Michael Dickson (1944–2018)

It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of Michael Dickson CBE, a founding partner of BuroHappold Engineering and influential figure in the development of the AA’s woodland campus at Hooke Park.

Following studies in Engineering at Cambridge and Cornell Universities, Michael joined Ove Arup in 1968, before leaving in 1976 as part of pioneering group of young engineers to form a new practice with Ted Happold: BuroHappold.

Following Ted Happold’s untimely death in 1996, Michael became chairman, leading the organisation for almost a decade as it grew into a global business.

BuroHappold described Michael as ‘unwavering in his commitment to building responsibly and touching the earth lightly. His construction philosophy – inspired by Frei Otto, a long-standing colleague – was that the most efficient use of the right materials is at the core of sustainability.’

Some of Michael’s remarkable engineering projects include the Savill Building Visitor Centre, Windsor (with Glenn Howells), The Queen’s Building at Emmanuel College, Cambridge (with Hopkins Architects), and Hooke Park’s timber-arched workshop, constructed using green timber thinnings cut straight from the woods.

Hooke Park Director Martin Self said: ‘Michael was a passionate supporter of the AA’s work at Hooke Park. As a member of the Hooke Park Advisory Group, he was instrumental in the formulation of the 2008 Strategic Plan and subsequently in guiding the development of the campus, providing exceptional generosity and depth of knowledge in his support to students and staff.

‘Through his pioneering engineering work with BuroHappold at Hooke Park in the 1980s, working with Frei Otto and Ahrends Burton & Koralek, Michael had established the technical possibilities of using low-value local timber in advanced construction, and advocated the continuation of this approach as the AA’s Design + Make programme re-started building work at the campus.

‘In retirement, his passion for wood continued through writing, including the publication of Sustainable Timber Design in 2015, and evidenced by his frequent visits to Bedford Square and Hooke Park – traveling from the Hebridean Islands where he and wife Effie, a landscape artist, would spend much of the year.

‘His warm-hearted, generous and incisive support to the Hooke Park project will be greatly missed by the AA.’

Read more about Michael’s life and legacy at www.burohappold.com/news/memoriam-michael-dickson/.


Hugo Hinsley (1950–2018)

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It is with great regret and deep sadness that we announce the death of our dear colleague and treasured friend Hugo Hinsley. With an AA career lasting 45 years, Hugo truly was at the heart and soul of all that we hold dear as a School Community. 

Hugo's funeral will take place at the Golders Green Crematorium, 62 Hoop Land, London NW11 7NL on Friday 1st June at 2pm.   This will be followed by a celebration of his life at the Architectural Association, 36 Bedford Square, London WC1B 3ES from 5pm. You are very welcome to join.

No flowers, please; instead a donation to Marie Curie would be greatly appreciated. Their care for Hugo in the last days of his life was wonderful and we are very grateful.  https://www.justgiving.com/HugoHinsley

The following obituary was prepared by the Housing and Urbanism Programme in collaboration with family, colleagues and friends.

Hugo Hinsley helped to shape architectural education at the AA and abroad for over 40 years. Always keen to broaden the scope of architectural discussion and learning, and to ask how architects might work in fresh ways to better envision and serve their purposes, he was nevertheless equally keen to ground the field in the palpable needs of urban communities. He was an indefatigable urban explorer, always curious how the city had been made, and his walks with students were famous for answering this question with equal balance given to politics, construction, and the cultural habits of residents, each of which may have lent something to the genesis of the place. But this was never to be confused with the narrow focus of the local historian. Instead, Hugo was a passionate internationalist, and his understanding of what was “taking place” in cities was informed by a rich conversation with architects and activists from around the world and a thirst for information regarding global political and urban transformations. He always saw the big picture in the detail.

Hugo was born in Cambridge in 1950, and his account of his upbringing in his academic parents’ home was one in which there was a regular rotation of visiting scholars and academics, infusing the domestic scene with discussions of science, culture, and the politics of international affairs. Not surprisingly, when Hugo studied architecture at Cambridge between 1968 and 1972, he found the curriculum somewhat too narrow and lacking attention to the key challenges of the period. He persuaded his director of studies to allow him to write his own brief for his final year, focusing on the failures of housing policy, the rise of squatting, and emerging housing initiatives.

