We proceed our high-tech architecture series with a profile of Michael and Patty Hopkins, who designed one of many motion’s most pragmatic buildings – Hopkins House – and went on to develop historicist high-tech structure.
High-tech architecture, a type that emerged within the UK within the late 1960s and noticed the expression of structural components, had many contradictions.
It usually merged structural rationally with exaggerated particulars or mixed the bespoke with mass-produced societal options. Nonetheless, it discovered a few of its most paradoxical manifestations within the later work of Hopkins Architects, the creators of what some termed “historicist high-tech”, or “high-tech brick and stone”.
Earlier than creating the work that made them one thing of the misfits of the motion, Michael and Patty Hopkins (née Wainwright) adopted a textbook British high-tech trajectory.
Each studied at London’s Architectural Association, thought of the birthplace of the type together with Regent Road Polytechnic, with tutors resembling Cedric Worth, Bob Maxwell and Peter Smithson and heavyweights of business design resembling Buckminster Fuller and Charles and Ray Eames looming giant.
Each, as soon as they’d graduated, frolicked working within the workplaces of what was then Foster Associates (now Foster + Partners): Michael Hopkins as mission architect on the Willis Building in Ipswich, and Patty Hopkins on the Pond Home extension in Hampstead.
So when it got here to establishing their very own workplace in 1976 Patty and Michael Hopkins had been well-versed on this new type and able to take it in their very own course. They did soto dramatic impact of their first mission for their very own house and studio: Hopkins House in Hampstead.
Reminiscent each of the Eames House in Santa Monica and the Pond Home that Patty had labored on close by, the Hopkins Home was a translation of the commercial classes that the duo had learnt whereas working Foster into the world of the home. It demonstrated that high-tech was way over simply the structure of workplaces and business.
Collaborating with engineer Antony Hunt – a key determine in establishing the reputations of many high-tech architects – the construction is an extremely stripped-back, modular framework of mass-produced parts. The minimal and open residing areas, enlivened with pops of blue color, are utterly uncovered to the skin save for units of slim Venetian blinds.
So pragmatic was its method that critic Colin Davis described how the mission nearly “designed itself”, and Fuller was suitably impressed when he visited – allegedly asking his trademark query of how a lot it weighed.
One other deft demonstration of the Hopkins’ grasp of high-tech got here shortly after on the Greene King Brewery. This time the mission that was totally about business, creating an expressive shed of metal and glass. With these robust statements of the Hopkins Architects’ architectural method, purchasers quickly took discover, and true to high-tech’s preoccupation with standardisation and industrial course of, a fee quickly got here for not solely a constructing, however a complete constructing system.
Nigel Dale, a former structure scholar who had moved into industrial manufacturing, had seen the architectural type rising in Britain and famous its sensible, and economically enticing, “new manufacturing facility type”. Dale noticed a possibility to revive Britain’s aesthetically bereft industrial estates.
His answer was the Patera Constructing System, commissioned in 1980 with Hopkins Associates because the architect collaborating as soon as extra with Hunt as engineer. It was a high-tech dream fee – a refined, glass and metal system that will be developed as a prototype and subsequently rolled out for large-scale manufacture.
The visible similarities to Foster’s Sainsbury Centre for the Visual Arts (additionally engineered by Hunt some two years earlier), are price noting – with an exterior metallic truss supporting a light-weight shell of cladding incorporating all the vital companies. These sheds had been to be instantly identifiable, possessing design individuality and an architectural signature and but nonetheless being mass-produced and finally ubiquitous.
In some ways, Patera was as high-tech because the Hopkins would ever get – structure as product somewhat than a building of constituent components. As historian Angus Macdonald places it, “[Patera] was an industrial product somewhat than an meeting of the product of business”.
However past a prototype, solely six Patera construction had been ever constructed – two for the observe’s personal workplace and others for a mission for BT in London’s Docklands. Dale dropped the thought, and with out the backing of an formidable developer the system might by no means be rolled out within the numbers required to make it economical to purchasers. This was in spite of everything, a extremely bespoke system that will be too costly to design on a one-off foundation.
Patera’s concepts, nevertheless, weren’t deserted – Hopkins Architects acquired the patents to the system (Hunt was nonetheless sure of its potential). Lots of its classes labored their means into the agency’s subsequent key mission for the high-tech type – the Schlumberger Analysis Centre in Cambridge, the primary section of which was accomplished in 1985.
Schlumberger is notable for its inclusion of what would turn into one thing of a Hopkins trademark – a row of three lantern-like tensile membrane roofs designed by Ove Arup, supported by heroic masts and cables engineered as soon as once more by Hunt. This was now not the high-tech of refined however demure industrial sheds, however one thing extra flamboyant.
