GOODBYE TO THE URBAN MODERNIST
The famous American architect Neave Brown died on January 9, 2018. The author of the modernist project of urban housing Alexandra Road in London, received the Gold Medal of the RIBA a few months before his death, this award is the greatest honor for architecture in the United Kingdom.
The American architect based in Great Britain, Neave Brown.
Given in recognition of a lifetime’s work, the Royal Gold Medal was personally approved by Her Majesty the Queen and is given to a person or group of people who have had a significant influence, either directly or indirectly in advancing the architecture. Awarded since 1848, the former Gold Medalists include Zaha Hadid (2016), Frank Gehry (2000), Norman Foster (1983), Frank Lloyd Wright (1941) and Sir George Gilbert Scott (1859).
Neave Brown, the revered modernist architect, was perhaps best known for his visionary 1970 estate, Alexandra Road, near Swiss Cottage built by the Camden Council. With its amazing terraced concrete terraces and spacious apartments, it not only provides 500 houses but, according to Neave’s own words, it is “a piece of town”, containing shops, workshops, a community center, a school with special needs, a center for children, a care home for young people with learning difficulties and a public park of 16,000 m2.
Brown believed that each home should have its own gateway that opens directly to a network of routes and streets that make up a city, as well as to its own private outdoor space, open to the sky, in the form of a rooftop garden or terrace. Each of these qualities was incorporated by Brown on Alexandra Road. “All my work! I got it flying blind, it seems I was flying all my life. The Royal Gold Medal is completely unexpected and overwhelming. It is the recognition of the importance of my architecture, its quality and its current urgent social relevance Wonderful! assured Brown upon receiving the award.
The first of Brown’s seminal works, Winscombe Street, was built by a cooperative established by Brown and his friends; the second and the third, Fleet Road and Alexandra Road, by the Camden council, to which Brown had been dragged by the leadership of Sydney Cook.
“At a time when the social dimension of architecture receives renewed attention, it is difficult to think of someone more appropriate to receive the RIBA Royal Gold Medal 2018 than Neave Brown. Through his constructed works, and, above all, the acclaimed urban ensemble of Alexandra Road, Brown has provided a model of an architecture that is not only outstanding in its form but is completely rooted in both the social relationships it supports and in the urban fabric that reinforces. Brown represents architecture in its broadest sense, such as the creation of buildings and cities that are not only beautiful for the eyes, but also make our society a better and richer place to live. ” Commented Mark Swenarton, architecture teacher and historian.
“The United Kingdom must now look back to Neave Brown’s housing ideals and innovative architecture as we strive to solve the great housing crisis. The government should empower and then encourage every council across the country to build a new generation of well-designed and affordable housing. and sustainable homes that meet the needs of the millions of people who currently fail in the housing market. ” Affirms Ben Derbyshire president of the RIBA. Brown added to his career as a teacher and artist.