After completing his degree, Hugo moved to London where he became involved with teaching at the AA. He was recruited in 1974 by John Turner, along with Tom Woolley and Hans Harms, to run a new programme on housing and community architecture. While housing was at the heart of urban social concerns at the time, Turner had been instrumental in reframing the topic in a way that highlighted the social process underpinning it. This theme was extended by Hugo and his colleagues in the new AA programme, emphasising the broadest range of community facilities that support residential life, and they initiated a Community Seminar that attracted broad participation from architects, planners, and community activists around London. Hugo was always proud of the tradition of the AA that enabled architectural education to be engaged beyond simply serving professional practice, and he was an enthusiastic defender of this tradition. When he later ran the 5th Year programme in Professional Practice at the AA, he brought in an inspiring range of practitioners who had turned their architectural education into novel forms of engagement in the wider urban world. Innovatively, Hugo partnered students with these leaders to better understand their work through direct experience, rather than simply replicating the usual lecture format. Hugo always sought to enable students to learn through direct experience of engagement with a problem that demanded an openness and integrity of thought.

The Community Seminar that Hugo began with Tom Woolley in 1974 led to the formation in 1976 of a loose collective of professional practitioners called Support, which focused largely on community architecture. The Winchester Project in Swiss Cottage and Kingsley Hall in Bow are just two of the many projects on which they worked, and which today still stand as exemplary community service institutions. Hugo also worked on the Coin Street project in London’s South Bank area, supporting its alternative approach toward inclusive, socially progressive redevelopment of central city sites. The combination of direct involvement in community architecture and the establishment of an academic platform for reflection on urban issues turned the Housing programme in the AA Graduate School into a scene of international debate, drawing in not only graduate but diploma students, as well, along with visiting scholars and activists from abroad.

Through these seminars, Hugo met Col James, who in 1982, invited Hugo to spend part of the year on the faculty of the University of Sydney. Here, Hugo met a number of like-minded scholars, architects, and housing activists who shared his interest in social justice through housing, and he became closely involved in the housing rights of aboriginal communities in Australia’s central cities. The contacts Hugo made there fuelled his international perspective on this global issue, and this was a perspective that continued to inspire what had now become the Housing and Urbanism Programme in the AA Graduate School, which Hugo co-directed with Jorge Fiori. A central plank of the Programme over the years has been the direct engagement with city governments, their local communities and local universities, through a short, intensive workshop as part of each year’s educational calendar. In the mid-1990s, Hugo was also asked to revive and run what was called the Visiting Teachers Programme at the AA – a one-month seminar bringing teachers from around the world to learn about the school’s ethos and practice, to share experiences, and discuss educational schemes. Hugo was keen to reject narrow manifestos of architectural theory or practice. Instead, he was always interested to diversify understandings, to innovate, and to support the widest gene pool of architectural work.

Hugo was a man of great generosity toward his friends and colleagues. He always preferred to support and encourage rather than take the limelight. He was more interested in being part of successful collective endeavour than in personal recognition, and absolutely detested the syndrome that had given rise to the culture of star architecture. And yet, Hugo was also a man of great concentration, talent, and personal commitment to his work and his hobbies. He had a deep knowledge of construction techniques, both historical and contemporary, urban policies, housing schemes, and much more that defined our field of architectural urbanism. He possessed a similarly cultivated knowledge of ceramics and had pursued pottery as a hobby. In his younger years he owned and maintained a collection of classic motorcycles. One sees a pattern here: he was always most interested in those things in which one may be fully engaged, mind and body, and so always seemed to have the richest possible insights to share with his students and friends. We will always miss this man who enlivened our seminars and classrooms, our city walks, our H&U barbeques, our discussions at the AA bar, and much, much more.


Will Alsop OBE RA AADipl (1947–2018)

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It is with the greatest sadness that we learn of the death Will Alsop, one of the AA’s most notable alumni and former tutors, and winner of the 2000 Stirling prize, who has passed away aged 70.

