Architectural Advent Day 9:

An excerpt from a 1976 edition of AD (entitled Whatever happened to the systems approach?) containing an interview with Terry Farrell and Nick Grimshaw discussing their work with timber frame housing:

Farrell-Grimshaw interviewed by James Meller (PDF link)

(Sample from cover and image from interview topic)

AD1976_cover mmc

My profession has a short memory. I post this in the same week that my office has been asked to attend meetings to discuss the benefits of standardisation in timber frame housing. This time round everybody has agreed to call it MMC (Modern Methods of Construction). Farrell and Grimshaw understood the systems approach – it’s exactly that: an approach. Yet despite all the urban design debates about context sensitivity, design quality and environmental performance, it seems there are many who are still chasing the idea of a set of standardised products rather than techniques.

Terry Farrell:

This is perhaps too intuitive to be called a system, but it has systematic elements threaded through it. One of the things we are doing at the moment is low-cost housing, for housing societies on many different tiny sites where, right from the outset, we thought we had to get something constant going through these things. What is the constant element? It isn’t the appearance of the buildings, because in England today every little local planning officer is a law unto himself. So we scrapped the appearance side of it and looked for other common threads. Wat we were able to pin it down to, was the frame structure of the building and the internal finishes, but not the external finishes.