critical reflections
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critical reflections

Granary, Grimentz, Valais, Switzerland, 16th century © Thomas Deckker 2023
Was Vitruvius Right?
2024

Aurelio Galfetti: Castelgrande, Bellinzona 1986 © Thomas Deckker 1996
Two Castles in Switzerland
2023

Nouveau plan de la ville de Paris 1828 © David Rumsey Maps
The Arcades Project
2023

Derelict Building, Kings Cross photo © Thomas Deckker 1988
Henri Labrouste and the construction of mills
2023

Claude-Nicolas Ledoux: Barrière St Martin, Paris (1785-1790) from Daniel Ramée: C.N. Ledoux, l'architecture (Paris 1847)
The Barrière de la Villette: the Sublime and the Beautiful
2022

Vauban: Neuf Brisach
Neuf Brisach: The Art of War
2022

Lucio Costa: Competition sketch for the Esplanada dos Minstérios, Brasília 1956
Did Lucio Costa know the Queen Mother?
2022

Vaux-le-Vicomte, Entrance Court, engraving by Israel Sylvestre
Vaux-le-Vicomte: Architecture and Astronomy
2022

Edzell Castle, Ground Floor Plan, from MacGibbon and Ross: The Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland
Edzell Castle: Architecture and Treatises in Late 16th Century Scotland
2022

Capability Brown: Plan for Petworth Park from Dorothy Stroud: Capabilty Brown
The Upperton Monument, Petworth
2022

Isamu Noguchi: maquette for Riverside Drive c. 1961
Isamu Noguchi: useless architecture
2022

Jürgen Joedicke: Architecture since 1945: sources and directions (London: Pall Mall Press 1969)
Gottfried Böhm: master of concrete
2021

Thomas Deckker Architect: temporary truck stop, M20
Lorry Drivers are human, too
2021

Marc-Antoine Laugier: Essai sur l'Architecture
John Onians: ‘Architecture, Metaphor and the Mind’
2021

Sir John Vanbrugh: Seaton Delaval, Northumberland (1720–28) from Colen Campbell: Vitruvius Britannicus vol 3 (1725)
Seaton Delaval: the aesthetic castle
2021

Jules Hardouin-Mansart: Les Invalides, Paris (1676) Section showing the double dome
The Temple of Apollo at Stourhead: Architecture and Astronomy
2021

Eric de Maré: Fishermen’s huts, Hastings (1956) © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Eric de Maré: The Extraordinary Aesthetics of the Ordinary
2021

Iannis Xenakis: score for Syrmos, for string orchestra (1959) © Editions Salabert E. A. S. 17516
Iannis Xenakis: Music, Architecture and War
2021

United Visual Artists: Etymologies 2017 © United Visual Artists
United Visual Artists
2020

Margaret Howell: Campaign 2020 © Margaret Howell
Margaret Howell
2020

Palaces of Darius and Xerxes, Persepolis, Iran
The Plans of Antiquity
2020

Cristobal Balenciaga: Skirt Suit, 1964 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Cristobal Balenciaga
2020

Mathias Goeritz: La serpiente de El Eco, 1953 © Sothebys
Mathias Goeritz: 'Emotional Architecture'
2020

Richard Serra: Weight and Measure 1992 © Richard Serra
Weight and Measure
2020

Tony Smith: Playround, 1962 © Tony Smith Estate
Tony Smith: Art and Experience
2020

Highway Construction © Caterpillar Archives
Landscape and Infrastructure
2020

Frank Gohlke: Lightning Flash, Lamesa, Texas © Frank Gohlke
Grain Elevators
2020

Eric de Maré: Fishermen’s huts, Hastings (1956) © Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Eric de Maré: Fishermen’s huts, Hastings (1956)
© Architectural Press Archive / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Eric de Maré: The Extraordinary Aesthetics of the Ordinary

This photograph, of huts for drying fishermen’s nets on the beach at Hastings, is one of the most intriguing and evocative of Eric de Maré's work. Eric de Maré (1910-2002) was one of the great photographers of architecture and landscape working in Britain in the years after WWII, with his contemporary Edwin Smith (1912-71) and the later Fay Godwin (1931-2005). This photograph exemplifies the strength of his work: the discovery and portrayal of an extraordinary aesthetic in the ordinary.

Eric de Maré's most influential publication was, without doubt, the special issue of the Architectural Review on 'The Functional Tradition' in 1957, with J. M. Richards, later published in a book The Functional Tradition in Early Industrial Buildings (1958). He recorded industrial architecture - particularly canals and canal-side warehouses - at a particular moment when these buildings had fallen out of use and were subject to wholesale demolition, but had not yet acquired iconic status either from the heritage administration or from architects. His exploratory expeditions and publications - including The Canals of England in 1950 and The Bridges of Britain in 1954 - promoted their emergence from the obscurity and anonymity of working industry into critical appreciation as architecture.

The critical appreciation by architects at the time was not disinterested, of course. Eric de Maré was taken up by several distinct and mutually antagonistic architecture groups:
I think that this photograph was especially evocative because it showed the extraordinary aesthetic - other of his photographs show that these huts were exceptional, but not unique - of ordinary industrial buildings. The spatial relationship of the two women reinforces the spatial relationship of the huts. The diagonal composition draws the eye into the photograph and reinforces the sense of three-dimensional forms in space. De Maré often used diagonal composition, and always to express the space and form or to make an often surrealist point. I see a link in this aesthetic sensibility to the 'Group of Three Magic Stones' (1973) or 'Three Personages' (1965) by Barbara Hepworth, in Kettles Yard, Cambridge, or my own study of Rhodes Welding.

The definitive work on de Maré must be Eric de Maré: Photographer; Builder with Light by Andrew Higgott (London: Architectural Association 1990), sadly out of print. The only book still in print seems to be Eric de Maré: images from the Photographs Collection of the Royal Institute of British Architects by Robert Elwall (London: RIBA Publications 2000). As Robert Elwall was curator of the Photography Collection, and an important curator and historian, his work is not second-best by any means.

A substantial collection of de Maré's photographs is held at the RIBA: