Monthly Archives: June 2013

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 2

Ana Tostões and Zara Ferreira, ‘How to be Modern and Design with Climate: Fry and Drew’s Legacy and the School Programme in Mozambique (1955-1975)’.

Maxwell Fry (1899-1987) and Jane Drew (1911-1996) headed an essential role on the design with climate issue. They contributed to reveal the possibility of a Modern Movement architecture applied to the tropics showing what was beyond the Brazilian Modern and its formal answer. An efficient and technical approach was achieved connecting design tools with sanitarian requirements, establishing a methodological and pedagogical brand disclosed by their research, lessons, publications (Fry; Drew, 1964) and buildings (Kultermann, 2000, 54).

Their action was reflected on the development of the Modern Movement architecture in the former African Portuguese colonies, throughout the ’50s and ’60s, namely in Mozambique: in the scope of the African investment overseas conducted by the “Estado Novo” dictatorship (1926-1974) the educational programme was the main focus following other African countries strategies, according to updated UNESCO policies.

Though, in the beginning the high schools buildings were designed in the metropolis, Lisbon, through the Colonial Urbanization Office (GUC), soon the role would be taken by the local offices receiving influences from the Tropical Architecture in Dry and Humid Zones at the Architectural Association course, in London, sponsored by GUC to their employees. At the same time, two facts come together: the wave of Portuguese architects’ emigration to African colonies and the increasing autonomy of these territories (Tostões; Oliveira, 2010). So, one may say that Fry and Drew prepared a whole generation of Portuguese architects skilled on tropical climates design methods.

In Mozambique, it gave rise to the development of the Public Works Department, where a school trail-blazer concept was developed by Mesquita (1919-?). Widely developed between 1955 and 1975 (the year of the colonies independence), seeking for an efficient energetic performance and comfort in a tropical climate, a modus operandi has been conceived and applied (Ferreira, 2012).

The paper aims to demonstrate how the Modern Movement ideology has been locally interpreted, following Fry and Drew knowledge and pedagogy. Their influence will be analyzed in order to enlighten the school building culture using some case studies.


FERREIRA, Zara, O Moderno e o Clima na África Lusófona. Arquitectura escolar em Moçambique: o programa de Fernando Mesquita (1955-1975). Dissertation to obtain the degree of Master in Architecture. Lisbon: IST-UTL, 2012.

FRY, Maxwell, DREW, Jane, Tropical Architecture in the Dry and Humid Zones. London: BT Batsford, 1964.

KULTERMANN, Udo; FRAMPTON, Kenneth, World Architecture 1900-2000: A Critical Mosaic. Central and Southern Africa, Vol. 6, China Architecture & Building Press, Springer-Verlag Wien New York, 2000

TOSTÕES, Ana; OLIVEIRA, Maria Manuel, “Transcontinental Modernism. M&G as an Unité d’habitation and a factory complex in Mozambique”, DOCOMOMO International Journal 43 – 2010/2 Brasilia 1960-2010, Winter 2010, pp. 70-73.


Ana Tostões is an architect, architectural historian and chair of Docomomo International ( She is Associate Professor with Habilitation at IST-UTL, Lisbon, where she is in charge of the architectural PhD programme. Her research field is the history of architecture and the city of the twentieth century, in which she develops an operative view, oriented towards the conservation of modern architecture, focusing especially on post-war architectural culture and on the relations between European, African and American production. On these topics she has published books and scientific articles and curated exhibitions. She’s actually coordinating the research project (PTDC/AUR-AQI/103229/2008) EWV: Exchanging World Visions. The project aims to study Sub-Sahara African architecture and planning mostly built in Angola and Mozambique during the modern movement period.


Zara Ferreira is an Intern Architect and Research Fellow at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST-UTL), Master in Architecture at IST-UTL with a dissertation entitled The Modern and the Climate in the Lusophone Africa. School buildings in Mozambique: the Fernando Mesquita concept (1955-1975). Based on the systematic analysis of case studies, on which she carries out the analysis and the interpretation of the systems and technologies designed to respond to specific levels of comfort for the tropical climate, along with the analysis of the organization of the built environment and the functional typology, the essay aims to contribute for the characterization of the school’s architectural program (developed under the scope of the research project EWV: Exchanging World Visions).


‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 1

Christina Papadimitriou, ‘Houses of Chandigarh’.

