We learnt over the weekend with great sadness of the death of Pascal Schöning. Pascal taught at the AA from 1983 through to 2008 in Diploma Unit 3. This was a much loved Unit for many generations of pupils; whether what he was teaching was architecture, was a much wider question for external examiners and for rigid professionals. Pascal himself relished the fact that his students’ final work rarely contained a building. But behind his façade of indifference to much architectural production, he was in fact an acute critic of architecture which seemed to flow in his blood. His answer to the question of what flowed in his blood was that he was descended from Karl Friedrich Schinkel and had been brought up in one of his villas. Over the years, increasingly his teaching and his interests focused upon film. Initially, this was born of an absorption in the Nouvelle Vague of French cinema starting in the late 50’s. The cinema of Jean Luc Goddard, in particular Le Mépris, captured him.
Pascal was born in Germany during World War II and his childhood memories fixed on the bombing of Hanover and Berlin. The flickering light of the bombing was his enduring memory. By twenty he was studying architecture in Berlin but certainly that did not take up too much of his time. The claims of theatre, the visual arts, film and politics absorbed him. In 1983, given the exhaustion and defeat of the challenge to the state, and the partial repression of its Nazi past, he moved to the AA to teach. Over the next years he taught both at the AA as well as at the Bartlett and East London Polytechnic as it was then. He had a talent for finding and releasing students’ projects. His pedagogy was based on permitting an extended collective discussion to take place from which individual students would take away what they gained and transform it towards drawing and video. In later years this teaching led him to what he conceived as Cinematic Architecture, an architecture more concerned with space and events than with physical buildings and materials. He was the author of ‘A Manifesto for a Cinematic Architecture’ (2006), and ‘Cinematic Architecture 1993-2008’, both published by AA Publications.
Later in his career, he developed a serious cancer of the jaw. It was entirely characteristic that his friends and colleagues had to bully him to seek medical help. Although he was cured, his health remained frail. The effects of increasing deafness were only mitigated by the fact that, as he said, he never really bothered to listen to people. His continuing liveliness was undoubtedly attributable to a continuous diet of cigarettes. At his retirement he was awarded an honorary AA Diploma. He was hardly able to speak about his feelings; his love for the school and for its students was enacted daily in his teaching.
Mark Cousins, 4 July 2016
(image: Pascal in the AA Cinema, which he inaugurated in 2009, photographed by Valerie Bennett)
It is with great sadness to report on the recent death of the graphic designer and illustrator Dennis Bailey. Dennis was the art director of AA Files for its first 22 issues (later succeeded by his wife Nicola), and in this capacity he developed not just the format but the elegant layout and typography of the journal in its first ten years – models still integral to the design of AA Files today. Dennis was part of the golden generation of English postwar graphic designers – alongside Alan Fletcher, Derek Birdsall and Richard Hollis – and in addition to his work for the AA, he art directed Town magazine, taught at Chelsea School of Art, and produced covers and editorial designs for Penguin, The Listener, The Economist, New Statesman, the British Council and the Arts Council.
Jane Fawcett MBE Hon FRIBA LRAM ARCM Grad Dipl Cons AA 1921 - 2016
The AA is sad to report that architectural historian, and former AA tutor and lecturer, Jane Fawcett has died, aged 95. Fawcett was academic tutor and lecturer to the Building Conservation Graduate Course at the AA during the 1970s, the Secretary and Committee member of the International Council on Monuments and Sites UK, architectural consultant to the Yorkshire Dales National Park and Council member of the CPRE. She re-surveyed the list of Historic Buildings for English Heritage, was consultant to the English Heritage Tourise Board on Cathedrals and Tourism, and was awarded the MBE and Hon FRIBA for services to conservation.
Jane Fawcett was still in her teens when she began working at Bletchley Park. After the second world war she became a singer and then a conservationist.
It was typical of Jane Fawcett’s forthright style that after being introduced in 2014 to the Duchess of Cambridge, who was visiting Bletchley Park’s refurbished Hut 6, where Germany’s wartime Enigma ciphers were broken, she refused to let go of the duchess’s hand until she had told her how important the women who worked there had been in winning the second world war.
