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Built for a Better Future:
The Brynmawr Rubber Factory

Victoria Perry
Foreword by Andrew Saint

contents | from the reviews  |  the author  |  bibliographic details

'One of the most extraordinary and romantic projects in the history of British architecture', writes Andrew Saint in his foreword: '... never surely can such a tangle of idealism, effort, sophistication and sheer folly have come together in a building project as in the saga of Brynmawr.'

This is the 'life-story' of a spectacular Modernist icon, covering aspects often neglected in architectural monographs. Designed in 1946-51 by the Architects' Co-Partnership and the engineer Ove Arup, the Brynmawr Rubber Factory was fêted for its idealistic conception and innovative shell-concrete construction. Described by Reyner Banham as 'one of the most impressive interiors in Britain since St Paul's', it has been compared with the work of Le Corbusier and Alvar Aalto. The first post-war building to be listed, it is now, ironically, condemned to demolition as a blight on re-development after a protracted conservation battle.

This engaging story illuminates important issues in the history of recent British architecture, and is rich in interest for all concerned with the role of architecture and conservation in society today.

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  • Foreword by Andrew Saint
  • 'Of its kind a masterpiece'
  • 'The client who wasn't'
  • 'The tenant who was'
  • 'The architects who will be'
  • 'It was all new'
  • 'We were all very proud of that factory'
  • 'A visual scar and an embarrassement'
  • 'Built for a better future'

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'readable and enlightening ... [Perry] has set down with skill what must be one of the strangest stories in the history of construction'.    (AA Files)

'Brynmawr was one of the great icons of postwar Britain... It's surprising that only now has its history been written. Perry has combed through the archives, pictorial and documentary, to produce a fitting memorial...' (Architecture Today)

'excellent ...a story of high ideals as well, alas, as failure. ...this factory is not only important as a piece of architecturebut also as an experiment in social improvement and creating a better society' (The Herald)

 TopBack to catalogue THE AUTHOR
Victoria Perrry
trained as an architect at the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London, where she also did an MSc in the history of modern architecture. Since then she has worked in practice and taught at Kingston University and the Bartlett School.
ISBN 1 873487 04 5 paperback £12.99
96pp., 67 b&w ill., 228 x 204 mm, 1994