Will Alsop graduated from the AA in 1973 before going on to teach from 1975 to 1989 with David Greene, John Lyall and artist Bruce McLean, among others.

He worked briefly for Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, before joining Cedric Price for four years and then later setting up practice with his contemporary John Lyall in 1981, who remembers Will as ‘exceptionally talented and always having a unique view of architecture’.

Will met his wife Sheila at the AA when she was AA General Studies Coordinator and they married in 1972. Among his former students at the AA are Amanda Levete, Steve Christer of Studio Granda, and current AA Interim Director Samantha Hardingham.

Appointed OBE in 1999, the following year would prove to be momentous for Will as he established Alsop Architects, was elected to the Royal Academy, and won the Stirling prize for Peckham Library, a building that redefined what libraries could be in the 21st-century.

Image: Will Alsop at the AA in the 1970s, © AA Photo Library


Tom Ryland (1947–2018)

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It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of alumnus Tom Ryland AADipl RIBA, who died peacefully on 9 March 2018.

He is remembered here by fellow former AA student Jonathan Ball who reflects on their time spent studying in London in the 1960s: Tom Ryland – Those were the days my friend

A service of thanksgiving will be held on 21 April at 12.00 at St Peter’s Church, W6 9BE. Donations in Tom’s memory may be made to The Blood Fund, which supports the Haematology Department at Hammersmith Hospital: www.imperialcharity.org.uk/the-blood-fund.


Michael Thomas Cartledge AADipl (1925–2016)

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Michael Thomas Cartledge, who studied at the AA from 1947–1952, died peacefully on 23 December 2016.

Michael worked in both public and private practices and specifically in designing schools whilst working in the Architectural Department for Bromley Council, London.

After early retirement in 1981 he pursued his great interest in ceramics, both in sculpture and pottery.  He completed a ceramics course (1985–1986) at Goldsmiths College of Art, London, and was an active member of the Kent Potters Association, where he regularly exhibited his work.


Ivor Smith (1926–2018)

The AA is saddened to hear of the passing of alumnus and architect Ivor Smith (AADipl 1951) who has died at the age of 92.

Ivor Smith was born in 1926 in Essex and later evacuated to Derbyshire towards the start of the Second World War as a teenager. He went on to work on a farm in the early forties, before heading to London to study at the Bartlett, and later at the Architectural Association where he completed the AA Diploma in 1951.

After graduating from the AA, Smith joined the city architects’ office in Sheffield in 1953 where he and the late Jack Lynn designed and oversaw the building of Park Hill, the iconic housing scheme for which he is most well-known.

Leaving Sheffield, he went on to found Ivor Smith Architects in Oxfordshire in the 1960s and launched a teaching career.

Ivor Smith is survived by his wife Audrey, four children, eight grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.

Read more at https://www.architectsjournal.co.uk/ivorsmith

From the AA Archive: watch a panel discussion between Martin Richardson, David Levitt, Piers Gough, and David Turnbull, moderated by Mohsen Mostafavi entitled Park Hill and the Future of Public Housing


David Bernstein (1937–2018)

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It is with great sorrow that we learn of the passing of former AA tutor David Bernstein who has died aged 80 following a short battle with cancer.

David Bernstein was born in New York in 1937. He first read architecture at the University of Cincinnati, before studying under Louis Kahn at the University of Pennsylvania.

In 1964 he moved to London with his wife Beverly, initially intending only to stay for a year. In reality, they never returned to the US, together making a significant contribution to architectural education and social housing in the UK. They first worked at the AA, Beverly as a senior registrar and David teaching.

Alongside his teaching role, David worked under William Whitfield and then Patrick Hodgkinson, where he met David Levitt whilst designing the iconic Brunswick Centre. In 1968 the two Davids established architectural practice, Levitt Bernstein, and Housing Association, Circle 33. The pair led both organisations until 1974, when they left Circle 33 and dedicated all of their time to Levitt Bernstein. Here, David Bernstein led a huge range of projects, from the refurbishment of the ICA to a great many social housing projects across the capital for the likes of Peabody Trust, Metropolitan Housing Trust and Tower Hamlets Housing Action Trust. He was also keenly involved in all aspects of running the practice, later taking the role of Managing Director. He was always modest and created a culture within the Practice that put people first – both staff and the users of the spaces designed.