Fawcett, who has died aged 95, was one of thousands of young women recruited to work at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, during the war, carrying out every role from clerical work to codebreaking. It was not who, or what, you were at Bletchley that mattered; it was what you were capable of. Fawcett was proud of having made her own contribution in May 1941 when the Royal Navy was trying to track down the German navy’s most up-to-date battleship, Bismarck, in the north Atlantic.
The Admiralty had not believed the Bletchley Park analysts who told them that the Bismarck was heading for France until shortly after Fawcett came on shift in Hut 6. She was just 20. Working as a decoder, typing what seemed like gibberish into a British Typex cipher machine modified to operate like the German Enigma machine, she realised that the message emerging in German revealed that the Bismarck was heading for the French port of Brest. It was this vital piece of information, confirming what the Bletchley analysts had been saying, which allowed the Royal Navy to track down and sink the Bismarck before she reached French shores.
She was born Janet Caroline Hughes in London, the daughter of George, the clerk of the Goldsmiths’ livery company, and his wife, Margaret (nee Graham), and was educated at Miss Ironside’s school for “young ladies” in South Kensington, which saw no value in young women taking exams or going to university. In an early display of independence, she dropped the last letters of both her given names and thereafter was known only as Jane.
She won a scholarship to Rada, but turned it down to train as a dancer under Ninette de Valois at Sadler’s Wells, where she shared studios with the young Margot Fonteyn. But after landing a part in Swan Lake, Fawcett was told by De Valois: “Your back’s too long and you’re too tall. We can’t use you.”
Her parents sent her and a friend to Switzerland to learn German under the tutelage of a doctor in the Zurich suburb of Rüschlikon, but, deciding that it was too boring, they decamped to St Moritz. Jane was then forced reluctantly to endure “the season” in London, the year when young upper-class women in their late teens attended a series of parties, and events such as Wimbledon and Ascot, and were presented to the Queen.
She was recruited to Bletchley along with a number of other debutantes deemed unlikely, by the nature of their background, to spill the beans. That idiosyncratic approach soon collapsed under the immense pressure of breaking first the German and Italian codes and then those of the Japanese, and by the end of the war two-thirds of the more than 10,000 people working at Bletchley were women drawn from all social backgrounds.
Mavis Batey, one of the leading codebreakers and a close friend of Fawcett, would later point out that it was a place where “a girl of 19 with a bright idea would be encouraged to take it forward, long before any official equality for women”.
In 1947, Jane married Ted Fawcett, a former Royal Navy officer whom she had met during the war. She studied singing at the Royal Academy of Music while having their two children. “I went to my final exam with one of my children inside me and the other one asleep in a carrycot and the examiners kept asking me if I wanted to sit down because I was seven months’ pregnant,” she said.
She sang professionally for 15 years, undertaking operatic and recital work; her most prominent roles were Scylla in Scylla et Glaucus and trouser roles such as Octavian in Strauss’s Der Rosenkavalier and Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro. But the strain of touring while bringing up her children led her to quit and become the secretary of the Victorian Society, set up by Nikolaus Pevsner and others to preserve Britain’s historic buildings.
She and Pevsner, backed by John Betjeman and Prince Philip, waged a successful campaign against British Rail’s attempts to demolish London’s great Victorian rail terminuses. BR bosses dubbed her “the furious Mrs Fawcett” and she always regarded saving St Pancras station and its Midland Grand Hotel as being one of her most important achievements.
Fawcett stepped down in 1976. She was appointed MBE for her services to conservation and elected an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. She then set up a groundbreaking building conservation course at the Architectural Association and was pleased to discover that one of her students had recently been commissioned to work on saving the historic buildings at Bletchley Park.
Ted died in 2013. Fawcett is survived by her son, James, and daughter, Carolin.
The AA is saddened to learn that former AA Councillor and alumnus, Janet Jack, has died aged 81.
Jack, a former partner at BDP, is best known for her work with Neave Brown on the landscaping throughout the iconic 1970s housing estate in Camden, north London.The park, completed in 1979, lies at the heart of the 520-home estate. She filled the walls, steps and ramps created by Neave Brown with planting and playgrounds. She was also heavily involved in Erect Architects and J+L Gibbons restoration of the park was which completed last year. Jack had graduated in architecture from the Architectural Association in 1957 before focusing on landscaping. She joined BDP in 1981 and in 1986 Jack became the practice’s first female partner. She headed up the firm’s landscape architecture department and ran a large team in its London studio until 1991. While working at BDP Jack designed the landscaping for the Clore Gallery extension at the Tate Britain Gallery. She would go on to design the landscape settings for a number of James Stirling’s British buildings. Jack is survived by her husband Bill who was BDP chairman from 1989 to 1991.
Andrew Tindsley, landscape architect and company director at BDP
‘Janet played a major role in making landscape architecture one of BDP’s mainstream professions and though her design skills and tenacity set the foundations for much of what we do today.
’Her portfolio of work contains many notable achievements, not least her role in helping to successfully bring forward the Parliamentary Bill which enabled the UK Terminal of the Channel Tunnel to come to fruition.
’Whilst Janet has been away from BDP for many years, I believe that the foundations she laid helped our landscape architecture and now wider urbanism teams be as successful as they are today.’
Eleanor Fawcett, Friends of Alexandra Road Park
’It was a huge pleasure and privilege to have worked with Janet Jack on the restoration of Alexandra Road Park, the extraordinary modernist park which was her first major landscape project. I first met Janet in 2010, when I visited her to update on the plans to seek HLF funds for the restoration of the park. She was, as ever, welcoming and hospitable, but I suspect somewhat sceptical about our ambitions and nervous about the damage that a misjudged ‘restoration’ could do to her design. She was clearly very saddened by the state of the park after years of neglect, and had not felt able to visit it for almost a decade.
’Throughout the restoration project Janet provided advice and inspiration to the design team, always ready with her encyclopaedic knowledge of every aspect of the park, 40 years on, from irrigation systems to handrail details as well as the stack of her beautifully hand drawn planting plans. Her meticulous attention to detail alongside her enthusiasm for the project and the creative re-interpretation of some of her original playgrounds made these design sessions at her beautiful house a highlight.
’Everyone involved in the project was delighted that despite her ill health Janet was present first at the ground breaking ceremony for the restoration works, and then at the opening event where the park looked glorious, and which truly marked the beginning of a new chapter for this stunning legacy of Janet’s skill as a designer of beautiful landscapes.’
Susanne Tutsch, Erect Architecture
'I met Janet working on the Alexandra Road Park project and putting a RIBA talk together last summer when she was already very ill but determined to set this aside and dedicate herself to this ‘little project’. I loved our exchanges.
I was always struck by how Janet started practising when her profession rarely existed, collaborating with architects so unaccustomed to the idea of collaborating with landscape architects, working in a man’s world, quietly asserting her place, innovating and contributing so much - after all Alexandra Road Park was the first 20th century landscape to be listed - without feeling the need to make a big fuss about it. A good dose of humour and an ability to chuckle about architects’ vanities (rather than getting worked up about them) seemed to help - at least decades later when I met her.
As for Alexandra Road Park she still had a passionate interest now to see how the park developed through time and use. She took great pleasure from seeing people enjoy the park, recollecting watching a family equipped with ladders harvesting cherries, or noting informal paths being created through the bushes by playing children (just as she had hoped).
I admired how Janet stayed young, interested in new ideas, landscape and place making debate. She was keen for the park to be modernised where it needed to be (for example the playgrounds) and openly acknowledged so without vanity, wholeheartedly supporting us all the way through (the play debate at the time was altogether non-existent and her brief very limiting).
I think the recent refurbishment of the park meant a lot to her. Thank you to the residents to make that happen in time for her to see the park restored, future proofed and so loved!
Her work will carry on bringing so much pleasure to people. What a gift to leave behind!'
A full obituary will follow within coming weeks.
Image: Janet Jack (nee Kaye), 1956-57. Smith's Carn, Annet, Scilly. ENE elevation. Courtesy of AA Archives. In February Janet kindly donated to the AA Archives several of her projects from 1957, including her ‘Open Borstal for Girls’ and ‘Bird Observatory, Annett Island, Scilly isles’.
