online: 16 june 2005
modified: 15, 16 june 2005

14 june 2005 unobtrusive generosity

21:20: The Festival Hall, London. It was being built while the South Bank exhibition of the Festival of Britain was being constructed, and then enjoyed, in 1950-1, the year of my first job helping to select the electrical engineering exhibits... and ever since i've experienced good accidents, and even good fortune, each time i've come here, many many times...

including at least 5 visits that provoked digital diary entries:
before a concert and beneath it
'education through art'
in a public space
an interactive exhibition
a rock festival

I'm sitting now in my favourite part of this my favourite modern building - inside the foyer/ballroom and close to those gentle* cantilevered staircases, which seem to me to put people first and all else second. That essential priority is what must surely have been in the mind of Robert Matthew and the other architects** (see also pleasant surprises in hospital)

And now, in this large and yet friendly space (this evening it is almost empty during the concert) i am simply enjoying being here - existing, in a place where one can feel at home, unaware why, because of the unobtrusive care and forethought of its designers. There are few places where that can be experienced. It is my definition of good design... not purely visual, nor imposing, but thoughtful, responsive and humane.

Each step is one foot (12 inches or 30 cm) deep and half a foot (6 inches or 15 cm) high - an angle of 30 degrees. And everything else is, i believe, designed with equal generosity*** (perhaps the finest aim for any piece of architecture).

**Robert Matthew, Leslie Martin, Peter Moro, and other members of the Architect's Department of the London County Council. They were chosen by Hugh Casson (the commissioning architect) for being both young (below 45) and committed to the modern movement in architecture.

***I understand that generosity was one of the conscious aims recommended by Cedric Price in his teaching at the Architectural Association, London. I am saddened to learn that he died in 2003.

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

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