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Ian Nairn: inspired by Newcastle (Thomas Sharp Lecture)

Gillian Darley, writer, broadcaster and prize-winning architectural journalist

Date/Time: 18th October 2012

Ian Nairn (1930­–1983) was a maverick with a passion for place who, as an inspired topographer, celebrated fine architecture. In this talk, Gillian Darley concentrates on Nairn’s love of Newcastle upon Tyne. Nairn returned many times to the city, noting the changes taking place in the 1960s and ’70s and berating those he held responsible for failures, yet also giving praise where it was due (and, we might think now, even where it wasn’t). Nairn had joined the Architectural Review in 1954 and his first contribution was a review of Thomas Sharp’s book on Oxford. Soon after, his polemic on ‘sprawl’ (or ‘subtopia’) was published as the title Outrage. Nairn went on to work for the BBC, wrote several books and was an architectural correspondent for the Telegraph, the Observer and the Sunday Times. This lecture concentrated on Nairn’s voice and opinions, set against other contemporary responses.

A video of this lecture is also available.