Unquestionably, there were two sides to Hill’s architecture, as he himself recognized in 1937: ‘Today, my love is divided between the new and the old.’ While the MARS Group stuck rigidly to the dogma of the Modern Movement, Hill’s understanding and application of Modernism developed throughout the 1930s. Hill’s Modern buildings chronicle his shifting concept of modernity, reflecting the numerous sub-movements and strands of Modernism in inter-war Britain rather than any halfheartedness in his approach. Commonly remembered for his glitzy early examples of ‘the new’, such as Joldwynds (1930–32) and the Midland Hotel in Morecambe (1932–33), Hill’s Modernism was initially based upon a use of glass and silvered surfaces that straddled Art Deco and the International Style. Yet opulence was gradually replaced by a social concern focused on children’s welfare, evident in a series of exhibits, unrealized projects and school buildings. Hill’s later inter-war Modernism also reflected a wider move toward local materials and construction techniques that acknowledged the peculiarity of English conditions. This article contextualizes Hill’s adoption of Modernism and explores his public work of the late 1930s that combined his fascination for the new with his respect for national tradition.

Journal

Architectural HistoryCambridge University Press

Published: Apr 11, 2016

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