Thursday, 25 October 2012

Chamberlin, Powell and Bon: The Return of the Repressed - Part 3

This is a part 3 of my blog on Owen Hatherley's comments on the Brutalist period at the University of Leeds from A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain. Please click here for part 1 and part 2. For those of you who have already read part 2, I am taking a look at the same paragraph again, however this time I am looking at Hatherley's reference to the halls of residence in the paragraph below:

In recent years the University filled the whole space with such a quantity of street furniture, foliage and inelegant public art that you can almost ignore the building. meanwhile the concrete - sculptural, shuttered stuff similar to that used in Chamberlin, Powell and Bon's hugely successful Barbican complex in London - was painted in estate-agent magnolia, and the halls of residence are being demolished, it being easier to house students in the barracks provided by the likes of Unite.

While the first image in my blog shows the Henry Price Halls of Residence, which borders Clarendon Road and the university cemetery, the actual halls that Hatherley refers to - The Charles Morris Halls of Residence - has now been demolished. Here is a photo of how they used to look (© Betty Longbottom):

What is interesting here is that the recently completed halls replacing the one mentioned above still carries the same name. The 'new' Charles Morris Hall halls of residence opened in 2010, replacing the original ones dating back to 1963. The original halls was made up of three separate houses: Whetton, Dobree and Mary Ogilvie House. In 2007 the old Charles Morris Hall was not considered fit for purpose and proposals for its demolition were drawn up. The demise and semi-resurrection of these halls could be seen as both an attempt to move beyond the modernist ideas of a past university, by creating a new halls that is better suited to student living. But, also, by keeping the name the same, we could consider this to be a return of the repressed in the sense that the university has been unable to totally move on to the new project that is required of it: the past repressed self continues its attempt to be acknowledged and seeks avenues that enable it to be gratified in the present. The Charles Morris Hall cannot shake off its 1960s self, and therefore reappears as a postmodern 'noughties' version of itself.

Campus Blogs and History:
The University of Leeds: A Very Short History
The Pigeon Feather Dérive
Schizoanalysing the University Campus

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