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.


Susan Francis (19522017)

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It is with great sorrow that we announce the passing of Susan Francis (AADipl 1976).  Here she is remembered by Lynne Walker:

Susan died peacefully on Saturday, 29th April 2017 after a long illness. A product of the AA in the 70s and a strong-minded feminist architect, she was a stalwart of AA XX 100, the current project to commemorate the centenary of women’s admission to the School, and she attended meetings and made an enormous contribution even though she often had to take time out for surgery and recovery. She planned the first AA XX 100 Lecture Series, contributed to the AAXX100/Collections lectures and was on the programme for the conference as a keynote speaker.  

In her student years, the AA to her represented an education outside the confines of traditional architectural training, and she flourished in the atmosphere at the School which encouraged a questioning, open attitude to architecture and the role of the architect. After the AA, she developed her interest in the wider context of architecture and the built environment, doing an MA in Cultural History at the Royal College of Art.

Drawing together the strands of theory and practice, Susan Francis became a founding member of Matrix, the architectural co-operative which worked ‘to develop a feminist approach to design through practical projects and theoretical analysis’. With other women at Matrix, she worked on the Dalston Children’s Centre and played a key role in writing the Matrix ‘manifesto’, Making Space: Women and the Man-Made Environment (1984). Her radical critique of the home and the lay-out of domestic space--that ‘accommodates an introverted family lifestyle, in which household duties are confined to a small space set deep within the plan’--was further challenged by her own family house in Islington, in which she countered the reductive treatment of house design, rethinking social and communal relationships and directing the experience of living together to the ‘world immediately outside’ the isolated nuclear family.

After Matrix and a period as Course Leader of Women Into Architecture and Building at North London Polytechnic (now London Met), Susan Francis moved into healthcare with a strong commitment to high quality design, cutting edge research and good practice as Architectural Lead for the Future Health Network at the NHS Confederation (2001-06); Special Advisor for Health at CABE (2006-11) and founder member of Architects for Health, its Programme Director (2011-present).

Her mantra about work was that the social was equally important to the professional. For all who knew her and worked with her, she will be greatly missed both personally and professionally. She is survived by her three sons.


Penelope Whiting (19182017)

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The AA is saddened to learn of the death of Penelope Whiting (AADipl 1942, ARIBA) who passed away on 28 February 2017.  Here she is remembered by her niece, Nicolette Baines RIBA.

Penelope Whiting died on the last day of February 2017 at the age of 99, still splendidly decisive and characterful until the very last few days.

Penelope qualified during the war, while driving ambulances and volunteering for fire-watch duties in the evenings. She was modest about these challenges, but gave lucid clues about the difficulties of emergency driving in the blitz with headlights masked except for a central round opening an inch in diameter. She was one of a very small number of women architects at a time when there could still be some active discouragement of women taking up professional work. 

Nevertheless, Penelope joined the innovative practice of Yorke, Rosenberg and Mardall (YRM), working with FRS ‘K’ Yorke (an influential member of the MARS group) initially on new housing.  On behalf of the Ministry of Works she designed prefabricated housing to meet the immediate housing shortage; many of these homes lasted long after the end of their design life, and a few are still in use today.

The practice was deeply involved in the post-war New Town developments; Penelope designed the Mark Hall and Ladyshott estates at Harlow.  She would talk about the effects of uprooting people from their existing communities to the New Towns, and identified with young mothers not able to pop next door and ask their mother’s advice. But in those days there was a real and widespread belief that we could build good housing that would genuinely make people’s lives better; and, with her books and conversation, she was part of the culture which inspired a new generation to take up the challenge. It was a world away from the apparent paralysis and changed priorities which affect the housing problem today.

There was fun as well as serious effort in the work; K Yorke had many contacts and friends among the artists of the time, and YRM were able to commission Henry Moore to create his ‘Family Group’ for Stevenage New Town. When it came to the very exciting project of a new airport at Gatwick, Penelope was the architect who designed the passenger bridge linking the existing station to the new airport building. She was part of the discussion on the curtain walling, for which Peggy Angus made marbled clear glass in images like reflected clouds.

