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An optional extra: valuing architecture at the Brompton Boilers

McVicar, Mhairi ORCID: 2015. An optional extra: valuing architecture at the Brompton Boilers. Odgers, Juliet, McVicar, Mhairi and Kite, Stephen, eds. Economy and Architecture, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 151-161.

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When the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 recommended the establishment of what would become the Victoria & Albert Museum, the architect Gottfried Semper was initially invited to prepare drawings. Rejecting Semper’s proposal as impractical, Prince Albert, following Joseph Paxton’s acclaimed Crystal Palace, instead pursued a scheme for a temporary iron house. A one page specification from a specialist in iron structures, Charles D. Young & Co, proposed; The cost of the building as above specified, and shown in accompanying drawings, would be about nine thousand eight hundred pounds (£9,800); if, with an architectural front of cast-iron from £1,000 to £1,400 additional, according to design. Architecture was reduced here to a one-line item: an extra to be omitted if costs did not permit. A Commissioners’ Report commended the economy and efficiency of Young’s proposal: in contrast, hostile reviews of the ‘Brompton Boilers’ and contemporary publications by Pugin, Ruskin, Jones and Loos revealed challenges presented by a building culture predicated upon economy. That Caruso St John Architects’ design statement for their 2006 addition to the relocated structure argued the viability of their decorative civic façade in economic terms confirms a continued struggle to quantify the deeply qualitative value of architecture.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Architecture
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NA Architecture
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781138025479
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 09:45

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