“Birth is an impingement by an environment which insists on being important… To be born or to relive birth is to experience the feeling of being in the grips of something external.” Donald Winnicott

This paper will narrate the story of the housing schemes of Chandigarh built in a period of anxiety shortly after India’s independence in 1947. Following Nihal Perera’s argument that Chandigarh is a hybrid of imaginations negotiated between multiple agencies rather than a single author’s creation, the narrative will try to give an account of the different voices expressed and the different visions of modernity moving between individuals – as diverse as Otto Koenigsberger, Albert Mayer, Matthew Nowicki, Maxwell Fry, Jane Drew, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret – and national and institutional platforms.

The main argument will be made in terms of international relationships, with major and minor players, as they manifest themselves in the building of the houses of Chandigarh and not in post-colonial terms since the latter frame of thought has the tendency to reduce the ex-colony to the role of a post-colony. Thus, by focusing on Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, this paper will compare their housing projects in Chandigarh not only to their work in West Africa or in the Middle East, as is usually the case, but also with their projects in Britain such as the two schemes designed for Harlow, the Tany’s Dell and Chantry housing groups. Since Fry and Drew were also responsible for the bye-laws provisioned for Chandigarh, similarities and differences between them and those of the London County Council will also be drawn. The paper’s aim is to demonstrate a process of modernization that affects everyone but where “effects” on a specific subject depend on the latter’s position in the instance of modernization.


Christina Papadimitriou is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University where she received her M.A. in 2011. She also holds an M.A. (Dist.) in Histories and Theories from the Architectural Association in London, a Diploma (Dist.) in Architecture from the University of Patras and a Diploma in Art and Archaeology (Dist.) from the University of Athens. Her dissertation studies the MARS Group in Britain from 1933 until 1957. Starting as a marginal architectural group, MARS acquired a preeminent position both in England and abroad after the Second World War and played an important role in the way the modern movement was perceived and disseminated globally. The dissertation takes on specific themes of shared interest as indicated by the group’s organized committees and narrates the MARS story through exemplary but formally diverse solutions to the obstacles the group had identified in Britain’s way to modernism.


Designing Buildings in 15 Minutes: A day in the life of Otto Koenigsberger, Government Architect to the Govt. of H.H. the Maharaja of Mysore

by Rachel Lee

The following extract is from a private letter written by the architect, planner and educator Otto Koenigsberger (1908-1999) to his family in 1940.  He probably typed it in his small room in the bungalow he shared with the Brinitzer family at 42 Infantry Road, Bangalore, India. Like the Brinitzers, Koenigsberger, a native Berliner with a Jewish background, was in exile.

  1948_Koenigsberger and colleagues at the PWD

Due to a fortuitous family connection, in 1939 Koenigsberger had been contracted to work as an architect in Princely Mysore, a South Indian state with a limited amount of independence from British colonial rule. Thus his boss was not a member of the British Raj, but the ambitious Dewan (Prime Minister) Mirza Ismail, whose favourite pastime was building. In November 1939 Koenigsberger was promoted to Government Architect, the highest position for an architect in the state. As the humorous extract reveals, although his job kept him very busy, it did not prevent Koenigsberger from trying to build up a private practice or enjoying himself in his new home . . .

“I shall give you a short review of one day in the life of the Government Architect to the Govt. of H.H. the Maharaja of Mysore.

My boy appears at 6:30 am in my room in order to wake me up. This has the result that I go on sleeping till quarter to or quarter past seven. Which of the two depends on the situation whether I must go and see the Dewan in his Bungalow or not. He belongs to those immorally hard working people whom I thoroughly dislike and has already one hour of hard work finished when I come to see him at 7:30. The next item is an enormous breakfast at 8 and instruction of my private draughtsman at 8:30 – Yes I have a private draughtsman and ‘secretary’. He is an Angloindian with the nice name Eric J. Crane, is rather shy, not too bright, and of course very unreliable. He comes for three hours in the morning and three in the afternoon and tries hard to learn how to do architectural drawings, so that I may be well armed and prepared when the great wave of private work comes of which I am daydreaming.

If there are no other inspections (on most days there are, my average is about 30 miles a day inside Bangalore only) I go to the office between 9 and 10 in order to have some quiet hours before my six men arrive at 11.

1940_Serum Institute

The morning post brings about 5 to 6 requests for designs per day, say one hospital, one bungalow for an officer, one railway station, one cinema, and a number of smaller tasks and alterations. In addition comes a tray full of files, for all building plans, small or big must go through my hands before they can be sanctioned by Govt. In Europe I would have worked about a week to design a hospital and about another week or fortnight to prepare the drawings. Here the main idea and the sketch must be ready in ten to fifteen minutes and then the assistant or draftsman must prepare the plans within two to four days. Of-course these designs cannot be so well worked out as mine were at home. To keep up at least a certain standard of exactness and efficiency I must permanently go round from one to the other to correct the plans and to tell them what they must do. In the intervals between my wanderings from one drawing board to another I try to attend to my files, to answer letters, and to make a number of sketches and small plans which I can finish myself in less time than it would need to explain to somebody else how to do them.

