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John Voelcker: redefining his place in Team 10 and post-war British architectural culture

  • Suzanne Frank (a1)

Extract

The British architect John Voelcker (1927–72) was a founding member of the small international, avantgarde group, Team 10 (1953–81), an outgrowth of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM). Voelcker was one of six authors of the document, ‘Doorn Manifesto’, a ‘Statement on Habitat’ that emphasised ‘vital human associations’. The Manifesto appeared in 1954, one year after Voelcker exhibited the ‘Zone’, his Architectural Association senior thesis and one of the first acknowledged Team 10 efforts, in Aix-en-Provence at the ninth CIAM meeting (1953). The Zone (on which he collaborated with Pat Crooke and Andrew Derbyshire between 1951 and 1952), as well as a north London dwelling that he designed for Humphrey Lyttelton (1957–58), and his contribution to agricultural vernacular building projects in Kent, are prototypical examples of Team 10's work. Voelcker's distance from the large-scale, analytical rationalism of CIAM and his interest in a socialminded vernacular aligned him with Team 10. Voelcker eventually published three articles on Team 10: the most notable one in Arena (1965), as well as another in Architects' Year Book (1957) and a third in Carré bleu (February 1960). These situate him plausibly as a historian of the group. In one of these essays Voelcker advocates an ‘open aesthetic’ that is not clearly defined, but that implicitly calls on architects to avoid imposing pre-ordained symbols and to include references to the past in their designs without, however, being rigidly imitative, as was the case, he argues, with the deleterious medieval features of Milan's Torre Velasca (1957) designed by BBPR.

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John Voelcker: redefining his place in Team 10 and post-war British architectural culture

  • Suzanne Frank (a1)

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