Mainstream Modern

Here’s a website that’s worth checking out if you’re in to modernist architecture and design. The research and detail that has gone into this project is, frankly, phenomenal.

It is mostly based around Manchester and the North West, which is a welcome change considering so many architecture blogs, or, should I say, British architecture blogs, focus on “that” London. I have done some work with Manchester Modernist Society and, for their money, Richard Brook, creator of Mainstream Modern, is the guy for information about Modernism, Brutalism and 20th century architecture in the North West. He is the Principal Lecturer for Architecture at the Manchester School of Art, so you can rest assured that he has worthy credentials.

In addition to the thoroughly researched materials, Brook has accompanied each entry with a mixture of archival and personally-taken pictures. You can find out more about the project here, but, in short, he has used archives from RIBA, Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Manchester, among others and with contributions from societies including the 20th Century Society, and the associated academic institutions.

Pictures were shot using the Samsung 35mm compact camera, Nikon F60 35mm SLR, Sony F707 digital compact, Canon 5D, Ricog G200, Panasonic GH2, Minolta SR1 35mm, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5S – I like knowing what cameras people use, and you may too.

The website is split into building categories (commercial, educational, residential, religious, etc), decade built, location, and architect. This makes it far easier to use than the English Heritage website. And useful. There is even geotagging on each building. For those who like looking at maps, here is an interactive map that the Manchester Modernist Society are developing (and which I have helped do some research for).

So far there are 108 collected archives on the website, and its content is being ever-populated. The website also has a life in manuscript form which will hopefully one day make its way to a coffee table near you. In the meantime, the website it quite sufficient, and I am in favour of the more dynamic capabilities that websites offer.

Whether you are a fan of Modernist architecture or not – and it seems that on the whole people tend towards the ‘not’, although those who are very much are – it is worth checking out the project due to its scale. Plus, learning is fun.

All images © Richard Brook | Mainstream Modern Go on the website to find out the details (and for the craic).


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