|Curator Anna Douglas asked us to work with her on a small architectural heritage project based around the home she owns in the West Midlands.
The house is one of four modernist single-story terraced houses built in 1960. The plans won the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Ideal Home magazine’s Small House Competition two years previously.
Anna conceived a series of events including a local interest tea party and exhibition, a play written by Vanessa Oakes performed in the house, and open-house days for an interested public.
The broad intention was to collect memories, oral accounts and document-based evidence of the design, building, experience and occupation of the four experimental houses on the West Point estate in Allesley, outside Coventry, in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Covered by national media, the A New Way of Living art and heritage project, was one of the national Heritage Open Day celebrations.
We began work without sight of the brief for the main piece, which was to be a large format folded item. Work was completed piecemeal as required: a few iterations of an A5 leaflet; a large format display for use on-site, to which sponsor identifiers were added as they became involved; a pin badge; a postcard. While this is a less than ideal way of working, the design – a pastiche of the original marketing brochure – retained its integrity in respect of the demands of content and scale.
Throughout, Anna maintained a blog about the project, which included interviews, documents discovered during research, and a calendar of events.
As the project progressed it became clear that the souvenir item would need to be more substantial than origianlly envisaged, and, because of the nature of the content, paginated. We prepared an appropriately architecturally-themed set of layouts to accommodate the various types of content: architect’s drawings, press photographs, advertisements and cuttings; the text narrative and quotes from many interviews.
This project was completed within a small budget and without a clear view of the final content, but the quality of the printed items doesn’t give this away.