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Title: Pessimist utopia : Theo Crosby, 1950-1990
Author: Kei, Juliana
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 5572
Awarding Body: Royal College of Art
Current Institution: Royal College of Art
Date of Award: 2019
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This research explores previously overlooked interconnections in 20th century British architecture by triangulating discourses in post-war Modernism, Postmodernism and preservationist architecture. It uses the works of British-South African architect, designer, writer and exhibition curator Theo Crosby (1925-1994) as a lens to make apparent and reflect on these conjunctures. Known primarily as a founding partner of the multi-disciplinary design firm Pentagram, Crosby started his career in the milieu of the post-war Modernist and, in the 1960s, became a vocal advocate for architectural preservation. In the 1980s he was an advisor to Prince Charles for his populist and controversial interventions within British architectural discourse. The study of Crosby's multifaceted career provides a means to inquire as to how discussions on architectural language and environment in post-war Modernism changed the trajectory of British architecture during its Postmodern turn, and to reflect on the radicalising effect exerted by the paradigm of 'preservation' upon architectural and cultural discourse. Drawing attention to experimental ventures in preservation and the nostalgic side of much celebrated techno-utopian visions, this study reveals confluences currently overlooked in late 20th-century British architectural history. It brings to light many of the particularities of British post-war Modernism and its interwoven nature with Postmodernism and preservation. This research critically evaluates other dimensions brought into view through the study of Crosby's career, such as architectural preservation's temporary turn to radical politics and information theory in the 1970s. This thesis connects Crosby's practices to the present day, in particular to the dilemmas encountered in preservation. His four-decade-long career is also used as a prism to reflect on how architects' attitude towards the past has been shaped by the economic, technological, industrial and political transformations in late 20th-century Britain.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K100 Architecture ; W200 Design studies