Benincasa-Sharman, Caterina Amanda (2015) Architectural Nous: How York Wrote its Identity Through Architecture During the 1951 Festival of Britain. In: Reading Architecture Across the Arts and Humanities, 5th - 6th December 2015, University Stirling. (Unpublished)

Architectural nous: How York wrote their identity through architecture, during the 1951 Festival of Britain.
York Festival was three years in the planning and held over two weeks in June 1951 as the city’s contribution to the nationwide call to celebrate the 1951 Festival of Britain.
This paper looks at how York’s Festival Committee and Corporation actively used architecture to articulate ideas about its identity of place. The study will argue that York used the built environment in a number of ways during its Festival; it celebrated its ancient architectural heritage as a backdrop for events, used the Festival as a catalyst to speed up the restoration of one Georgian and one Victorian building and commissioned two sets of housing stock for its residents, which were in keeping with surrounding Georgian architecture in one case and gave a nod to Modernism in the other.
York’s Festival Director, Keith Thompson planned to attract ‘five or more of the world’s leading architects’ to play a part in the Festival. He recognised the value of York’s ancient buildings but was keen to dispel the idea that York was a city stuck in ‘951’, so this paper uses minutes, planning notes and newspaper reports from the period 1948-1951 to show that York’s use of and attitude towards architecture in their Festival of Britain celebrations was centred around the present at the very least, but also to its future.

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