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A Semi-Social Magazine: Love, Life, and Architectural Design

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Stephen Parnell


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This paper analyses the magazine Architectural Design (AD) under the post-war editorship of Monica Pidgeon. Through extensive archival research, content analysis, oral histories, and interviews, I adopt a unique biographical approach to understand the people behind the magazine and their networks, and argue that Pidgeon had a very different idea of criticism to how we might today interpret it in retrospect. Pidgeon was neither an architect nor an ideologue and did not run her magazine on the basis of a campaign for how she believed the world should be reconstructed. Instead, her commitment was primarily to people – the architects whom she accepted into her network – rather than their buildings. I argue that Pidgeon’s personal and professional life became so entangled that she developed this network as a type of social ‘club’ to the extent that AD turned into her life and her life into AD. The paper is split into two halves: the first explores Pidgeon’s background in order to develop an understanding of her approach to editing an architectural magazine; the second describes the contents of the magazine and the networks of its contributors during the tenure of the first three Technical Editors, Theo Crosby, Kenneth Frampton, and Robin Middleton. In contrast to conventional understandings of architectural criticism and history, the paper emphasises the messy personal, human, back-stories as a fundamental driver of the decisions that are made about what is ‘given ink’ and, as a consequence, what is ultimately nominated to the canon of architectural history.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Parnell S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: In Press

Journal: Histories of Postwar Architecture

Year: 2021

Issue: 6

Pages: 133-161

Acceptance date: 05/03/2021

Date deposited: 10/05/2021

ISSN (electronic): 2611-0075

Publisher: Depts. of Architecture, The Arts and for Life Quality Studies – University of Bologna


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