Zaha: No architect in the world had the affect you did on AA students, graduates, colleagues or other architects. Here, there or anywhere. You always knew this was your greatest talent amongst so many others: the ability to change other architectural minds in a time when that grows increasingly improbable.
Amazingly, for a person filled with unswerving opinion, this was also one of the very few things you never commented upon, uttered a word about, or hinted an explanation for.
You lit rooms, presentations and conversations a thousand different ways, as if one of your paintings. You wrote lightning-speed late-night text messages as if miniature, instantaneous 21st century manifestos.
Everyone everywhere today is remembering you this first day of April this first day after you by sharing pictures posting stories uploading links adding comments trading memories reminding each other of you with versions of your buildings and your drawings and your paintings and your words. Which no one else could have imagined, let alone could have made. Like you did, with such ease. Thank you.
You always knew your architecture was planetary from the start. Thanks for having the patience to let architecture catch up. It will hurt not having you in the future you always cared so much about. We all will love you the way you loved architecture -- in that future. Your future. Forever, Brett
(Image: Zaha Hadid 2002 @ the AA
The AA is saddened to report that former chairman and president of RMJM and AA alumnus, Sir Andrew Derbyshire, has died aged 92.
Derbyshire was born in Sheffield in 1923 and originally studied natural sciences at Queen’s Cambridge, graduating during the Second World War. After serving with the Admiralty Scientific Service as an experimental officer (1944-46), he retrained as an architect and completed his studies at the Architectural Association in 1952. His joint final year thesis, now in the AA Archives, remains one of the most outstanding pieces of work of his time and has been widely published.
Derbyshire, who was knighted for services to architecture in 1986, was responsible for a string of high profile buildings including Sheffield’s Castle Hill Market, when he was deputy city architect, and York University and Hillingdon Civic Centre, for RMJM. A major figure within the RIBA for many years, Derbyshire served on the RIBA Council and contributed to the institute’s office survey which led to the RIBA Plan of Work. He was elected senior vice president in 1981.
Tributes have been posted by publications including Building Design and Architects Journal. His son Ben, managing partner of HTA Design, is due to give an address on his father’s life at this week’s RIBA Council meeting.
Image: Heslington West Campus – York University by RMJM. Photographer R.Garrett. Courtesy of AA Photo Library.
The AA is saddened to learn that influential architect and AA alumnus, Patrick Hodgkinson, has died aged 85.
Hodgkinson, a Life Member of the AA and former Councillor, studied at the AA from 1950 to 1956 and later taught as a Visiting Lecturer. He was considered by such distinguished architects and historians as Neave Brown and Ken Frampton as the most talented student of his generation. The obituary below was written by Brendan Woods for the RIBA Journal.
"Emeritus Professor Patrick Hodgkinson AADipl (1930-2016) was in the 1960’s one of England’s most successful and influential architects running a practice from his large house in Bayswater and driving a dark blue Drophead Aston Martin.
At that time he was the architect for the redevelopment of the Foundling Estate - which was to become the Brunswick Centre - having acquired the commission when he was working with Leslie Martin in Cambridge and during which time he designed Harvey Court, transforming an initial scheme by Martin and Collin St. John Wilson into the canonical brick stepped section. This building exercised a considerable influence on a whole generation of architects and students and was described by a young Cedric Price in Granta as a “C14 building with 13 amp plugs”, much to Patrick’s enjoyment.
He had also had considerable influence on the design of the Oxford Law Libraries. Martin had heard of this talented student possibly via Aalto in whose office Hodgkinson had worked in 1956 before graduating from the Architectural Association but more likely via Wilson scouting for talented young architects. In Harvey Court he demonstrates his ability to fuse rationalist principles with Aalto’s profound humanism. Originally asked to become involved in a housing project for the London Borough of St. Pancras he became a central figure in the Martin Studio. When that project failed to proceed he continued to flourish under Martin’s benign aegis but regrettably developing a lifelong rivalry with Wilson.
