Twentieth Century Society : Ryder and Yates

The Twentieth Century Society edge

From the Journals of
Twentieth Century Society

Twentieth Century Architects is a new series of MONOGRAPHS published by
Twentieth Century Society, RIBA and English Heritage. The first two books (Powell & Moya by Kenneth Powell, and Ryder and Yates by Rutter Carroll) have been well received and are available at a discount via the Society’s website. We asked a selection of architects and designers for their responses to the stories the books tell about post-war British modernism.

Cyril Winskell is a consultant architect with a particular interest in the conservation of Modern buildings:

Movements in art and architecture have always taken time to reach the North of England. The Grand Tour took centuries; John Dobson brought up Greek Revival a decadee after Lord Elgin imported the Parthenon marbles; Georgian terraces were being built in the early Victorian period. So it was that, in the late 1940's, when the school of Architecture at Kings College, Newcastle upon Tyne was teaching the worthiness of Lutyens, Asplund and Frank Lloyd Wright (with a nod towards Gropius and Aalto), two young men arrived in Newcastle with tablets of stone (or perhaps stencilled tracing paper) from the atelier of Le Corbusier.

Gordon Ryder was to have taught in the school, but instead he practised with Peter Yates and the rest is history: they and their successors carried on the Modern movement at a time when the rest of country was descending into post-modernism and worse. Ryder and Yates and Powell & Moya show striking similarities: both partnerships had an architect-artist and the practices drew no distinction between the disciplines. They never published their credo, they simply performed it. The approach that informed their designs never wavered.

John Allan, Director of Avanti Architects:

Ryder and Yates were Lubetkin's sole professional heirs - a legacy mutually recognised - and their work is a compelling reminder of Lubetkin's lesson that the poetic and the rational were inextricable impulses in modern architecture's original vision. The subsequent pursuit of soulless technophilia on the one hand or self-indulgent rhetoric on the other shows the devastating cost of neglecting that lesson.

Jon Jo McNamara, Regional Head of RIBA North East:

The Ryder and Yates book provides an insight into how a north eastern architectural practice embedded the modernist movement across the North East and changed the face of one of Britain's most architecturally conservative regions. Both books show how the international modernist movement gripped the region and shaped its' appearance for future generations. The work of Ryder and Yates throughout the post-war period was inspirational, and the Twentieth Century Architects series, by focusing on this period and this practice in particular, demonstrates the importance of the modernist movement and its contribution to our region and our nation's architectural progression.

Margaret Howell is a clothes designer with an interest in postwar British design:

Ryder and Yates made tremendous buildings. Look at Yates' landscape paintings - strong, almost landscape shapes, boldly coloured: how much did his artists eye influence the dynamic, sculptural forms they built? If they worked in London rather than their chosen North East, this partnership could have been world renowned.

Jack Pringle, RIBA Immediate Past President and Partner at Pringle Brandon:
These books are important as they record the work of important national, if not international British architects of the twentieth century. They were the salt of the post-war modernist earth, working on housing, hospitals and industrial buildings. Their legacy has been a quiet, very English, modern architecture, often unheralded but loved by those who know of it. Now a new generation of students can trace their journey and admire their work.


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