Some of Bernstein’s most significant projects include the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester (1976) – a futuristic seven-sided theatre in the round; Hart Hill Lane (1977) – a development of flats for the elderly and ten family homes in Luton; and the Gateway Centre in Southwark (1993) – a scheme of 58 flats for young people, 32 ‘move-on’ flats and a job/training centre.

The Levitt Bernstein’s website remembers him as: ‘Kind, light-hearted and full of integrity, David remained a father figure for many of us long after his retirement and we will miss him dearly. The culture and ethos we all cherish here today is thanks so much to his wonderful, open and compassionate sensibility.’

Since 2012 David worked closely with the AA to establish and to award annually a prize in memory of his wife Beverly, with generous support of many friends and family. The Beverly Bernstein Prize is run by the AA’s postgraduate programme in Housing and Urbanism, in recognition of Beverly’s involvement with the school and of her life-long interest and specialisation in housing and development planning.

A week before his death he published a book of his short stories titled Growing Pains and Senior Moments.

Image courtesy Levitt Bernstein


David Shalev OBE (1934–2018)

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It is with great sadness that the AA has learnt of the passing of architect and former AA tutor David Shalev OBE, who has died at the age of 83. He is remembered here by Su Rogers.

David Shalev was totally dedicated to architecture. He taught it, and with his partner Eldred Evans he practised it and lived it. We taught Intermediate 2 at the AA together from 1974–76, but we were first introduced through my friendship with Eldred, who I met a decade earlier while a graduate student at Yale in the 1960s. Eldred, Richard [Rogers], Norman Foster and myself were the only English students there, having received scholarships. Our friend Jim Stirling was also teaching at Yale, and we would all spend weekends together in New York. Eldred was fantastic at Yale. She was the outrageous English girl.

Back in London I had a different kind of friendship with David. He was a rigorous man. You first have to know that the AA’s chairman Alvin Boyarsky was very good at unit ‘marriages’. I started teaching at the AA in 1971 when I needed some extra money. Alvin set me up with Elia Zenghelis and then with Rick Mather. When Rick became too busy to teach, Alvin asked if I would teach with David. Working together wasn’t our choice, but it ended up being an incredibly successful partnership.

Our unit was different to a lot of what was then happening at the AA. On the one hand you had Mark Fisher, whose projects dealt with entertainment and inflatables, David Greene, who was a member of Archigram, and other units dealing with lightweight structures. On the other hand, you had few units that were actually teaching how to design a building. David and I were interested in doing just that. So if there were students – like David Chipperfield, Alex Lifschutz, the late Michael Baumgarten and Kathryn Findlay – who wanted to understand how to design a building, it was easy to attract the good ones. We had 50 students applying for about 20 places, so we could pick who we wanted.

To make a good unit you had to have good briefs, you had to have a good programme, and you had to know what you wanted out of that programme – because students are pretty naïve at that stage in their lives, and they need to be helped along the way. You also had to accept that the only way to get good work out of students was to be disciplined enough as a tutor. And so David and I spent a lot of our summer holidays researching what we wanted to teach. In our first year of teaching together we chose to concentrate on educational buildings, where the briefs became more complicated as the year progressed, which allowed students to learn from and develop a set of rules. The idea of the school – especially the school without walls – was fashionable, and so we began with a brief for a nursery, which progressed into a brief for a primary school and culminated in an ever-more complex secondary school.

It was challenging, but it created a continuous learning curve. This applied to not only the students, but also to us as tutors, and especially to me. I learned a lot from David. He was fantastic with the students. As David Chipperfield has said he always had a pencil in his hand, and he had such a straight way of teaching. When he spoke in tutorials or crits it was clear that he was simply interested in the students’ ability to learn through the plan and the section. He wanted to know if they understood whether the elements that make up a building were working – whether the structure was working, the plan was working, the section, the elevation. This clarity was expressed through his and Eldred’s own architectural projects.

