Reprinted from Newsletter 124, dated 2007 November

Modern architects 60 years on

Stephanie Morland

A modern building situated among grass and trees.

One of the modern Hepworth houses in Wick Hollow, seen from across the coombe.

CIAM, Docomomo, Mars — What are these organizations? Who are they for?

They’re all about architecture, and who it’s for and what it can and should do for us. They’re all involved with the language of architecture to achieve a physical environment enriching for us all, through such means as recording, conservation and promotion of ideas, methods of building construction and so on, around the world.

CIAM is the Congrès International d’Architecture Moderne. Docomomo stands for Documentation and Conservation of Modern-Movement Buildings and Sites. And Mars is the Modern Architecture Research group. The first two are international organizations with active UK branches. CIAM was founded in 1928, Docomomo in 1989.

In September I went to a 60th-anniversary celebration of CIAM’s sixth congress, the first postwar congress, to which architects and planners came from all over the world, to develop and record their contribution to rebuilding it. Le Corbusier was one of them, among all the architects well known to us then.

And where did they all converge in September 1947? At Bridgwater Arts Centre, of course — where else? The “class photo”, 100 or so of them, was taken in the Bristol Aeroplane Company factory — which, appropriately, was then producing aluminium temporary housing. The arts centre was hardly big enough for the group.

And where was our 60th-anniversary gathering? At the same arts centre, of course!

As conservation is involved, of modern architecture yes, I thought this might still interest our Conservation Society. We have at least two examples of modern architecture in Glastonbury: the “Bauhaus” building on the Morlands site, dating from the early 1930s, and the houses designed by Jack Hepworth in the 1960s round the top of Bushy Coombe.

His impressive, and modern, warehouse building for Morlands, near the surviving “Bauhaus” building, was unfortunately demolished in 2005.