In 1953 Penelope began a further initiative in writing books on architecture, at first with Yorke who had already published several books. Together these publications, published by the Architectural Press, form a key part of the architectural literature on houses of this important post-war period. In 1953 they jointly published ‘The New Small House’ - a ‘picture book to be browsed through’ in Yorke’s words – which as a result reached a wide public. However, as in the other books which followed, it was much more than that with plans, costs, and heating solutions as well as discussions on materials shortages and space standards. Penelope later gave further emphasis to the client’s relationship with the architect.

There was further collaboration on the Editorship of ‘Specification’, then a technical bible in architectural practice. Penelope wrote the Floor Finishes section and her engineer husband, Trevor Hawkes, contributed a section on Contractors’ Equipment. Later editions of Specification were co-edited with Dex Harrison. She also wrote a technical book on Floor Finishes.

After Yorke’s death in 1962 Penelope left YRM and set up her own practice in West London, working principally on developing Southlands Training College in Wimbledon.  The complex has mainly been modified into flats after the teacher training college became part of Roehampton University, but at the time Penelope and her assistants Peter Leitner and Alan Gibbs created a fine library, blocks of teaching rooms of a very civilised and welcoming ambience, and a staff house complete with its own bridge which was a delight to see.  She used to say that site visits were her favourite part of the job – and it was clear there was there was much mutual respect in the builder/ architect relationship.

During this time Penelope published two further influential books; New Houses in 1964 and New Single-Storey Houses in 1966. Unlike ‘The New Small House’, which had included international examples and two Thames barge conversions, these two focussed entirely on a variety of modern English houses, which were generally quite economical examples, to which people could relate.

Trevor died suddenly in 1983, at a young age, and Penelope retired from practice in that year, moving from London to the Forest of Dean, and finally to the lovely town of Newnham-on-Severn, in which she found constant interest and enjoyment. Partly in this context, she continued to say that she never stopped being glad (‘every day’!) that she was an architect.

Penelope married Trevor Hawkes A.C.G.I., M.I. Mech. E. in 1946 and leaves two children, six grand-children and four great-grandchildren.


Leonard Manasseh (19162017):
A reflection by Peter Ahrends

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It is with great sadness that we announce the death of AA Graduate, former Tutor and Past President Leonard Manasseh, who passed away at the age of 100 on 5 March 2017.

Leonard Manasseh: Architect, Teacher, Friend

In writing this personal appreciation of Leonard's work at the Architectural Association, I go back in time to September 1951 when I first arrived in London to make a late-teens life for myself. Somewhat overwhelmed by the size and spread of the city I was lifted by the density and strength of the South Bank's Festival of Britain: a campus of modern architecture marking and celebrating Labour's visionary post-war achievements.  London's fabric still showed residual scars of war, food rationing was still in place and, by comparison with today's level of general affluence, this now seems like another world, but one in which a strong sense of hope for a different social future prevailed.

For me this intense set of initial impressions formed an optimistic prelude to our first year course at the AA directed by Leonard (who'd designed one of the Festival buildings) with his charge of eighteen-year-olds occupying a spacious studio lying above the library, overlooking Bedford Square. But in all of this, what of Leonard?

Two things come to mind. First was Leonard's tangible but quiet passion about the art of architecture. Then, not unrelatedly, there was his relationship with others. For he was 'there' for one, and spoke in a way that suggested that we-are-all-equally-humans. Thoughtful, straight, respectfully confident, and obviously English, the timbre of his voice also spoke about togetherness. Fittingly, these characteristics and his warm presence came through to us, persuasively and tenderly, as our youthful understandings grew.

For the final project of the year we were let loose on the design of a single detached small family house. I had designed a glassy rectangular box whose single-storey length was intersected by a dividing wall; an extended vertical plane that rose above the flat roof. A statement, or what? In the crit that followed I was pleased to find that Leonard was positive about my scheme. But then, pausing awhile, he added: 'But there's an unresolved duality?’ Ever since, in my life's work at ABK, the more theoretical aspect of that question has remained, unanswered...

