The Architectural Uneasy: 18 March 2011

The Architectural Uneasy: Relationships Between Old and New

Friday 18 March 2011

This was the first of the 'Melvin Debates' series, initiating discussion of three vital aspects of architecture in the context of contemporary social, economic, and political conditions.

The debates reflect the wide and varied interests in architecture of Peter Melvin (1933 - 2009) and Muriel Melvin (1931 - 2008) and are funded in their memory by their children, Joanna, Jeremy and Stephen.


  • Paul Finch, Director of the World Architecture Festival, and editor emeritus of the Architectural Review and the Architects' Journal 
  • Francis Golding, (chair) Townscape Consultant 
  • Margaret Richardson, former Director of Sir John Soane's Museum (1995 - 2005). Currently Hon Curator of Architecture at the Royal Academy of Arts and a Council member of the National Trust.
  • Catherine Croft, Director of the Twentieth Century Society 
  • Owen Luder, architect and past President of the RIBA 
  • Niall McLaughlin, Niall McLaughlin Architects 
  • Eric Parry, Eric Parry Architects 
  • Edwin Heathcote, architect, designer and writer


Themes include:

  • The politics and authority in conservation and heritage: whose judgements on worth should prevail?
  • The case against conservation
  • Demolition and renewal
  • Restoration strategies and reliable source material
  • How architectural theory helps define design strategies and why it provides models for the future.

Paul Finch (Duration: 04:27)

Paul Finch provides context for the series of the Melvin Debates.


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Francis Golding (Duration 03:58)

Francis Golding introduces the topic of the first lecture, the Architectural Uneasy.



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Margaret Richardson (Duration: 23:57)

Margaret discusses the politics and authorities in conservation heritage, and specifically how responsibilities for the restoration of historic buildings are divided between owners, statutory and voluntary bodies, and design professionals.


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Catherine Croft: On Keeping in Context (Duration 14:34)

Catherine discusses cases the Twentieth Century Society have been involved with.



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Owen Luder: responds to the first two speakers (Duration 10:58)



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Niall McLaughlin Soundings: how Semper charts a passage through Street on a search for origins (Duration 32:12)

Taking the audience through his approach to the design project for the RIBA competition winning project for a Chapel, Ripon College Cuddesdon, near Oxford, Niall considers how the architect interacts with history. 



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Eric Parry Foresight and forgetfulness: the presence of the past (Duration 18:30)

Eric Parry discusses two projects: the renewal project at St Martin-in-the-Fields, London and the refurbishment of the Holburne Museum of Art, Bath.



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Edwin Heathcote responds to the speakers, and takes questions from the floor (03:15)