Category Archives: Posts … words

The Plague following GDC’s centenary

Updating the previous post on De Carlo here, the Plague soon overwhelmed Italy and now wreaks more havoc on England.  Of the three early 2020 offering planned:

First, the book arrived before the Plague, and my essay, Uno Sguardo a Giancarlo De Carlo is found here

Second, the issue of Histories of Post-war Architecture built around GDC is finally appearing (HPA5/2019/2) and my essay – words, then drawings, then photographs – has just reached me at the end of April 2020 when the Plague is said to be peaking here. Domestic action: Living in a house for jumpers. GDC and Ca’ Romanino is found here

Third, while Antonello Alici’s wonderful marathon of De Carlo readings did begin in early April (start here), his great De Carlo and Britain, which was to have been in Cambridge last week, was smothered by the Plague and may morph into future shapes in the future.

Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Segal, part 84

Keeping away from the alluring and addictive surf (I find I’ve wasted hours before I get surf-bored), I was surprisingly nudged awake this week by a younger architectural historian friend asking if I’d see a tweet about Walter Segal’s archive. She then kindly showed it to me.

Perhaps it happens to all tweets at holiday periods which ask a question. Certainly here a fascinating chain ensued, all stemming from an innocent private chat at a New Year party. Who knows, it may end with a wonderful, safe, organised and accessible home for the life-long material left by the ever meticulous Walter Segal.

But once on the surf this morning, that soon got me floating past all sorts of undecaying plastic in the data ocean – and suddenly meeting one of my own photographs of Walter Segal up a ladder. 

Ho hum. This opens a piece in a magazine called AnOther, it seems.  Quite a charming little piece about the Segal self-built streets in Lewisham (actually a puff for Alice and Taran’s lovely book), it also used two more of my pictures from those early self-building days. I wonder where they found them? But at least, although I was never show this 18-month old article before, they correctly credit my photos. It can be read here. 

Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words, Walter Segal | Leave a comment

Building Ambitions of Brighton College

Today is mid-May (but we won’t be mid-May for much longer, I hear) and I open this website for the first time this year. My story of Brighton College’s building ambitions is finally off to be printed today and can be changed no further. Looks good here. It has been an interesting project, it just growed and growed but I hope it has been worthwhile.

And in the time it has taken me to get to print, the OMA building has moved from this shot at the very end of 2018 to a genuinely recognisable building.

Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words | Leave a comment

Segal, Part 70

SPECIAL OFFER!  I have a copy of this classic masterpiece at greatly reduced price one week only – £129.99!

Otherwise, Segal fans, you will just have to wait for a while more for a new book to  appear… soon…

Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words, Walter Segal | Leave a comment

The world of Piero della Francesca : a couple of thoughts

This post – just as we are leaving Italy for a winter in England – simply locates two or three things which, during the recent Cognoscenti tour to the world of Piero della Francesca, I promised to make available to those on that tour.

The first is the David A King’s fascinating and completely original take on The Flagellation. I mentioned his ideas only very briefly as we stood in front of this amazing painting a few weeks ago.  Click here and you will be introduced to his thesis about Bessarion (to whom I did introduce the group) and his astrolabe, linked mysteriously with the Piero painting. The best introduction is the slideshow of his lecture in Urbino, well worth a glance (click on his “silent lecture” click here, once you are on his page to download it as a pdf).

The second is a short essay I wrote 25 years ago about Urbino. It’s a very brief introduction, but while on the tour, one of the travellers who had read it (as we had circulated it to the Renaissance City tour in 2915), suggested more of you might be interested, now you have had a taster of that remarkable city.  Here it is: my-kind-of-town_jmck.

Crowds at The Resurrection, at The Annunciation, and filling the piazza in Arezzo

Crowds at The Resurrection, at The Annunciation, and filling the piazza in Arezzo

Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words | Comments Off on The world of Piero della Francesca : a couple of thoughts

In 3 days time – Regarding the Human

I like this floating lady, almost Chagall-like, but I don’t think she made the final cut for the exhibition which opens on Saturday at The House of Friendship, 208 High Streeet, Lewes.

Posted in Posts ... words | Comments Off on In 3 days time – Regarding the Human


Forgive a few weekend musings.

