Qualifications: PhD, MA, Dip. Architecture, RIBA
Timothy Brittain-Catlin is an architect who has been writing about architectural history for many years, both for a general readership and for those with a particular interest in the revolutionary changes in architectural thinking in early nineteenth-century England.
He qualified as an architect in 1988 and has worked on a wide variety of design projects from conservation and restoration to masterplanning both in Britain and abroad. He joined the Kent School of Architecture from the Architectural Association in September 2007.
He specialises in early nineteenth-century and early twentieth English architecture and in particular in the work of A.W.N. Pugin, completing a doctorate on ‘The English residential architecture of A.W.N. Pugin in its context’ in 2004 under the supervision of Andrew Saint at the University of Cambridge. He is a regular contributor to the World of Interiors and the Architectural Review, and his publications include How to Read a Building (2007) and Churches (2008). His book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century was published by Spire Books in association with English Heritage in July 2008. His latest book is Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, published in 2014 by The MIT Press, the podcast is available here.
In Summer 2018 he was appointed to Historic England’s national Advisory Committee. He is the deputy chairman and publications chairman of the 20th Century Society and from this position he played a leading role in the Society’s recent campaign to save postmodernist buildings, which resulted in a change in national policy and the listing of 17 postmodern structures across the country. He established and chairs Lund Humphries’ new editorial board in the Architectural History of the British Isles, supported by the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain.
The reputation of architects at times of change
For the last ten years I have been working on a series of projects that all fall within the overall category of ‘the reputation of architects at times of change’. This began with my detailed investigation into the English architects whose careers were thrown off course by the success of the gothic revival from the 1840s. My book The English Parsonage in the Early Nineteenth Century, published by Spire Books in 2008, provides a richly illustrated depiction of the way in which the gothic revival and its protagonists swept across the country in a remarkably short period, in effect terminating or diverting the working lives of many of their predecessors. He is currently completing the first comprehensive, innovative overview of Edwardian domestic architecture since the 1970s, with new photography by Robin Forster, and this will be published by Lund Humphries in Autumn 2020.
Between 2008 and 2012 I started to work on studies of architects whose contribution to architecture and the profession was not matched by public acclaim or financial success. The reasons for this are varied: sometimes they did not have the drive to become commercially or socially successful; some narrowly failed to win competitions, or did win but the project remained unbuilt. Sometimes they worked in an unfashionable style; sometimes they were difficult characters with too many enemies. My first detailed study was of the mainly Edwardian architect Horace Field, whose designs for Lloyds Bank branches that resembled Restoration-era merchants’ houses eventually transformed the appearance of the interwar English high street, but whose successful early career with high-profile clients, houses and offices seemed to fizzle out rapidly after the First World War. I have also written about the ‘architects’ architect’ Leonard Manasseh, an influential and popular teacher at the Architectural Association in the 1950s and architect of the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu and the former Rutherford School in Marylebone.
In Spring 2014 The MIT Press published my book Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture, which provides many examples of ‘loser’ architects, and which proposes an explanation for why certain types of architecture never receive the type of critique and appreciation that they deserve.
I have been writing for The World of Interiors for 25 years, and contribute to many other magazines and journals, and I often discuss these matters there.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2014) Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. The MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass and London, UK, 192 pp. ISBN 9780262026697.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2011) ‘Downward trajectory: towards a theory of failure’. arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 15 (02). pp. 139-147.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) ‘Horace Field and Lloyds Bank’. Architectural History, 53. pp. 271-294. ISSN 0066-622X.
Brittain-Catlin, Timothy (2010) Leonard Manasseh & Partners. 20th Century Architects. RIBA Publishing / English Heritage / The Twentieth Century Society, London, 162 pp. ISBN 9781859463680
He welcomes proposals from prospective PhD students in related areas.