For the subject of Leonard's Christmas card last year he painted two red flowers, side by side, sending warmth and brightness in the winter's solstice. I enjoyed this painterly move presenting us with a couplet, rhyming in its togetherness.

Peter Ahrends, 22 March 2017

Peter Ahrends (AADipl 1956) was a student of Leonard Manasseh's at the AA, along with Richard Burton (AADipl(Hons) 1956) and Paul Koralek (AADipl 1956), who together founded Ahrends Burton and Koralek (now ABK) in 1961.

Image: Leonard Manasseh in 1964 (AA Photo Library)


Martyn Haxworth (1937–2016):
an AA memoir by Christopher Woodward

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The seventy new arrivals to the first year at the AA in1957 were accommodated on the first floor of the Morwell Street block. In a simulacrum of an architect’s office, on either side of a central corridor were rows of trestle tables, each supporting a double-elephant size drawing board and hardwood t-square. Drawing was clearly going to be important. Students were placed in alphabetical order, starting at the door, running to the end of the room, then returning on the other side, to the door. Those with names early in the alphabet (MH) found themselves across the corridor from those later (‘CW’), and from this accident what were to become life-long friendships sparked and matured.

The new students were a mixed bunch, some younger and straight from school, others, like Martyn, had done their National Service or had just taken up their studies again after the end of the world war in 1945. As we worked through the first year curriculum, drawing exercises led to a first attempt at design, a changing pavilion for a swimming pool. We were taught how to set up 2- and 3-point perspectives (magic!). When asked to illustrate our projects, many of us produced thin pen drawings and carefully coloured these in with water colour. Martyn’s experience at school with a charismatic art teacher came in handy: his perspectives were sketchy, scratchy, and coloured with broad strokes of gouache.

In the second to fourth years (no ‘gap year’ then) we worked through the curriculum devised by James Gowan, John Killick and Peter Smithson: design studies of each successive year of the three were based on the village, town and city. 

At the beginning of the fifth, final, year Martyn returned, newly married to Jenny. In the search for a Diploma project, conversations in the holiday had also led ML, CW and Jim Hodges to consider doing a group project together, and they hit on ‘working up’ a characteristic housing area of the recently-published Master Plan prepared by the LCC in 1961 for a new town at Hook in Hampshire. Group work, though treated suspiciously by the school because it made marking individual students a problem, was quite fashionable, and the result, assessed by a panel including Oliver Cox and Alison Smithson, was well-received. The group was tutored throughout by Alan Colquhoun who, while saying little, impressed on us the importance of thinking very hard: he left us with one of what became the most memorable of his aphorisms: “I think you’ll find I’m right”. Cedric Price occasionally dropped by and Year Master Robert Maxwell provided pastoral care. Glamourous visitors to the studio included Louis Kahn who stopped to chat with Martyn and asked what a brick wanted to be (but at that time he probably asked everyone that).

Having been head-hunted during the final term, on the day after this ended, MH and CW and others started work for the team that Colin Buchanan was leading to prepare the report that became ‘Traffic in Towns’ for the Minister of Transport. We became civil servants, signed the Official Secrets Act, and studied the effect of constrained and un-constrained traffic growth on access London’s Fitzrovia. The press misread this as a plan to cover London in 16-lane motorways, something our studies on the fourth year had clearly equipped us for. The report changed little: soon after its publication, in 1963, the minister, Ernest Marples lost his job, as did we.

From 1965, Martyn worked for Associated Architects and Consultants, Bill Allen (former Principal of the AA School) with Peter Rich and Birkin Haward, the three making a team designing and building a large housing scheme at Harlow New Town.

In 1965 he set up a practice with George Kasabov (AA 1954–59 ) and together they developed, designed and built a row of spacious three-storey houses on a site overlooking Highgate Cemetery. The Haxworth family established themselves at the end of the terrace, finding themselves sharing a garden wall with Leonard Manasseh (AA 1935–).