Hodgkinson was one of an extraordinary group of students at the AA comprising Kenneth Frampton, John Miller, David Gray, Adrian Gale and Neave Brown who has said that he was ‘the most prescient of his AA cohort, for Frampton ‘the most talented’ and for Miller ‘he stood out as a star’. His 1953 Brixton Housing Project developed ideas in contradistinction to the then current LCC fashion for mixed development - inspired by Le Corbusier’s Ville Radieuse and Unite’ in Marseilles - wherein he explored the ideas of low rise high density, in an attempt to renew the city in a more English way building on the precedent of the Georgian terrace, enriched with a sectional complexity and providing a direct relationship to the ground and thereby the street. These were ideas subsequently developed by Martin and colleagues in the Land Use Built Form Centre in Cambridge.
His relationship with the Brunswick Centre came to an end when McAlpines, who had bought the site from the original developer, imposed an unrealistic programme for the working drawings and he felt he had no alternative but to resign. There then followed a very difficult time when a major commission in Oxford - Wellington Square - foundered, tutoring at the AA with David Shalev (when David Chipperfield was one of his students) he failed to land the deanship of Cornell and his second marriage was in trouble. Salvation of a kind presented itself in securing a teaching post at the University of Bath where he established himself, carving out a role as a passionate and inspired teacher. His illustrated talks on Utzon, Aalto and Mount Athos are still vivid in my mind from the early 1990’s when I got to know him while teaching there. It was in this mode that his teaching career came to a close around 1995.
Still combative he saw off attempts by other architects to alter and/or extend the Brunswick until Allied London had the inspired idea to appoint him as architect for the refurbishment in the late 1990”s. Assisted by Levitt Bernstein under the guidance of his old assistant David Levitt, he masterminded a transformation of the then unloved and unpainted SS Brunswick into a more intimately scaled and lively shopping concourse with Waitrose at its northern end and the previously utilitarian southern entrance transformed with Carluccios and French Connection replacing the ramps for service vehicles. It meant that the long period in the wilderness, during which he never doubted the good sense and architectural and urbanistic value of ‘his bit of Bloomsbury’, was rewarded by Mike Ingall of Allied London’s faith in him.
I have lived in this building for over 20 years and grown to appreciate what an extraordinary achievement it is. Few architects can boast of anything comparable. As Alan Powers wrote some years ago about the portico to Brunswick Square, “Against the evening light, or on a winter’s evening, the tall thin columns standing out against the chiaroscuro background provide one of the few genuinely sublime architectural sights of London”.
Image: 1994 Foundling Estate Brunswick Centre, London, by Patrick Hodgkinson. Source: Image by Derek Plummer, courtesy of AA Photo Library.
The AA is saddened to hear of the death of architect William John Baker FRIBA, known as John, who passed away in October 2015 at the age of 88.
John had a long and successful career working for 30+ years with James Cubitt and Partners (JC&P), establishing an office in Lagos in 1956, and becoming a partner in 1968. He was a partner at JC&P London for the rest of his career. He had been a member of the AA since 1996.
He will be greatly missed by architects, friends and family alike.
We regret to inform that AA Alumnus and Life Member John Burkett AADipl FRIBA FCIArb, has passed away aged 89.
John graduated with an AA Diploma in 1953. He went on to become a RIBA fellow and, later on, a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in 1971. In the 1970s he won the Financial Times industrial buildings award for a farm building in Devon.
The AA is sad to report that former AA student Desmond Henly has passed away.
Rupert Desmond Henly attended the Cheltenham School of Art and the North Gloucestershire Technical College part-time from 1939-1942. After being articled to Ranger & Rogers, Architects, he passed his Part I exams externally at the RIBA in May 1943. He joined Royal Engineers in 1942 and served through the duration of World War II. After war service he joined the AA in 1946 for the 4th and 5th years, receiving the AA Diploma in 1948. Henly attended the School of Planning & Research for Regional Development in Gordon Square for a year in 1948-49. In 1951 Henly went to the United States and worked in 1952-53 at the Sacramento Redevelopment Agency as a Planning Officer, a 1-year Town Planning Institute requirement. He then worked with Richard Neutra as a draughtsperson for two years and went on to work for Abe Geller in New York. Henly returned to the UK in 1955, when he then opened his own practice primarily designing domestic architecture. He retired to the south coast of England and later moved back to Cheltenham.
