BBC Four celebrates architecture with Nation Builders season

This season will be a fascinating opportunity for BBC Four to explore the work of some of our most renowned architects in a unique season of programmes which explores the history and inspiration behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings..."Cassian Harrison, Editor, BBC Four
Date: 03.02.2014     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 17.54
Category: BBC Four; Factual
Nation Builders, a new BBC Four season, is set to explore the world’s best architecture with a series that reveals Britain’s global leadership in the evolution of ‘high tech’ architecture; another on the history and influence of brutalist design; and a pithy single film on the influence of Ian Nairn.

Online, BBC Four has raided the archives to uncover an exclusive collection of post-war architecture highlights, curated by architecture enthusiast, Janet Street-Porter.

Cassian Harrison, Editor for BBC Four, says: “Architecture remains one of Britain's most influential exports, and yet it’s left us with a landscape that some think has been ravaged with carbuncles and concrete. This season will be a fascinating opportunity for BBC Four to explore the work of some of our most renowned architects in a unique season of programmes which explores the history and inspiration behind some of the world’s most iconic buildings, but also celebrates some of architecture’s less graceful creations.”

The Brits Who Built The Modern World

For the first time, BBC Four - in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) - will tell the definitive story of five of the most successful and globally recognised British architects of all time: Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael Hopkins and Terry Farrell.

The 3x60 series will give insight into how their youthful dreams of building a better world turned architecture into one of Britain’s strongest cultural exports, and will feature exclusive interviews with the five men and their collaborators.

Sir Terry Farrell: “I had no idea I was building MI6. I was told it was a government headquarters; I guessed – wrongly- it was for the Department of the Environment. I put trees on the top specifically because I thought it was for the Department of the Environment.”

Sir Michael Hopkins: “At school I did absolutely no work at all. I bunked off on my bike when other boys were playing games. That’s when I started becoming aware of buildings and enjoying them.”

Lord Foster of Thames Bank: “No new projects were coming in, and we were pretty desperate. We invested heavily in the competition for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank. If we hadn’t won it, I don’t know – maybe we’d have survived, maybe not.”

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw: “I was responding to the times I lived in. Flower power and 'make love not war' and a general feeling of freedom in society – is there a kind of architecture that reflects that?"

Lord Rogers of Riverside: “I remember sitting under a tree on Hampstead Heath, crying, and thinking ‘I’ll never be an architect’.”

The Brits Who Built The Modern World reveals the dramatic stories behind some of their most iconic creations, in Britain and across the world. Among them: the Pompidou Centre, Lloyd’s of London, ‘the Gherkin’, Beijing Airport, MI6’s headquarters and the London Olympic Velodrome - all of which, along with many others, have been freshly filmed for this series.

The series is produced in partnership with the Open University and also produced in partnership with a Royal Institute of British Architects exhibition.

Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry

Across two hours of TV, Jonathan Meades delivers a unique and distinctive essay on the story of brutalist architecture across Europe. In homage to a style that he sees as brave and bold and at times sublime, Meades traces its precursors to the martial architecture of WW2, the once-hated Victorian edifices described as Modern Gothic, as well as the unapologetic baroque visions created by John Vanbrugh. Celebrating the influence of Le Corbusier’s post-war work, Meades asserts that modernist buildings, often maligned, are instead monuments to optimism and grandeur. The film draws on extraordinary buildings from all over Europe in a lavish, and sometimes surreal, visual collage.

The Man Who Fought The Planners: The Story Of Ian Nairn

This 1x60 programme will look back at Ian Nairn, who in the 1950s, was part of a new breed of Angry Young Men. Aged just 25 and fresh out of the RAF, he burst onto the architectural scene with Outrage, a blistering attack on the soulless destruction of Britain by shoddy post-war planning. Published in the influential Architectural Review in June 1955, it led to the formation of The Civic Trust, whose remit was to tackle the “subtopian” eyesores Nairn had so graphically exposed.

Over the next two decades, he became a tireless and passionate campaigner, both in print and on the BBC - his appearances on television were unconventionally and refreshingly raw, angry and emotional.

Close colleagues – such as Nairn’s editor on the Sunday Times and a raft of admirers, including Jonathan Meades, Jonathan Glancey, Kieran Long, Ian Jack, David McKie and Gillian Darley (authors of 'Ian Nairn: Words in Place', pub 2013) pay tribute to a remarkable man who made us look afresh at the world around us.

BBC Four Architecture Collection

bbc.co.uk/bbcfourcollections

Online, Janet Street-Porter (a former student of the Architectural Association School of Architecture and Associate Member of RIBA) will curate post war architecture highlights from the BBC archive.

Architects featured in the archive programmes include Norman Foster, Piers Gough, Terry Farrell, Richard Rogers and Zaha Hadid.

Notes to Editors

The Brits Who Built The Modern World

3x60 - The programme is an Oxford Film and Television Series. Executive produced by Nick Kent and series produced and directed by Peter Sweasey from OFTV. Greg Sanderson is the executive producer for the BBC

Bunkers, Brutalism, Bloodymindedness: Concrete Poetry

2x60 - executive produced by Franny Moyle.

The Man Who Fought The Planners: The Story Of Ian Nairn

1x60 - Executive produced by Basil Comely and the series producer is Kate Misrahi

DS/VAA