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BBC Four to run season on architecture

BBC Four to run season on architecture
Pippa Considine
04 February 2014

BBC Four is to run a season called Nation Builders, exploring the world’s best architecture, with a series that reveals Britain’s global leadership in the evolution of high tech architecture, another series on the history and influence of brutalist design and a single film on the influence of Ian Nairn.

The Brits Who Built The Modern World, from Oxford Film and Television, is a three-part series, in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), which aims to tell the definitive story of five of the most successful and globally recognised British architects: Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael Hopkins and Terry Farrell.

The series will give insight into how their youthful dreams of building a better world turned architecture into one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports, and will feature exclusive interviews with the five men and their collaborators.

The Brits Who Built The Modern World reveals the stories behind some of their most iconic creations, in Britain and across the world. Among them: the Pompidou Centre, Lloyd’s of London, ‘the Gherkin’, Beijing Airport, MI6’s headquarters and the London Olympic Velodrome - all of which, along with many others, have been freshly filmed for this series.

The series is produced with support from the Open University and has been produced in partnership with a Royal Institute of British Architects exhibition.

The programme is executive produced by Nick Kent and series produced and directed by Peter Sweasey from OFTV. Greg Sanderson is the executive producer for the BBC

Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry consists of two one-hour films, executive produced by Franny Moyle, with Jonathan Meades delivering a distinctive essay on the story of brutalist architecture across Europe.

In homage to a style that he sees as brave and bold and at times sublime, Meades traces its precursors to the martial architecture of WW2, the Victorian edifices described as Modern Gothic, as well as the baroque visions created by John Vanbrugh. Celebrating the influence of Le Corbusier’s post-war work, Meades asserts that modernist buildings, often maligned, are instead monuments to optimism and grandeur. The film draws on extraordinary buildings from all over Europe.

The Outrage of Ian Nairn: The Man Who Fought The Planners is a single film which will look back at Ian Nairn, who in the 1950s, was part of a new breed of Angry Young Men. Aged just 25 and fresh out of the RAF, he burst onto the architectural scene with Outrage, a blistering attack on the soulless destruction of Britain by shoddy post-war planning. Published in the Architectural Review in June 1955, it led to the formation of the Civic Trust, whose remit was to tackle the “subtopian” eyesores Nairn had exposed.

Over the next two decades, he became a tireless and passionate campaigner, both in print and on the BBC, his appearances on television were angry and emotional.

Close colleagues, such as Nairn’s editor on The Sunday Times and a raft of admirers, including Jonathan Meades, Jonathan Glancey, Kieran Long, Ian Jack, David McKie and Gillian Darley (authors of Ian Nairn: Words in Place) pay tribute.

The Outrage of Ian Nairn
is executive produced by Basil Comely and the series producer is Kate Misrahi.

Online, Janet Street-Porter (a former student of the Architectural Association School of Architecture and Associate Member of RIBA) will curate post war architecture highlights from the BBC archive.

Cassian Harrison, editor for BBC Four, says: “Architecture remains one of Britain's most influential exports, and yet it’s left us with a landscape that some think has been ravaged with carbuncles and concrete. This season will be a fascinating opportunity for BBC Four to explore the work of some of our most renowned architects in a unique season of programmes which explores the history and inspiration behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings, but also celebrates some of architecture’s less graceful creations.”

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