The partnership with Kasabov lasted until 1970 when Martyn set up a new practice with JCW Hodges (‘Jim’, one of the Hook Housing trio) who had left the Central Electricity Board, his sponsors for his AA studies. Jim brought several CEGB jobs with him, and the practice was also supported by rapid surveys for NHS hospitals. In 1974 the practice was secure and large enough to allow the partners to buy and develop a small freehold plot in West Smithfield in the City of London. They developed this their office housing the practice’s staff of about ten. They were joined in 1980 by Penelope Martin-Jones who arrived from Ahrends Burton and Koralek (AA). Clients continued to be the CEGB and NHS until the practice was dissolved in 1987 when the Haxworths moved to their last family home in Charlbury in Oxfordshire, while Martyn continued to practise on his own from West Smithfield until 2004 when he worked from home. In 2014 he became too ill to continue working. At his death in 2016 he had just completed a small ‘gatehouse’ – a two-room studio that he was never able to use.

Martyn had kept all his student work and meticulously catalogued it, together with the typed briefs to which we worked, and the reports of reviews that Year Masters made. I last saw him on a visit to Charlbury in 2014 to discuss who might be interested in housing this portfolio. He agreed that the AA would be its most suitable home where it now joins the 10,000 other drawings in the AA Archives.

Martyn Leslie Haxworth, architect, born 3 September month 1937; died 26 September 2016.

Click on the following link to be directed to the online AA Archive where you can see some of
Haxworth's work


Richard Burton OBE (19332017)

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(Richard St John Vladimir Burton, architect, born 3 November 1933; died 29 January 2017)

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of AA Alumnus and Honorary Member Richard Burton CBE at the age of 83 on 29th January. Richard was instrumental in helping The Architectural Association's Woodland Campus, Hooke Park, become part of the AA in 2002 and then advising on its development as the campus and teaching activities grew. He studied at the AA from 1951 to 1956, and went on to co-found Ahrends Burton and Koralek (ABK) with Peter Ahrends and Paul Koralek, who he met at the AA as fellow students.

Richard was born in Kensington and lived in London for most of his life. His mother was an actress and director and his father also worked in the theatre industry. Their marriage was short and Richard spent a lot of time with his grandmother as a child, Christabel Burton. Richard attended Bryanston School in Dorset where he was able to discover his passion and talent for art and architecture. It was his mother’s new husband, Gerald Barry who suggested he attended the AA School to further his career, which he joined in 1951.

Richard began his career working for London County Council and Powell and Moya, going on to design the Princess Margaret hospital in Swindon and extensions to Brasenose College in Oxford, before founding AKB in 1961. The work of ABK exemplified the optimism of the post-war era, and Richard’s key projects included the Berkeley Library in Trinity College, Dublin, as well as the House of Trees built for the Makepeace School (now used as the Refectory building at Hooke Park). He pioneered energy efficiency projects and forefronted the design of the British Embassy in Moscow, completed in 2000. In 1984 Ahrends Burton and Koralek won the competition for a new extension to the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, famously dismissed by Price Charles as a ‘monstrous carbuncle’, which lost them the project and created a long-lasting conflict between Price Charles and ABK despite shared environmental views. The National Gallery extension was commissioned to Venturi Scott-Brown.

Richard believed in the power of architecture transforming people’s lives and enriching society. For him, architecture was a real form of art. He was involved with a RIBA Energy initiative in the 70’s and worked with hospitals attempting to create buildings which would benefit the patients in recovery, often using the nature around the buildings to enhance his designs. Swindon Hospital is an example of this unique holistic design, and which became an international model for environmentally friendly buildings for healthcare. Richard was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Architects, an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and was made an Honorary Member of the AA in 2011.

Richard is survived by his wife Mireille along with their daughter and three sons. In recent years, Mireille and Richard opened to the public on Open House weekends their house in Kentish Town, which he had designed and built using materials recycled or left-over from other constructions, and Richard enjoyed the considerable interest this generated amongst neighbours, students and other visitors. A book launch and exhibition dedicated to the house were held at the AA in 2015.


Roderick Ham (19252017)

We are saddened to announce the death of the British architect, Roderick Thomas Mathieson Ham, who was born on September 1925 and passed away at the beginning of this year at the age of 91.

