The purpose of the series, which consists of over 275 illustrated talks, is to widen the horizons of students of architecture and design, by giving them the opportunity to share the thinking of leading members of the profession worldwide to whom they might not have access.
This is particularly the case of a number of speakers, who continue to have a lasting influence, but have sadly died since being recorded. For example:
- Alison & Peter Smithson (Signs Of Occupancy)
- Cedric Price (Technology Is The Answer But What Was The Question? & Ten Californian Architects)
- Denys Lasdun (Architecture Of Urban Landscape)
- Frank Lloyd Wright (The World’s Greatest Architect)
- James Stirling (Oscillating)
- Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe (I Don’t Want To Be Interesting, I Want To Be Good)
- Maxwell Fry (How Modern Architecture Came To England & Learning From The Tropics)
- Philip Johnson (Now We Have A Style)
- Richard Buckminster Fuller (The Story Of A Quest)
- Serge Chermayeff (Environmental Design Is Our Task)
- Félix Candela (Poetic Structures)
- Frank Newby (Why, Where, What?)
- Konrad Wachsmann (The Art Of Joining)
- Peter Rice (Exploring The Boundaries Of Design)
- Ted Happold (Nature Of Engineering)
The original collection took the form of a series of tape/slide talks, each consisting of a 30 minute audio-cassette and 24 time-coded colour slides. In order to preserve this valuable archive, the audio and the images have been carefully digitised and presented as online presentations.
In addition, the digitised images have been meta-tagged (as per the Dublin Core standard), and now form a searchable online image library for use by students and academics.
The collection was founded in 1979 by Monica Pidgeon (long-time editor of the influential magazine Architectural Design), so that it was possible to hear the actual voices of the designers of buildings and listen to their ideas.
Monica sadly died in 2009 at the age of 95. The Guardian’s obituary can be found here.
Her work of producing new recordings for the website is being continued by Peter Murray. Peter trained as an architect, but later moved into architectural writing and editing. He worked as Technical Editor of Architectural Design under Monica, edited Building Design and the RIBA Journal, before founding Blueprint Magazine.
He is Chairman of the New London Architecture centre, chairman of Wordsearch, a consultancy explaining and promoting architecture, planning and the built environment, and he is Founder Director of the London Festival of Architecture.