Gowan and Siza: Housing and the City
1131 March 2017

gowan bedouin crop

11–31 March 2017
Architectural Association School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

This exhibition offers a close comparative reading of the design process within four housing projects by James Gowan (1923–2015) and Álvaro Siza (b. 1933). Particular reference is made to the specific architectural problems that confronted both architects when addressing the typologies of stacked maisonettes and terraced houses in the decades after 1963. Gowan is represented by his designs for Greenwich and East Hanningfield, and Siza by Bouça, Porto and Vila Viçosa in the Alentejo.

Published to coincide with the exhibition, two free iBooks are available to download from this website, Gowan DMC(SB6) and Siza DMC(SB31).  They are part of a new series of Drawing Books that contribute to the range of Drawing Matter’s publishing experiments designed to make architectural drawings accessible for study, discussion and reference. 

James Gowan, Housing at East Hanningfield, Essex, perspective, DM 2786.4.8 IN SET

James Gowan (1923–2015), from sketchbook:Housing for East Hanningfield, Essex, 1975. Pen and ink with colour pencil on pink index card, mounted in sketchbook. © Estate of the architect.

Siza 7

Álvaro Siza (*1933), Perspective sketch of the Patio of the Bouça Housing Estate in Porto, Portugal, c. 1972. Pencil and ink on paper, 503 × 752 mm. © The architect.

These projects were being developed whilst the Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in the United States was demonised and demolished – a critique that continues in the current discussion on the fate of Alison and Peter Smithson’s 1972 Robin Hood Gardens. By examining the design development of specific projects, the exhibition aims to reconsider the particular problems of public housing design that had started with some of the last large-scale developments of the European welfare state, and strives to understand the poor public reception that they have received as models for inhabitation.

Curated by Ellis Woodman and Manuel Montenegro

A Drawing Matter Collections research project, in collaboration with the Architectural Association