This is the first overview of the career of Alison and Peter Smithson, the most controversial yet most widely-influential of post-war architectural practices. From their first youthful project, the school at Hunstanton, to their final works, they epitomised the idea of the avant-garde architect, and were strongly engaged with artists and critics and with groups and tendencies in Britain and beyond.
Structured thematically and chronologically, the book gives a coherent and compact narrative of the Smithsons’ work and ideas. As well as all of the major buildings – including the Economist complex, the Garden building at St Hilda’s College, and the Robin Hood Gardens estate – the book also discusses unbuilt projects, including substantial work for the British embassy at Brasilia and the Kuwait mat-building. It culminates with the less well-known factory additions, museum and house for Axel Bruchhäuser, a furniture manufacturer in Germany. Central to their work, Mark Crinson argues, was a concern with belonging, with how we identify ourselves with places in a context of change.
Lavishly illustrated with new colour images as well as original drawings and historic photography, this book is an essential read for architects, students and enthusiasts for modernism wanting to learn more about the Smithsons.
'In this book, Mark Crinson has achieved something much more valuable and interesting by elucidating the Smithsons' ideas while deftly placing them in the context of their period. [...] Concise, intelligent and beautifully written, this book does full justice to the architects and their time.'
Louise Campbell, Architectural History