|Module Code||Module Title||Information|
|AR551||Nineteenth -Century Architecture||Module Convenor|
Also view these in the Kent Academic Repository
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). Bleak Houses: Disappointment and Failure in Architecture. [Online]. Cambridge, Mass and London, UK: MIT Press. Available at: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/bleak-houses.The usual history of architecture is a grand narrative of soaring monuments and heroic makers. But it is also a false narrative in many ways, rarely acknowledging the personal failures and disappointments of architects. In Bleak Houses, Timothy Brittain-Catlin investigates the underside of architecture, the stories of losers and unfulfillment often ignored by an architectural criticism that values novelty, fame, and virility over fallibility and rejection. Brittain-Catlin tells us about Cecil Corwin, for example, Frank Lloyd Wright's friend and professional partner, who was so overwhelmed by Wright's genius that he had to stop designing; about architects whose surviving buildings are marooned and mutilated; and about others who suffered variously from bad temper, exile, lack of talent, lack of documentation, the wrong friends, or being out of fashion. As architectural criticism promotes increasingly narrow values, dismissing certain styles wholesale and subjecting buildings to a Victorian litmus test of "real" versus "fake," Brittain-Catlin explains the effect that this superficial criticality has had not only on architectural discourse but on the quality of buildings. The fact that most buildings receive no critical scrutiny at all has resulted in vast stretches of ugly modern housing and a pervasive public illiteracy about architecture. Architecture critics, Brittain-Catlin suggests, could learn something from novelists about how to write about buildings. Alan Hollinghurst in The Stranger's Child, for example, and Elizabeth Bowen in Eva Trout vividly evoke memorable houses. Thinking like novelists, critics would see what architectural losers offer: episodic, sentimental ways of looking at buildings that relate to our own experience, lessons learned from bad examples that could make buildings better.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2010). Leonard Manasseh & Partners. London: RIBA Publishing.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2008). Churches: explore the symbols, learn the language and discover the history. London: HarperCollins.
Brittain-Catlin, T. and Charles, M. (2008). The English parsonage in the early nineteenth century. [Online]. Reading: Spire Books Ltd, in association with English Heritage. Available at: http://www.kent.ac.uk/architecture/staff/tbc_book/index.html.A detailed illustrated history of the development of the English parsonage from 1811 up to around 1850, focusing in particular on the impact of A. W. N. Pugin and the gothic revival on late Georgian architecture. Illustrated with extensive new photography by Martin Charles (Full Text Available via URL below)
Brittain-Catlin, T. and Charles, M. (2008). The English parsonage: a selection of photographs. Canterbury: Kent School of Architecture.Exhibition catalogue including an historical and architectural note, to accompany an exhibition of photographs by Martin Charles for 'The English parsonage in the early nineteenth century' by Timothy Brittain-Catlin held in the Keynes Gallery at Keynes College, April-September 2008
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2019). Chesterton, Dame Elizabeth Ursula. in: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.77157.
Brittain-Catlin, T. and Curl, J. (2018). Prolegemenon. in: Making Dystopia: the strange rise and survival of architectural barbarism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. ix-xii. Available at: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/making-dystopia-9780198753698?cc=gb&lang=en&.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 2008: Craddock Cottages. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, pp. 186-187. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). Realism in Nineteenth-Century British Architecture. in: Mallgrave, H., Bressani, M. and Contandriopoulos, C. eds. The Companions to the History of Architecture. Hoboken, USA: Wiley, pp. 174-191. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/9781118887226.Functionalism in nineteenth-century Britain took a specific form: realism. This was an approach to design which emphasized the real, physical, nature of building materials and the practical function of a designed object from its smallest details to its overall form. Born from an early nineteenth-century interest in the practical aspects of horticulture and architecture pioneered by John Claudius Loudon, and in the newly scientific approach to architectural history of John Britton, realism took off from 1836 with the ascent of the architect and designer A. W. N. Pugin. Pugin's texts, especially The True Principles of 1841, presented a theory of a rational, comprehensive architecture derived from an intimate knowledge of medieval buildings. This strongly appealed to architects who were facing new professional challenges and were frustrated by low building standards. Architects directly inspired by Pugin, including George Gilbert Scott, George Edmund Street, and William Butterfield, established the revived Gothic style and created an unprecedented international reputation for British architecture. A younger generation, from the 1880s onward, revived Puginian ideas especially in their rich designs for houses and interiors, but realism was eventually defeated by its own obsessiveness and detachment from the motives that had inspired it.