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Rachel Van Greuning

MA work

Title of dissertation: Building the Experiment: Modern Design, the Social Health Movement and the ‘Clinic’ in 1930s Britain


This thesis explores Architecture and its relationship to Modernism in 1930s Britain through two specific case studies, to look at the advent of the health centre or ‘clinic’ as a primary treatment healthcare structure in medicine through the architectural design of the Peckham Pioneer Health Centre by Sir Evan Owen Williams, built and designed 1933–5, and the Finsbury Health Centre, built 1935–8 by Berthold Lubetkin.


The intention of this thesis is to look at two of the quite rare early examples of modernism’s specific influence on British architecture through a prolific resource of first and secondary texts that directly address the buildings’ aesthetic significance and paralleling that with the buildings as objects in use, not just beholden. As spaces in which the socialist desires of political and medical radicals could enact social improvement — even perhaps social engineering — through the promotion and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of disease through suggestive architecture, pedagogy, and innovations in lifestyle. This thesis constructs a history of these buildings beyond their iconic façades and significance to medical history that encompasses the multiplicities of the buildings’ functions and receptions — the coalescing of ideology and a sense of place within a constructed form through empirical research and analysis rather than relying on a canonical resource of criticism and visual interpretation.


Info

  • MA Degree

    School

    School of Fine Art

    Programme

    MA History of Design, 2011

  • Title of dissertation: Building the Experiment: Modern Design, the Social Health Movement and the ‘Clinic’ in 1930s Britain


    This thesis explores Architecture and its relationship to Modernism in 1930s Britain through two specific case studies, to look at the advent of the health centre or ‘clinic’ as a primary treatment healthcare structure in medicine through the architectural design of the Peckham Pioneer Health Centre by Sir Evan Owen Williams, built and designed 1933–5, and the Finsbury Health Centre, built 1935–8 by Berthold Lubetkin.


    The intention of this thesis is to look at two of the quite rare early examples of modernism’s specific influence on British architecture through a prolific resource of first and secondary texts that directly address the buildings’ aesthetic significance and paralleling that with the buildings as objects in use, not just beholden. As spaces in which the socialist desires of political and medical radicals could enact social improvement — even perhaps social engineering — through the promotion and maintenance of a healthy lifestyle and the prevention of disease through suggestive architecture, pedagogy, and innovations in lifestyle. This thesis constructs a history of these buildings beyond their iconic façades and significance to medical history that encompasses the multiplicities of the buildings’ functions and receptions — the coalescing of ideology and a sense of place within a constructed form through empirical research and analysis rather than relying on a canonical resource of criticism and visual interpretation.


  • Degrees

  • BA (Hons), History of Art and English, University of York, 2009
  • Awards

  • Winner, Friends of the V&A Museum Studentship Award, 2009-11