Rod Ham was principally known for his work on theatres, often working with the architect George Finch, in particular the designs for Derby Playhouse, the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich and the Thorndike Theatre in Leatherhead. He served in the British army during WWII as a Second Lieutenant.


Inette Austin-Smith (19242017)

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One of our most illustrious Alumni, Inette Austin-Smith, co-founder of the international practice Austin-Smith Lord, very sadly passed away 11 January 2017.

Inge Lotte Edith Austin-Smith (nee Griessmann) was born in Germany on 23 January 1924. She attended Downhurst School, Hendon, prior to studying Fine Arts at the University of Reading for one year. She subsequently joined the AA School of Architecture, where she trained from 1942-47. At the time she joined the AA, the school was evacuated to Mount House in Barnet, London. By 1944, while Griessmann was in her second year at the AA, the school recorded a demographic of more female students than male for the first time in its history, she being part of the 50 strong female population. Whilst at the AA, she received Mentions for her boathouse and library designs in 1943, and further Mentions for her landscape, texture and heating studies in 1944. Her fifth year project 'Flats, West Norwood', with S.E. Mullins, was awarded a Pass with Distinction. She joined the Forces whilst in her third year at the AA, and returned to join the 4th year in 1945 (see AAJ, December 1945-January 1946, p. 41). Following graduation she became naturalised on 22 February 1947 and changed her name to Inette Grierson by deed poll on 31 October 1947. After leaving the AA she worked for Middlesex County Council on schools and then for Norman & Dawbarn, in charge of the housing estate for paraplegics at Watford. In January 1948 she married John Michael Austin-Smith (1918-1999) who she had met in the fifth year at the AA, and changed her name to Inette Austin-Smith. In 1950, they set up in private practice – the practice was known as J.M. Austin-Smith and Partner, renamed Austin-Smith/Salmon/Lord in 1963 when Peter Lord and Geoffrey Salmon were made partners and then Austin-Smith/Lord in 1969 when Salmon left. Inette and Michael retired from practice in 1981. She remained a Members of the AA and a trustee at the Cornwall Architectural Trust for the rest of her life.

Inette donated her entire 5 years of AA work (1942-48) and that of her husband (AA 1936-47, AA President 1961-2) to the AA Archives in 2011 and she recorded an extensive set of oral histories for the AAXX100 project, which she was a patron of.


Habib Fida Ali (19352017)

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One of Pakistan’s most distinguished architects, who received many awards for his work, sadly passed away 7 January 2017. Habib Fida Ali’s work includes the design and construction of a number of important buildings as well as with the conservation and renovation of Mohatta Palace. He received a lifetime achievement awards from the Institute of Architects in Pakistan. The vast range of his work has been recorded and collected in The Architecture of Habib Fida by Hasan-ud-Din Khan.

In 1956 Frida Ali was the first Pakistani student to be admitted to the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. He graduated in 1962 and became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (ARIBA). On his return to Pakistan in 1963, Habib joined briefly William Perry's architectural practice in Karachi, before setting up his own practice in 1965. He worked on a number of corporate projects, public buildings and private houses. Amongst his most renowned projects were the Lahore University of Management Sciences, the Kohsaar Restaurant in Hill Park (which no longer exists), and he collaborated on the Jumeirah Beach Residence in Dubai. Habib Fida Ali served as president of the Institute of Architects of Pakistan’s Karachi chapter and as council member of the Union of International Architects (Region IV).


Lady Susan Lasdun (1929-2017)

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We are saddened to announce the passing away of Lady Susan Lasdun.

Susan was the widow of the eminent British architect Sir Denys Lasdun, who studied at the AA and later served as a member of the AA Council. She had studied at Camberwell Art School, and went on to write and work on the interiors of some of Sir Denys’ buildings.

After Denys died in 2001, Susan continued to have a relationship with the AA, becoming an Honorary Member in 2002, and frequently attending lectures, especially when researching her several books which included Making Victorians, The English Park and Victorians At Home. She is survived by two sons and a daughter.


Gillian Harris (1927-2016)

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It is with great sorrow to announce the death of Gillian Harris, former student and member of the AA. Gillian passed away on 28 September 2016, leaving her two children and husband, John R Harris, who also formed part of AA alumnus.