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 1959: 6 Bacon's Lane. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, pp. 91-92. Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2017). 1999: Winterbrook House. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Houses 100 Years. London: Pavilion Books, p. . Available at: http://www.pavilionbooks.com/book/100-houses-100-years/.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). 1998: British Library. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Buildings 100 Years. London: Batsford, pp. 166-169. Available at: http://www.batsford.com/blog/100-buildings-100-years/.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). Postmodernism. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Buildings 100 Years. London: Batsford, pp. 151-153. Available at: http://www.batsford.com/blog/100-buildings-100-years/.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). A little glass of violets in the home-place. in: Moloney, A. ed. 1914 Now: four persepctives on fashion design. London: Centre for Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London, pp. 13-14. Available at: http://showstudio.com/project/1914_now/essay_a_little_glass_vase_of_violets_in_the_home_place.An architectural response to 'The Violet Hour', a film curated and produced by Professor Amy de la Haye of the Centre for Fashion Curation, London College of Fashion and made by the animator Katerina Athanasopoulou - part of the '1914 Now' series commissioned by Professor Alison Moloney, London College of Fashion. The chapter looks as Edwardian domestic design immediately before the First World War.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2014). 1983: Sainsbury Building, Worcester College. in: Charlton, S. and Harwood, E. eds. 100 Buildings 100 Years. London: Batsford, p. . Available at: http://www.batsford.com/blog/100-buildings-100-years/.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2012). Is it old or is it new? in: Buhagiar, K. and Banthorpe, J. eds. A Printed Thing: writing Architecture Project. Valletta: Architecture Project, pp. 58-70. Available at: http://www.bdlbooks.com/architecture/4052-a-printed-thing.html.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2011). 'A.W.N. Pugin: realist and revolutionary'. in: Powell, K. ed. The Great Builders. London: Thames & Hudson, pp. 107-112. Available at: http://www.thamesandhudson.com/9780500251799.html.
Brittain-Catlin, T. (2011). Thanet's architecture in the heyday of sea-bathing. in: de Moubray, A. ed. Saving Thanet: the architecture of Kent's forgotten coast. London: SAVE Britain's Heritage, pp. 16-18. Available at: http://www.savebritainsheritage.org/news/article.php?id=203.
Brittain-Catlin, T., de Maeyer, J. and Bressani, M. eds. (2017). Gothic Revival Worldwide: A.W.N. Pugin's global infuence. [Online]. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press. Available at: http://upers.kuleuven.be/en/book/9789462700918.
Adler, G., Brittain-Catlin, T. and Fontana-Giusti, G. eds. (2012). Scale Imagination, Perception and Practice in Architecture. [Online]. Abingdon: Routledge. Available at: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415687126/.Scale is a word which underlies much of architectural and urban design practice, its history and theory, and its technology. This book considers what is culturally specific about scale? And what does scale mean in a world where an intuitive, visual understanding is often undermined or superseded by other senses, or by hyper-reality? With a visual essay in each section, this book is for students, academics and practitioners in architecture and architectural theory as well as of interest to students in a range of other disciplines including art history and theory, geography, anthropology and landscape architecture. Contributors: Introduction Gerald Adler 1. Scale Excursus 1: The Scale of the Detail, Natalie Rozencwaig Part 1: Scale Before the Twentieth Century The Role of Small-Scale Images by Wenceslaus Hollar: the Rebuiling of London in the Late Seventeenth Century, Gordana Fontana-Giusti Mildendo and Masdar: A Tale of Two Cities, Adam Sharr Examining the Knots…Counting the Bricks': John Ruskin's Innocent Eye, Stephen Kite The Worm's Eye as a Measure of Man: Axonometry in Architectural Representation, Hilary Bryon Scale Excursus 2: Scale in Recent Projects by MVRDV, Natalie de Vries Part 2: Scale in Art and Perception Colour Scales, Fay Zika Scales of Interaction: Aligning the Qualitative with the Quantitative in Music and Architecture, Fiona Smyth Architectual Scale: Psychoanalysis and Adrian Stokes, Janet Sayers Sublime Indifference, Helen Mallinson Measuring Up: Measurement and the Redefinition of Scale in Conceptual Art, Elise Noyez Scaling Haptics – Haptic Scaling: Studying Scale and Scaling in the Haptic Design Process of Two Architects who Lost their Sight, Peter-Willem Vermeersch and Ann Heylighen Scale Adjustment in Architecture and Music, Richard Coyne Scale Excursus 3: Complex Ordinariness in Oxford: 'House after Two years of Living', Igea Troiani Part 3: Scale in the Twentieth Century Ethos Logos Pathos: Architects and their Chairs, Jonathan Foote 'Halfway between the Electron and the Universe': Doxiadis and the Delos Symposia, Simon Richards Little Boxes, Gerald Adler Scale and Identity in the Housing Projects of Coderch, Michael Pike Politics and the Deliquescence of Scale: the Columbaria of Brodsky and Utkin, Michael Ostwald