I wasn’t aware of it then, but what we ended up doing was practising a kind of discipline. Mark Fisher would affably joke about the focus of our unit. He would say to his students, ‘Let’s go see what Mrs Clean is up to.’ It’s true that we weren’t partaking in certain aspects of ‘flower power’. (We were, however, great at unit trips – we went to Paris, Barcelona, took tours of English architecture, hosted summer picnics and visited schools all around the UK, from the eco-friendly Constantine Primary School in Cornwall to Prior Western, a state primary school at the Barbican known for its open-wall design.) But there were other kinds of implicit ‘straightness’ to the unit, in that we taught both the value of looking at buildings and the value of architectural history. We also recognised that we had some bright students, and we minded what they were going to do professionally.

David was full of integrity. He would never do something for his own benefit, or something he didn’t believe in. Of course Eldred is all of those things too, and so they made an incredibly good pair. David was a warm and generous person, a brilliant tutor and his criticism was always constructive. He wanted students to understand the process of design, and it was because of his leadership that we had such talented people joining the unit. His legacy will remain through the work of those students.

– Su Rogers

Image: AA Photo Library


Philip Eyton-Jones (19402017)

The AA is saddened to hear of the passing of alumnus and Life Member Philip Eyton-Jones, who has died at the age of 77.

Read more about Philip's life and work in the obituary published by the North Wales Daily Post.


Neave Brown (19292018)

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The AA remembers alumnus and RIBA Royal Gold Medal winner Neave Brown, architect of three of the most pioneering housing schemes of postwar British architecture.

The following was written in 2013 by architectural historian Mark Swenarton as an introduction to his conversation with Brown. It has been republished here in its original form as a tribute.

To the greater majority of architects and scholars Neave Brown is known as the man responsible for Alexandra Road (1968–69), a masterwork of postwar British architecture and one of only a small number of English housing projects to command worldwide attention. Yet Brown’s story is a good deal more complex than this might suggest. To start with, he is only half-British – his mother was American, he was born in the United States and schooled equally in the US and the UK. In formation as much as outlook, therefore, Brown is transatlantic – although by no means in the Churchillian sense that this might imply.

Secondly, while famed as a practitioner, Brown has had a parallel career as an academic. The most complex part of Alexandra Road was designed while he was at Princeton. Through his teaching he also made links – personal and intellectual – in unexpected quarters: at one end of his career Colin Rowe asked him to come to Cornell, at the other Jo Coenen invited him to take over his own professorship at Karlsruhe. Here, then, was a rich mixture of ideas and inspirations.

Thirdly, Brown has an unusually broad view of the role of the architect. As a schoolboy he was passionate about modern art and his initial desire was to go to art school; but he then decided to read English at Oxford. Only while doing his National Service did he settle on architecture at the AA. As Brown matured, these broader interests remained: designer of buildings, of course, but also artist and public intellectual, a person informed about the issues of the day.

Finally there is the complexity of Brown’s attitude to Le Corbusier and the legacy of modernism. Like many of his contemporaries Brown believed in modernism but also in Englishness. Specifically he loved Corb but hated his ideas about cities. From that dynamic sprang the inventiveness of his own proposals for housing and cities: proposals that were mainly made in Britain, but were also the product of much more besides.

Read Neave Brown’s complete conversation about his life and workpublished in AA Files 67 and watch his 2013 conversation with Mark Swenarton at the AA.

Image: Neave Brown, photographed in the garden of Winscombe Street, c 1995 


Gavin Stamp (1948–2017)

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The AA remembers the passionate and prolific architectural writer and historian Gavin Stamp, pictured (right) with Leon Krier in 1992. 

Read his essay ‘Anti-Ugly Action’, published in AA Files 70.

Gavin’s Funeral will be held at St Giles Church, Camberwell at 11.00am on Thursday 25 January, followed by a Service of Interment at Camberwell Old Cemetery, Forest Hill Road, SE22.

Photo Valerie Bennett © AA Photo Library


David Marks MBE (1952–2017)

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It is with the greatest sadness that we learn of the death of David Marks (AADipl 1978), an architect, innovator and entrepreneur whose life’s work was inspired by the belief that good design has the power to improve the quality of people’s lives.

