Alison and Peter Smithson  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

English architects Alison Smithson (1928-1993) and Peter Smithson (18 September 1923-3 March 2003) together formed an architectural partnership, and are often associated with the Brutalist style.

Peter was born in Stockton-on-Tees in North-East England, and Alison was born in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. While studying architecture at Durham University, they met, and married in 1949. Together, they joined the architecture department of the London County Council before establishing their own partnership in 1950.

Work

They first came to prominence with Hunstanton School which used some of the language of high modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe but in a stripped back way, with rough finishes and deliberate lack of refinement. This building has not worked well in use and suffered a series of changes. They are arguably among the leaders of the British school of New Brutalism. They were associated with Team X and its 1953 revolt against old Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) philosophies of high modernism.

Among their early contributions were "streets in the sky" in which traffic and pedestrian circulation were rigorously separated, a theme popular in the 1960s. They were members of the Independent Group participating in the 1953 Parallel of Life and Art exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts and This Is Tomorrow in 1956. Throughout their career they published their work energetically, including their several unbuilt schemes, giving them a profile, at least among other architects, out of proportion to their relatively modest output.

Built projects

Their built projects include:

Unfortunately, Robin Hood Gardens suffered from high costs associated with the system selected, poor finish and high levels of crime, all of which undermined the architects' vision of "streets in the sky" and their architectural reputation. With the exception of their work at Bath, they designed no further public buildings in Britain, relying instead mainly on private overseas commissions and Peter Smithson’s writing and teaching (he was a visiting professor at Bath from 1978 to 1990, and also a unit master at the Architectural Association School of Architecture).

Unbuilt proposals

Their unbuilt schemes Include:




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