“This is a man concerned with change. He’s replanning the world the world we live in.”
The roller-coaster relationship between Birmingham and John Madin tells us a lot about the city’s attitude to architecture, and to its past. Born, raised and trained locally, Madin’s practice became instrumental in the redevelopment of post-war Birmingham and for many years he could take his pick of flagship projects. By 1965, when he was followed by a BBC crew for the half-hour documentary showing tonight, he had already designed the Chamber of Commerce and Post and Mail buildings while Pebble Mill and Central Library were just sketches on the drawing-board. Now all four have been demolished or threatened with demolition and the modernist style which they represent has become a source of fierce debate; between those who feel it is ugly, inhuman and irrelevant, and those who feel that by erasing all trace of it we are in danger of repeating our post-war mistakes.
Tonight writer Catherine O’Flynn (What Was Lost) will introduce John Madin: Architect and talk about how that era influences her own work today. To follow there will be a selection of more recent archive footage relating to Birmingham’s redevelopment, and a chance to discuss some of the issues raised. This event is presented in association with Ikon.