Live Project Archive 1956-65

archive 1965 spread

The recent move to our new building at Eastside got many of the academics transferring a considerable amount of old documents from the previous campus. One of more interesting ones we came across was the collection of the School’s minutes from the Advisory Committee between April 1956 – Oct 1965.

Going through the minutes, meticulously typed up on a typewriter and glue down into the archive book, is a revealing insight into the manner in which the school was run at the time, as well as the language used – which has to be said is surprisingly informal and witty for an official document.

What was more pertinent to our interest was the inclusion of ‘Live Projects’ as a section of each meeting agenda.  Recent research from Queen’s University Phd student, James Benedict Brown already highlighted the Birmingham School of architecture as one of the first schools to use live projects as an established pedagogic method. This document reveals the extent of the live project curriculum with the frequency and importance the minutes indicate.

As an initial exercise, a list of all the projects highlighted have been transcribed in the hope to follow as many of these up in due course and find out whether they are still in existence/refurbished/demolished and to investigate the process in which the projects were carried out.

We’d be delighted to know if visitors to the website have information regarding any of the projects below. Please send a comment or email us directly. Co.Lab will develop an updated list once we have more details.

  • 1954-55 School Report: Duddeston & Nechells ex-Serviceman’s Club, cost £9405, designed by 5th year students. Coventry Tile Hill Scheme 1, cost £40,830, designed by 5th year students. scheme 2, cost £20,000, designed by 4th year students.
  • Meeting Minutes 9 Apr 1956: Coventry No.1 scheme featured on ITV on Easter Day. Stonehouse Gang Group  Boys’ Club Headquarters, Selly Oak, cost £7000, designed by 3rd year students.
  • Meeting Minutes 9 Apr 1956: Pathology Laboratory – Birmingham Regional Hospital, Highcroft Hall, Erdington, cost £7500, designed by 3rd year students.
  • Meeting Minutes 3 Apr 1957: Housing for the City of Birmingham (no further details) / next project was a small Nurses’ Home for Leamington Spa for the Regional Hospital (no further details).
  • 1958-59 School Report: 1st year students spend 15 days at Brooklyn Technical College carrying out simple building operations. 2nd year studentsn spend 3 weeks carrying out a building conglomerate.
  • 1959-60 School Report: Brooklyn Technical College conglomerate still in progress. The report suggests the introduction of a Building Conglomerate for the 1959-60 session, consisting of timber, concrete and aluminium framing  with external brick timber, aluminium and steel.
  • Two terraces of six houses have been completed, Water Orton (ref in subsequent report), designed by 3rd year students.
  • 1960-61  School Report: Brooklyn Technical College conglomerate – traditional construction, built by 1st & 2nd year students.
  • 1960-61 School Report: Site work commenced on Holly Bank Farm Estate, King’s Heath for 27 dwellings and 5 garages.
  • 1960-61 School Report: Upper School Conglomerate – framed structure, with donations from suppliers and contractors alongside construction lectures.
  • Meeting Minutes 1 May 1962: four projects carried out; a) Cannon Hill Theatre, THeatre for 250 for Cannon Hill Trust, Midland Arts Centre; b) Student Hostel, Bristol Road; c) Housing scheme for Annol Ltd at Norton Canes, Brownhills, designed by 3rd year students; d) Refurbishment scheme, Bradford St, Walsall, designed by 2nd year students.
  • 1961-62 School Report: Live project note ‘the year 3 practical building is being discontinued. It may be replaced later on in a different form.’
  • Meeting Minutes 22 March 1963: a) refurbishing scheme at Walsall; b) housing scheme for Annol Builders, Brownhills; c) planning of the Cannon Hill Theatre. (continued from previous academic session).
  • 1962-63 School Report: The refurbishment of Bradford Street, Walsall was due to be opened in early summer of that year.
  • Meeting Minutes 8 May 1964: the live project initiative was referenced in the report of the Visiting Board of the RIBA. The Bradford St scheme was completed in October 1963.
  • 1963-64 School Report: Work on Cannon Hill Theatre continues. Year 3 students are reorganised in three groups working concurrently on projects for 1) Quinton Library, City of Birmingham; 2) Housing for the city of Coventry; 3) University of Birmingham New Health Centre.
  • 1964-65 School Report: flats & maisonettes, Coventry Corporation; Branch Library, Quinton; University Health Centre; Small theatre, Cannon Hill Park; Day Hopsital, Selly Oak, Occupational Therapy Unit, Burton Rd Dudley; Old People’s centre, Sutton Coldfield.

– End of transcription.

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