Mr Henly has been a strong supporter of the AA and its students, emphasizing the value of student work such as sketch books in the educational process. Mr Henly also kindly donated all his student work and material from the Planning School and more recently to the Photo Library, slides he took in the 1950s of the Eames House and other important projects.
A memorial was held on what what would have been his 93rd birthday, 25th November 2015 at the place of his birth, the Sudeley Castle Estate, Winchcombe.
Berrell Jensen died on the 25th of July 2015 at Mercy University Hospital, Cork, Ireland. Berrell was a South African-born metal sculptor, social worker and teacher. She graduated from the Architectural Association in 1984 with a GradDipl(AA) in Planning.
Born in Potchefstroom in 1933, Berrell graduated from Natal University in Durban with a BSc in Social Science. She had a number of jobs including librarian, laboratory assistant in a paint factory and public relations officer for Lever Brothers. While her husband, Anton Jensen was completing his Masters, she began making metal mobiles for sale. Known for her practical aptitude, perhaps inspired from childhood days spent at her father’s garage and repair shop, she studied welding and was soon creating large sculptures and panels created out of copper, bronze, silver and enamels. She organized her first exhibition in 1960 in Durban, Natal.
In the next eight years Berrell had nineteen exhibitions, seven of these as a solo artist. Her work was spotted by architects and she completed fourteen large-scale public commissions including fountains. Her mural in copper and bronze for the Jan Smuts International Airport V.I.P. lounge measured eighteen by four metres.
Berrell returned to Ireland in 1993, where she bought a 300-year-old Protestant church in Rochfortbridge, Co. Westmeath. She renovated the building, designating a large area as a metal studio. She began welding again, completing several commissions including for the Midland Health Board in Tullamore and the Tanyard Resource Centre in Offaly. The Dublin Corporation commissioned six metal screens, each 1.75 metres wide by 5.82 metres high for the entrance stairwells of the Marrowbone Lane Flats. This work she completed just prior to her first hip-replacement in 1996, at age 63.
She was a fervent environmentalist and in 2001 organised a County Westmeath environmental group objecting to a controversial planning application for a landfill site in the Killucan area. Her knowledge of local wild life, peat bog and wetlands helped prevent the dump proceeding.
Berrell settled in Co. Cork in 2003, where she put her boundless energy into gardening. She will be much missed for her humour, enthusiasm, determination, patience and loyalty. Berrell is survived by her daughter Sandra, a writer, her son Michael, an IT and communications consultant, and by her three grandchildren, Oliver, Hugh, and Lucia.
Dr. Ian MacBurnie BArch GradDipl(AA) PhD 1955-2015
The architect, urban planner and professor Dr Ian MacBurnie died last Sunday 13 September, aged 60 years old.
An AA Member for more than 25 years, MacBurnie was an associate professor in the Department of Architectural Science at Ryerson University, Toronto where he was instrumental in founding the gradute programme there.
Canadian publication The Globe and Mail published this obituary on 18 September.
Derek Brampton, who died suddenly at his home in Kent on 31st August, will be remembered widely as London's best architectural bookseller.
Soon after starting the Triangle Bookshop in Kennington, London, he and Alan Young were persuaded by Alvin Boyarsky, legendary chairman of the AA from 1971 to his death in 1990, to re-locate to the newly refurbished basement of 36 Bedford Square. The business flourished as part of Boyarsky's vision of an alternative and dynamic Architectural Association. To enter Triangle's doors and browse the books was an essential part of time spent at the AA, made more pleasurable by Derek's informed intelligence, wit and great sympathy for the seeker of knowledge and inspiration. Most of the great names in architecture of this period would linger to chat and exchange gossip with Derek.
