Adapting the modernist ideals of prewar architecture to the needs of postwar reconstruction in Britain, Alison and Peter Smithson were among the most influential and controversial architects of the latter half of the twentieth century. As younger members of CIAM (Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne) and as founding members of Team 10, they were at the heart of the debate on the future course of modern architecture; the uncompromising clarity of their Hunstanton Secondary Modern School (1949-1954), which stripped down the language of Mies van der Rohe to a rough simplicity, heralded the Smithsons’ role as the leading exponents of the New Brutalism (a term they coined). As members of the Independent Group alongside Richard Hamilton, Eduardo Paolozzi, Reyner Banham and others, they participated in the 1956 landmark show “This Is Tomorrow,” affiliating themselves with the burgeoning Pop art movement in Britain.
This beautifully produced and fully illustrated volume collects the most important essays published on the couple’s work, from older texts by Reyner Banham, Peter Cook, Kenneth Frampton and Philip Johnson to the most recent texts by Peter Eisenmann, Christine Boyer, Beatriz Colomina and Louisa Hutton. The first publication in Poligrafa’s new “Critical Anthology” series, it provides an essential critical context for the reception of New Brutalism in England.
Alison (1928-1993) and Peter (1923-2003) Smithson met at Durham University in England and were married in 1949. Their Hunstanton School, now a Grade II listed building, announced a new style of construction that foregrounded concrete and repetitive, angular geometries; later works declared a socialist dimension to their philosophy, particularly in the exposure of interior functions.