Whilst studying at the AA he met Julia Barfield, his wife and practice partner. Together they designed iconic landmarks and transformed skylines, first in London with the London Eye and Treetop Walkway at Kew, and last year with the completion of Brighton’s British Airways i360, the world’s tallest moving observation tower.

We extend our deepest condolences to Julia and their three children.

A full obituary can be read online at www.marksbarfield.com.

Image: Gary Eastwood


Paul Hereford Oliver MBE (19272017)

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It is with the greatest sadness that the AA has learnt of the death of Paul Oliver MBE, who has passed away at the age of 90.

Paul Oliver was an architectural historian and world renowned expert on blues music who wrote some of the most authoritative histories of the genre. Paul’s time at the AA is recorded here by Patrick Wakely (AADipl 1963), who worked alongside him:

Paul Oliver was appointed to the staff of the AA in 1960, initially to teach drawing, principally to first year students, in succession to Bernard Myers. However, his role rapidly expanded to the teaching of the history and theory of the modern movement in architecture, eventually assuming responsibility for all ‘History of Architecture’ teaching at the AA.

He consistently set the different periods and ‘styles’ of architecture in the social and cultural context in which they were initiated and developed – an approach that differed from the more traditional  classification of historical periods based on structural and building technology, and the aesthetic expressions that developed from them.

Paul organised and ran irregular events on specific themes of the history and theory of architecture that ranged from half-day seminars to two- or three-day workshops for which he engaged many different characters and personalities, among them Kenneth Frampton, Joseph Rykwert, Peter Rayner Banham, Arthur Korn, Robert Maxwell and Dennis Sharp. These events attracted much interest outside the school and were frequently attended on an ad hoc basis by practicing architects, academics and writers from different parts of the world.

To formalise this, in 1971, Paul launched the AA Graduate School, in part modelled on the AA Department of Tropical Studies that ran six-month Certificate courses for professionals and selected final-year students. He continued to develop his study of traditional indigenous building – vernacular architecture – that supplemented and complemented his teaching on history and theory.

At the same time, Paul continued to develop his appreciation and understanding of the blues and Afro-American musicians, which had preoccupied him since before he joined the AA staff. He would host jazz and blues evenings at the school, selecting favourites from a vast collection of 12" 74 rpm records. These gatherings were invariably prefaced with a consistently erudite and interesting lecture on the music and the musicians, illustrated by two-screen simultaneous slides of the characters and events. The rest of such an evening was devoted to the music itself.

In 1964, John Lloyd, with whom Paul had worked in the First Year at the AA and who had subsequently been seconded as Dean of the Faculty of Architecture in Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), in Kumasi, Ghana, under an agreement of collaboration and mutual support with the AA, invited him as a visiting lecturer for nine months to teach in the Faculty. Paul, working with his Ghanaian students, used this experience to develop his knowledge and understanding of traditional vernacular architecture in different regions of Ghana, ultimately leading to his edited books ‘Shelter and Society’ (1969) and ‘Shelter in Africa’ (1971).

In 1973 he left the AA and was appointed Head of the Department of Art and Design at Dartington College of Arts near Totnes, Devon, from where he moved to the Department of Architecture at Oxford Polytechnic (later Oxford Brookes University).

Meanwhile, the AA Graduate School continued to flourish and grow, so that by 2017, the year of Paul Oliver’s death, it conducted a programme of 11 distinct Masters Degree courses and a comprehensive PhD Programme.

Paul Hereford Oliver, historian of architecture and the blues, born 25 May 1927; died 15 August 2017.

Read more about Paul’s life and work at https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/aug/31/paul-oliver-obituary.

The presentation of images shown at Paul Oliver's memorial on Saturday 26 May 2018 can be viewed here

Image: Philip Opher


Michael Lloyd (19272017)

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It is with great sadness that the AA has learnt of the death of former AA Principal Professor Michael Lloyd (AADipl 1953). The following obituary, written by Svein Erik Svendsen, Hans Skotte and Patrick Wakely is translated from Norwegian by Desmond McNeill:

Architect and multifarious professor Michael Lloyd was buried in Oslo on 16 June 2017.