She studied architecture and interior design at our school between the years of 1945-1949, where she presumably met her future husband. Upon graduation, Gillian Harris remained a long standing member of the AA, staying up to date with all our news.


John Brian Emerson (1928 – 2016)

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Brian was born in Belfast in July 1928 and was educated at Fane Street Elementary School and then Methodist College. Leaving school, he joined the staff of Smyth Cowser in College Gardens where he served his time as an Articled Apprentice before qualifying in 1949 and becoming an Associate of the R.I.B.A. in 1951.


He then moved to London and spent time with Easton & Robertson in Bedford Square before travelling to Dublin to spend a year with Robinson, Keefe and Devane. During this time he joined the Architectural Association where he remained a member for the rest of his life. He returned to Smyth Cowser in Belfast in 1953 before becoming a partner in 1955.


A courtship then began with Joan Robinson, a young secretary at the R.S.U.A. They were married in 1957 and had two sons, John and David.


Through the 50s, 60s and 70s Smyth Cowser and Partners thrived on many commissions including The Nurses home at BCH, Belfast Bank Premises, Methodist College, Lisanelly Barracks Omagh, Lisburn and Newtownards Swimming Pools.


In 1979 Smyth Cowser and Partners was closed and Brian Emerson Associates was formed. Very much a family concern, Joan returned to secretarial duties and David joined after his studies in England. This smaller practice blossomed over the years with Brian able to return to the drawing board. Specialising in one off houses, extensions, listed buildings along with commissions retained from the past. Major works included redevelopment of Banbridge Hospital (now demolished), Lisburn Enterprise Organisation and Newry Fire Station.


The Practice moved in 1998 to David’s home in Kilmood and Brian retired although always on the end of the phone for advice.


Brian’s other love in life was Motor Cars in all forms, from buying and selling, to competing with some success in races, rallies and trials. In his later years he built several vintage cars from scratch and competed in them all over Britain and Ireland. The working drawings of these cars are also works of art.

 Brian will be remembered fondly by his family and friends for his consistent support, generous nature and sense of fun and it is a comfort that he lived his life to the full up until his short illness.


Andrew Walker (1942 – 2016)

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It is with great sadness that I report the death of our former colleague and dear friend Andrew Walker. Andrew passed away suddenly on Sunday 30th October 2016 at his home in York, North Yorkshire where he had moved to a number of years ago.

A former student of the AA (1959 – 1962), Andrew was Head of Technical Studies for nearly thirty years, overseeing the progress and assessment of hundreds of technical projects at the rear of 36 Bedford Square. The location was by necessity as Andrew undertook this role from his wheelchair. Over the many years, Andrew and his team of TS staff and various administrative co-ordinators made the only accessible part of the AA buildings at that time the hub of academic activity and a warm and welcoming environment for technical tutorials, guidance and support. A tireless champion of inclusive design, Andrew created and launched the one-day-day-release course in Environmental Access in the early 1990s, the first course of its kind in the UK. The course welcomed many candidates at a time when access and the built environment were very much on the periphery of social conscience. Andrew never fore-fronted the rights of the disabled; for him this simply highlighted a minority status. With his energy and determination he sought to educate those who were ‘non-disabled’, the real minority in his mind.

After retirement, Andrew moved to Deal in Kent but retained ‘The Cottage’ in Regents Square which had been his London home for 44 years. In 2008 Andrew made the decision to return to his ‘northern roots’. Publically, Andrew was moving to York, the city where Constantine the Great was declared Emperor of Rome! Privately, Andrew was returning to a place where he felt most at home. But wherever he was, Andrew retained a deep interest in the AA School and especially in the work and progress of our students.

I was one of the administrators fortunate to work for and with Andrew for a number of years. With friends and colleagues, past and present, I remember a time of hard work but mostly a time of great fun and lots of laughter with Andrew, who had the sunniest outlook on the darkest, longest and busiest of days. Thank you Andrew from all of us for your friendship, kindness, the wonderful times and fantastic memories.

Belinda Flaherty

7th November 2016





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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Certificate), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.