Beneath these big-top roof components is a straightforward construction of triangular trusses supported by hole metal columns and infilled with glazing. It is vitally much like Patera however allotting with its extra advanced joints, harking again as a substitute to the easy Hopkins Home or Greene King shed. Schlumberger marked a departure from a extra purist, radical high-tech and a motion in the direction of a brand new language.
This shift grew to become starker in 1984 with the fee for the Mound Stand at Lord’s Cricket floor in London – the primary mission by the observe to cope with a historic city context. Lots of Hopkins Architects initiatives up thus far had handled the contexts of rural areas, industrial estates or leafy London suburbs: right here, the mission was to be centred round Frank Verity’s authentic cricket stand, constructed within the 1890s.
Michael Hopkins was conscious of this odd match, referring to the Mound Stand mission as his “reconciliation with historical past”. The light-weight metal members and tensile material cover acquainted to high-tech are all there, however sitting above and drawing their geometrical association from an arched brick base that was additionally prolonged.
Some ten years into their observe and these doyens of British high-tech had been constructing with load-bearing brick – had Hopkins Architects merely been pigeon-holed too early? After this “reconciliation with historical past”, there was a marked change within the agency’s work because it tried to replicate the city and materials complexity of town whereas remaining true to its radical high-tech roots.
It was an method neatly surmised by the title of a lecture Michael Hopkins delivered a lecture to London’s Royal Society of Arts in 1992: “Know-how Involves City”.
Bracken Home in 1992, Glydenbourne Opera Home in 1994 and Nottingham’s Inland Income Centre in 1995 had been all notable examples of this new high-tech with brick and stone, usually combining heavy, load bearing bases with lighter metal roof buildings.
This isn’t to say that the observe deserted a extra typical high-tech aesthetic totally: New Sq. in 1992 drew on Mies van Der Rohe within the creation of an uncovered metal body infilled with aluminium panels. the Saga Group Headquarters in 1998 drew on a number of the concepts of Schlumberger for the creation of an enormous hangar-like pavilion house.
In 1994, the yr Glyndenbourne accomplished, each Michael and Patty had been collectively awarded the RIBA Royal Gold Medal – solely the third time in its historical past it has been awarded to a male-female partnership.
The height of those makes an attempt to create a sort of high-tech classicism got here with the fee for Westminster Underground Station in 1999 and Portcullis House in 2002. This was a case of taking high-tech roots – on this occasion fairly actually the construction’s assist within the type of Westminster Underground Station’s colossal metal tubes – and trying above floor to develop a type of classical high-tech that will be in dialogue with the neighbouring Homes of Parliament with out sliding into historicism.
This was fairly the stylistic juggling-act. The result’s a mixture of prestressed sandstone pillars from which protrude metal canopies and window containers, the entire straddled by “spider-leg” girders supporting a roof dotted with fourteen air flow chimneys (designed to echo the adjoining Norman Shaw Buildings). Inside, gull-wing concrete arches assist the flooring and a big central courtyard sits beneath an oak-beam cover within the centre of the internal stone piers which switch masses to the underground station under.
The mission was nominated for the Stirling Prize in 2001 and stays a contentious scheme. Shortly after the designs had been revealed, architectural critic Jonathan Glancey claimed it had been conceived within the “Gormenghast college of structure: a night-marish, castelline gadget…”.
“At greatest”, he wrote “it has a sort of cartoon-like character”.
Hopkins Architects’ later work by no means fairly returned to those stylistic extremes – nor needed to cope with such spectacular contexts – however nonetheless oscillates between the 2 poles of Schlumberger and Portcullis Home, sustaining an equal curiosity in each.
Excessive-tech brick proved common with colleges, universities and workplaces, with initiatives on the College of Nottingham, the Pilkington Laboratories at Sherborne College in 2000, a scheme for Northern Arizona College in 2007, Abingdon College in 2015 and the Evelina Kids’s Hospital in 2005.
Trademark Hopkins material canopies popped up above many pavilions or open areas, such because the Buckingham Palace Ticket Workplace in 1995, Goodwood Racecourse in 2001 and Hampshire County Cricket Membership in 2001. And naturally, the idea of a light-weight, shed-like construction proved efficient for the cedar-clad “bowl” of the London 2012 Olympic Velodrome.
Very like high-tech itself, the extra “delicate” type that Hopkins are seen as having pioneered has by no means actually left us – even Foster + Partner’s Stirling-prize winning Bloomberg Headquarters seems to owe one thing to the Hopkins’ specific model of high-tech. In some ways, it’s the essence of British high-tech: radical technological beginnings wrapped up in concepts of custom, the civic and sustainability.
Led by architects Foster, Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael and Patty Hopkins and Renzo Piano, high-tech structure was the final main type of the 20th century and one in every of its most influential.
Images is courtesy of Hopkins Architects until said.