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Philip Bell: a champion of the Modern Movement in Northern Ireland

  • Paul Larmour (a1)


Architecture in Northern Ireland in the twentieth century followed much the same pattern as elsewhere in the British Isles moving, broadly, from historic styles around the turn of the century, through a phase of Arts and Crafts activity for a decade or so, until settling down to a concentrated period of interest in Neo-Georgian styling in the 1920s and '30s. This inter-war era included, however, some examples of Modernism, primarily of an ornamented Art Deco type but occasionally of a more plain variety which ranged between Functionalism and the International Style. Examples of this type of modern architecture – characterised by flat roofs, white walls, large horizontal windows and a general avoidance of ornamentation – formed only a comparatively small part of the overall output of the period in Northern Ireland, and, for most architects who were involved, their contribution amounted to little more than a building or two; such was the prevailing tradition-bound architectural mood of the time.

One architect in Northern Ireland, however, demonstrated a commitment to the Modern Movement that appears to have been greater than most. That was Philip Bell, whose name has been mentioned from time to time by various commentators, whether as a designer of Modernist houses or as the architect of one other particularly well-known building of the 1930s in Northern Ireland, the Strangford Lough Yacht Club House, which was an accomplished and stylish enough building to have been featured in the English architectural press at the time.


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Philip Bell: a champion of the Modern Movement in Northern Ireland

  • Paul Larmour (a1)


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