With him we have lost one of the foremost architecture educators of our time; not just in Norway – his work and influence were global. He was born in England in 1927 and studied at the Architectural Association (AA) in London. Whilst still a student he took part in the post-war reconstruction of Finnmark, Norway, and after graduating, Alvar Aalto arranged work for him in Helsinki. He then practiced in Oslo and taught at the School of Art & Craft where he met Catharine, who became his wife and lifelong companion.

In 1959 he was appointed first year master at the AA, in charge of all new students to the school. In 1962 Kwami Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, approached the AA for assistance in re-organising and running its faculty of architecture that had been established in 1951, but had become moribund. The AA responded to this and gave the job to Michael Lloyd, who was appointed professor and dean of the faculty in 1963. He immediately appointed several new full-time members of teaching staff, several of whom were drawn from the AA Department of Development and Tropical Studies – later to become the Development Planning Unit (DPU) at University College London, and radically reorganised the curriculum and teaching style of the faculty. Over the following five years, Michael brought a number of interesting short-term visiting professors to the faculty, including Buckminster Fuller, Jane Drew, Keith Critchlow, Paul Oliver and Joseph Rykwert. The faculty gained an internationally acclaimed reputation for its innovation and educational and architectural excellence.

In 1966 he was appointed principal of the AA School of Architecture, where he also initiated new and challenging educational and administrative reforms. These were turbulent times for higher education in the United Kingdom and he left the AA after a few years. He then restored the School of Architecture in Kingston-upon-Hull and joined the DPU where he directed a Master’s degree programme in design teaching methods, as part of which he was instrumental in reforming the faculty of architecture at the University of Costa Rica in San José.

On leaving the DPU in the early 1980s, he assisted local efforts in establishing new schools of architecture in Bergen, Norway, where he remained a professor for several years and in Reykjavik, Iceland. Thereafter he was appointed professor at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design, where he, among other things, conducted a project at Makerere University in Uganda, which eventually encompassed the whole of East Africa.

As a teacher, and as the sympathetic man that he was, his work was based on the idea of "the responsible human being" that one learns through taking responsibility for one’s own professional development, and that one's skills are a personal social responsibility. As an educator Michael was unorthodox, inspiring and very much present as a teacher. He was inquisitive, courageous, and knowledgeable and had highly respected friends all over the world. His international position remains outstanding. To become principal of the AA School of Architecture, which many regard as the world's best school of architecture, one must possess very special qualifications. Michael had those. As was said during his funeral, "Michael was a truly good man".

Image: Michael Lloyd at his home in Spain in November 2016, by Mónica Pacheco, Dip. Arch., MA, Ph.D., Department of Architecture and Urbanism, University Institute of Lisbon


Julian Sofaer (19242017)

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It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Julian Sofaer, “a highly principled modernist”, who contributed to the reconstruction of post-war London.

Julian Sofaer belongs to the generation of architects who began their career in London at the end of World War II.

A great lover of art and the Italian Renaissance, Sofaer was a designer obsessed with form and harmony.  He disliked Le Corbusier’s use of concrete in the fabric of buildings, maintaining that it had been imposed arbitrarily on the English scene. Brutalism, no matter how pure, was alien to him; and to Sofaer technical tour-de-force, no matter how brilliant, was not enough. He delighted in the work of Alvar Aalto whose buildings, he thought, stemmed from essentially humanist thinking and were beautiful and life-enhancing. But he was a very independent-minded person who refused adopted formulas and never joined fashionable movements in architecture or elsewhere.

Highly musical, he liked to say that “a building is like a musical instrument. It must be played by a musical person.” His friend, the art historian Ernst Gombrich, also passionately musical, helped him to articulate the links between music and architecture through an exploration of classical proportion that led to the ‘Golden Section’, which he compared to ‘a harmonic chord’.

Sofaer worked very much on his own, never employing more than five assistants and was never tempted to expand his office to take on work for which he could not personally be in charge.