1940_Dispensary Bangalore

At 1:15pm I go home for lunch and for new instructions for my home-draftsman and back to the office at 2 or 2:15. The afternoon is usually filled with visitors who want all sorts of technical instructions or come discussing of new building schemes. Of-course only a very small percentage of our many designs will be built, and if they are it will take at least half a year or a year till they are started. That gives the Dewan who plays the role of ‘Bauherr’ [client] in this game ample time to ask for new schemes and accordingly revised designs.

Usually I am home at 6 in the afternoon. I sit down for a late but very big tea which usually takes about half an hour, not because I eat so much, but because I am just lazy and enjoy my rest. Every second day a Kanareese lesson follows from 6:45 to 8 or 8:15. If there is no lesson this time should be spent with learning what we had the day before, but so far I have always found an excuse not to learn so that the result of a fortnight of lessons with a very good teacher is very poor.          

1939_Municipal Swimming Pool

Dinner is celebrated from 8:30 to 9:30 when we hear the news from England. As it usually is a very good and rich dinner you can imagine that there is not much energy left for letterwriting in the evening.          

This description of my life is unadequate in two points: (1) it sounds boasting and at the same time complaining. But it is certainly not meant to do so. I thoroughly enjoy my work. I only tried to explain that a day of permanent designing is somewhat exhausting. (2) It gives the picture of rather a dull and narrow (English for ‘spiessig’) life. But actually I am meeting interesting new people nearly every day, studying a most interesting country, reading a few good books (for instance the latest Aldous Huxley ‘After many a Summer,’ which I enjoyed very much), seeing a film once in a while and hearing a good deal of Indian and European (gramophone) music.”[1]

Note: Although Koenigsberger’s native language was German, the outbreak of World War II forced him to communicate with his family, who were by then living in the USA and UK, in English – letters in German were censored or confiscated.

 The images are reproduced with the permission of the Koenigsberger family.

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[1] Koenigsberger Papers at the Jewish Museum Berlin: Extract from a letter from Otto Koenigsberger to Kaethe Koenigsberger dated 7 February 1940

The Bauhaus Effect

In late 1934 Walter Gropius left Nazi Germany with his wife, Ise. Taking up Jack and Molly Pritchard’s offer to stay in one of their Isokon flats, at Lawn Road in Hampstead, Gropius joined Maxwell Fry in a partnership that would last until his appointment at Harvard University in 1937.

Fry and Gropius worked with Jack Pritchard on a series of projects for Isokon buildings – at sites in Manchester, Windsor, and Birmingham – although all went unrealised. The ‘Isokon 3’ scheme at St. Leonard’s Hill on the outskirts of Windsor was the most developed of these and featured in a 1935 article entitled ‘Cry Stop to Havoc – or preservation by development’ by the Architectural Review. The article’s alarmist title reflects contemporary debate regarding the spoilation of the English countryside by suburban sprawl, which new organisations such as the Council for Preservation of Rural England sought to address. Fry and Pritchard were familiar with such ideas through their involvement with the Design and Industries Association, and used this debate to push forward their plans for a modernist development; as Pritchard wrote, Isokon aimed ‘to make a profit from building in the country without spoiling the countryside’.


Page showing ground floor plan of Isokon 3, from ‘Cry Stop to Havoc’, Architectural Review, 1935.

Situated amidst 33 acres of parkland of a ruined Elizabethan country house, the article demonstrates how the Isokon 3 development might preserve 32 acres of the park as open space. With the historic setting and views out towards Windsor Forest, the combination of English heritage and modern European architecture was promoted as unique. The AR article is full of photographs of existing camellia bushes and references to Eton and Windsor Castle, alongside seductive sketches of light, airy rooms with unobstructed views. Pritchard wrote: ‘The combination of Gropius and Fry should be important … Fry’s own very English point of view combined with Gropius’ experience should produce a fine scheme.’ This anglicization of Gropius’s Bauhaus ideas was a canny move and the scheme was given approval – unlike many modernist projects of the period. However the company was unable to raise the necessary funds, despite Pritchard’s best efforts, and Isokon 3 remained unbuilt.

CFP Deadline Extended

Jane and Max on beach in N Wales001


Thanks for your great response to the call for papers.

We have received a few late entries this week, so if you’ve missed the 2nd June deadline but would like to submit a proposal, please send in your abstract by the 9th of June and we’ll add it to the pile… Thanks!

Notifications will be still sent out by mid-June, with details of speakers and a conference programme to follow.