An Architectural History of Gentrification, 1965-1975
RIBA Reseach Trust Award 2009
The overarching purpose of my research is to investigate and establish the extent of the engagement of the public with architectural culture at specific historical moments. This present piece of research will concentrate on the popular response to the history of building, especially the houses and domestic landscapes threatened by the urge to modernism during the 1950s and 1960s in Britain, and particularly in London. 'Gentrification', so-called, is used as one of the indicators of the growing interest in historic buildings of the once despised late Victorian and Edwardian periods, but this was because as evidenced in the popular magazines, interest shifted from the impulse to 'modernize' older properties, to the 'restoration' of these houses, and their return to a state never known in their previous existence.
This interest in buildings previously taken for granted or actively despised, coincided with a cultural shift which saw what seems an almost volte face. Starting with the Forsyth Saga, 1967, popular television series were set in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods, while working class comedies centred around figures such as Steptoe and Son, 1970-74, immersed in the second hand trade, so important to the restorers among the gentrifiers. Other aspects of popular culture, such as dress, reflected the interest in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, and was perhaps more influential than television or gentrification in awakening an interest, particularly among the young. Lying behind this cultural phenomenon was the architecture of the relevant periods which now appeared worth saving when threatened, thus the flourishing of amenity societies such as the Georgian Society, and particularly the Victorian Society. When gentrification is seen within the context of the popular culture of the period, we can understand something of the cultural negotiations taking place between classes and between professionals and the public.
Tanis Hinchcliffe has studied in Canada and Britain and has degrees in English Literature, Art History and History. She has taught in London schools of architecture for thirty years, and is at present Reader in Architectural History at the University of Westminster. In her research she has engaged with many aspects of English and French architecture of the past 250 years.
Her publications include: North Oxford, Yale University Press, 1992, and more recently with John Bold, Discovering London's Buildings, Frances Lincoln, 2009.
Among her other recently published work are:
Peter Collins and Architectural Education,' pp. 19-28, in Irena Latek ed., Peter Collins and the Critical History of Modern Architecture, Montréal, Institut de Recherche en Historie de l'Architecture, 2002;
'Women and the Practice of Architecture in XVIII-century France,' pp. 83-96, in Helen Hills ed., Architecture and the Politics of Gender in Early Modern Europe, Ashgate, 2003;
'Marie Dormoy and the Architectural Conversation,' pp. 113-124 in Brenda Martin and Penny Spark, eds., Women's Places: Architecture and Design 1860-1960, London: Routledge, 2003;
'Robert Morris, Architecture and the Scientific Cast of `Mind in Early-Eighteenth Century England', 12 pp., Architectural History, Vol 47, 2004, pp. 127-138.
Dr Hinchcliffe can be contacted via e-mail: email@example.com