Germans voted for and supported Hitler. Were they mesmerised? Were good people silent, leaving “too few free spirits to do any good”?

I have today been reading Sarah Bakewell on the mid 16th Century essay ‘Voluntary Servitude’ which discusses “the ease with which tyrants dominate the masses, even though their power would evaporate instantly if those masses withdrew their support.” (The “too few free spirits” phrase above also comes from her life of Montaigne, as do all following quotes.)

Today we continue to vote for those who have our own worst interests at heart.

Montaigne’s friend La Boétie “simply says that the people need only stop co-operating, and supplying armies of slaves and sycophants to prop the tyrant up.” In today’s democracies we simply can stop voting for them. “Yet this almost never happens, even to those who maltreat their subjects monstrously.”

La Boétie (around 1545) writes “that tyrants somehow hypnotise their people. … They cannot wake from the dream.” La Boétie, in Bakewell’s words, makes it sound almost like a kind of witchcraft. “If it occurred on a smaller scale, someone would probably be burned at the stake, but when bewitchment seizes a whole society, it goes unquestioned.”

Even George Osborne now compares that Farage poster to Nazi propaganda.

I think of carefully planned, slowly released, incitement to terrorism, in its new specificity. This is not attacking a ‘symbol’ – burning a flag, killing Lee Rigby in London simply because of his uniform, or aid workers and journalists for being ‘Western’. The terrorising murder of an important, singled-out, political actor is really different.

No one death is mourned any more, nor any less, than the other. But the issue of terrorism, of terrorist behaviour, is sharply different. Gangs of arms-length thugs marauded and murdered in the dark streets of inter-war Germany. But the socialist leaders were very specifically targeted.

Targeting an immigrant today is callous and totally indefensible. Targeting a prominent activist supporting immigrants is very different and far more dangerous.

We cannot all copy Spartacus’ colleagues and say “I am an immigrant.” But what if – to counter Hitler’s yellow star – everyone in Britain today, who has at least one grand-parent not born in this country, would wear a sign, say a white flower, and wear it with great pride. Would that not be something wonderful?

(I couldn’t take part, but today being Father’s Day, I note that my children’s grandparents, other than my own parents, are an anti-semitic Pole kidnapped by Russia as a young teenager, an Austrian Jew, an Arab Christian from Lebanon and a German Jew; all normal British citizens.)

A final thought. What if on one day – the day before the referendum, for example – every single British person with one grand-parent not born in Britain declined to work that day; downed tools, refused, was on strike for Britain and humanity. Then the country would notice.

June 19, 2016

Posted in Posts ... words | Comments Off on Sleepwalking

Segal 67: Walter Segal – William Morris – Colin Ward


Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words, Walter Segal | Comments Off on Segal 67: Walter Segal – William Morris – Colin Ward

Quinlan Terry addresses the Regency Society

Quinlan Terry has now given the Annual Anthony Dale Lecture to The Regency Society of Brighton & Hove for 2016.

I was reminded of my review in the Architects’ Journal of almost exactly the same lecture (but without carps at Hadid et al) thirty years ago when he delivered it at the RIBA.

But in this scrap I’ve just found here, only a quarter of a century ago, I was talking about his charming Riverside development in Richmond:



Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words | Comments Off on Quinlan Terry addresses the Regency Society

Segal part 66: Assembling Segal at the AA

assemble-segal tweeFinal preparations for the Walter Segal exhibition at the Architectural Association which opened with a packed party last night. In the foreground, a “Segal” pavilion by Assemble – winners of the latest Turner Prize – which now replaces the ‘temporary little house’ Segal built in his Highgate garden.

Beyond the model, to the left, are John Frazer and his wife, who built an interactive computer model of Segal’s system in 1980s to aid clients in designing themselves; to the right of the column are Jon Broome, Segal’s partner and successor with self-build; Nicholas Taylor, author of The Village in the City and, as Lewisham housing chair, the key enabler of the Segal method being taken up by a public housing authority; and John Segal, the architect’s son (seen again below portrait of Walter Segal by his father, Arthur Segal).

Five minutes after this picture was taken, there was barely room to move.


Posted in Posts … news, Posts ... words, Walter Segal | Comments Off on Segal part 66: Assembling Segal at the AA