Sofaer was born in 1924 into Baghdad’s ancient, and at that time influential, Jewish community. His maternal grandfather was a member of parliament, who represented Iraq at the League of Nations when it gained independence. Following the failure of the German-inspired revolt against British rule in 1941, Arabs and local Bedouin tribes launched a vicious pogrom against the Jewish community, then perceived to be pro-British, and murdered many of them. Sofaer and his sister narrowly escaped death. With their home and belongings lost, their widowed mother fled with them to India (her older son was studying medicine in London).  Life in India, though not easy, was at least free from the fear of persecution and violent death.

In Bombay, Sofaer first attended a Jesuit school and then entered the Architecture Department of the School of Art. His ambition was to become a violinist and so he continued to study music alongside his architecture course.

In 1945 he successfully applied for admission to the Architectural Association. Sofaer admired England since the day when as a young boy walking down the street with his mother, a British soldier bumped into her and said “I beg your pardon, madam”, a courtesy that struck him as unusual and highly civilized.  At that moment, he decided that he would one day come to London.

In London his expectations were met musically and culturally. At the Albert Hall, he could attend concerts by the greatest violinists of the time: Heifetz, Huberman, Menuhin, Ida Haendel. Music, he said, put him “in touch with upper spheres where life was beautiful’ and was an escape from post-war London with its gloom, its ruins and its rationing.

After receiving his AA Diploma in 1948, Sofaer worked from 1949 to 1955 with Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall, a prominent architectural firm then preparing for the 1951 Festival of Britain. He became the assistant in charge of designing the Susan Lawrence School at Lansbury: its clever planning, decorative details and use of natural light made it an exemplar of post-war schools and it is now a Grade II listed building.  The Dick Sheppard School and other projects followed, but Sofaer never found it easy to work in a large firm, so in 1955 left YRM to establish his own practice. Six years of struggle followed before his qualities were recognised and significant commissions started coming in. Many came from the London County Council and the Greater London Council, for whom he built more than sixty schools and colleges as well as over a thousand flats and community facilities. For other clients he built homes for the aged, private houses, and office buildings. His synagogue and old peoples’ home in Wembley were opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1977.

The extension of the West London Synagogue in Seymour Place, with Youth Centre and Library (1961), with its perfect balance of light and void and its attention to detail won a Civic Trust Award for the “contribution it makes to the appearance of the local scene”. The architect Alan Higgs praised its design for its “rationality, simplicity, honesty and clarity” and described Sofaer as “a highly principled modernist”.

In 1965 Sofaer was commissioned to design the Hugh Myddelton Primary School in Islington. That school exemplified Sofaer’s search for harmony in proportion, space and light at a time when schools were still being built of prefabricated components or to a ‘rationalised’ programme that divest them of personality. The school was singled out by Nikolaus Pevsner as “the most interesting…departure from standard types” and Roger Thompson wrote in the Architectural Journal that “Sofaer’s obsessive concern with form and harmony is more conducive of felicity than the tenets of the new brutalism”.

Sofaer’s ‘Meridian West’, a private house on a sloping hillside in Greenwich (1963), was designated a Grade II listed building in 2007.

On 14 November 2013, in the Quadriga Gallery in Wellington Arch, English Heritage celebrated 24 architects who had contributed to the rebuilding of post-war London and had their work listed. Julian Sofaer was proud to have been included as one of them.

Sofaer was a close friend and supporter of the Austrian painter Gerhart Frankl, who fled the Nazis in1938. On his death, in 1965, his widow appointed him trustee of her husband’s paintings, with the freedom to use them as he wished to promote Frankl. Sofaer compiled the Oeuvre Catalogue and, for over 30 years, arranged more than 30 exhibitions at the Hayward Gallery and the Fitzwilliam, as well as in Austria, Italy and Germany.

Ultimately though, Julian Sofaer’s greatest pride and source of joy was his family.

He was always grateful to the town he had made his home and to the country that, in his words, “had saved the world”.

Julian Sofaer, Architect, was born on 10 August 1924 and died on 30 May 2017.

He is survived by his wife, Ada, his daughter, Neema, her husband and their three children.

Image courtesy of the Sofaer family.





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