Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
Ulrike Weber
The advantage of a trip abroad. The emergence of architectural Modernism
17 January 2013

Green.park.tube.london.arpAbstract: English Modernism has been neglected for a long time. It is only recently that researchers developed an interest in that field. London’s Underground tube stations of the interwar period are one of the earliest examples, which demonstrate one kind of development of Modernism. In Interwar Britain the leading figure at the London Underground Group was Frank Pick (1878-1941). In the same time he was involved in a small organisation, called the Design and Industries Association (DIA). Pick adopted the theoretical background laid by the DIA for his commercial aims and carried it out step by step. He commissioned an external architect Charles Holden (1875-1960) together they developed a new architectural style for the London Transport system. Primarily this style was meant as a corporate identity for the London Underground Group. But because both Pick and Holden were involved in the DIA it should act as an example of an architectural identity for London as a whole city and by 1930 was eventually changed to an architectural idiom of the British nation. Therefore the stations of the Piccadilly Line can be seen as Pick’s development of a national architecture. But since European developments had played such a huge role it became a European style and, compared with American architecture, even international. Nevertheless the Underground architecture stands for the importance of the DIA, the strong influence that Pick and the world of commerce has on the architectural development of the interwar period and lastly, for architectural developments in the context of national identity.


Biography: Dr. des. Weber studied art history at the Technical University Berlin and archaeology at Humboldt University of Berlin. She graduated in 2004 in medieval architectural history. She undertook a course in Digital Art History in Munich between 2005 and 2007 and has received DAAD scholarships for research stays in London. She is a freelance art historian and has attended numerous conferences and written articles and reviews including those for the German architectural magazine, Bauwelt. Since 2009 she has been an assistant professor at Technical University Kaiserslautern in the Department of Architecture. She received her Ph.D. from the Technical University Berlin in 2012 with the thesis ‘Frank Pick, Charles Holden and the DIA: the significance of cultural transfer in English Modernism’.

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