The shop closed in 2008 upon Derek and Alan's retirement. However those who knew Derek will remember him more for his great love of the arts, his early training and work in the London theatre, and his deep passion for painting to which he devoted most of his spare time, both at the easel and in visiting museums and exhibitions, always open to adventure.
His warmth, knowledge and spirit will be very much missed. He is survived by his husband and business partner Alan Young whom he met in 1969 and married last year
The celebrated architect and former AA staff member Jonathan Woolf has died aged 54. In this obituary originally printed in Architects' Journal Jonathan Sergison remembers his colleague and friend, with a preface by former AA Councillor Brendan Woods.
'Jonathan Woolf who taught with Philippe Barthelemy at the AA in the 90’s has died at the age of 54. One of their unit's end of year show consisted entirely of models in birch ply sitting on a birch ply table that took up the entire centre of the room. They were one of the inspired pairings of Moshen Mostavi who enjoyed creating extraordinary teaching partnerships.' - BW
‘In the distinguished new English movement of “invisible architecture” Jonathan is the sharpest and most spirited one. He stands for what I understand as English sophistication.’
These words by Valerio Olgiati underline the importance and status Jonathan Woolf had for many architects in Europe. His death last weekend has robbed British architecture of a special talent and I am struggling to come to terms with what this means at many levels.
Jonathan was an original thinker who resisted conformity and easy categorisation. The projects and buildings he created are imbued with ideas and an artistry that cannot be replicated.
Above all, I feel the loss of a loyal, kind and generous friend I had the pleasure and good fortune of knowing for 25 years and with whom I shared journeys through life and architecture.
His approach to life involved limitless humour. What would seem commonplace, ordinary or trivial to many, could be retold by Jonathan in a way that was extremely funny, revealing the comic and sometimes farcical aspects of the human condition. Something of this outlook found its way into his architecture – but one would need to look carefully.
Jonathan was born in London in 1961 and grew up in Hampstead Garden Suburb. He undertook his formal architectural education at the Kingston School of Architecture, where he was taught by Brendan Woods, Werner Kreis and David Dunster, among others. In fact Woods was so impressed with his degree portfolio that he instigated a prize for the best student, with Jonathan being the first recipient.
After working for Munkenbeck + Marshall among others, Jonathan opened his own architectural studio in 1991. He enjoyed early success, winning the Smithfield Market competition in Dublin (with Jonathan McDowell and Renato Benedetti) and an Italian furniture design competition.
Of the numerous projects he realised, many addressed questions of domesticity and notions of dwelling. Three projects stand out: the Brick Leaf House, Hampstead, 2003; the Painted House, Golders Green, 2009; and The Lost Villa, Nairobi, Kenya, 2014.
The Brick Leaf house came to represent what was perceived by many in mainland Europe as a ‘London architecture’; the Painted House is a radical remodelling of the English semi-detached house; and The Lost Villa is a plastic and topographic investigation constructed from local stone and intentionally suggesting timelessness; a sense that the house is an inhabited ruin. For these three great projects alone and their contribution to the discipline of architecture we should be grateful.
In addition to his work in practice, Jonathan was a gifted and inspirational teacher. Between 1995 and 1998 he taught at the Architectural Association with Philippe Barthélémy. In 2003 he was made professor of the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, a position he held until 2007. Between 2007 and 2009 he was a guest professor at the Accademia di Mendrisio in Switzerland. More recently he taught at his former school in Kingston, which only a few weeks ago recognised his outstanding career as an educator and architect by awarding him an honorary doctorate.
Jonathan is survived by his wife Siobhan, two young daughters Olivia and Natalie, parents Ben and Josephine, sister Deborah, and by the many friends that have been touched by his exceptional personality."
Image: Brick Leaf House by Jonathan Woolf ArchitectsSource: Image by Helene Binet
The AA is saddened to hear of the death of architect Pilar Gonzalez Herraiz who passed away on 10 April 2015.
Pilar who graduated from the AA with a diploma in 1984, had a successful career as the co-director of Malaysia & Spain based practise Architron Design, which she set up with husband and fellow AA graduate Frank Lee-Huat Ling in 1994. A global lecturer, writer and academic, Gonzalez-Herraiz was an AA Member since 1996.