67: Timothy Brittain-Catlin


Manage episode 250115827 series 2312064
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Timothy Brittain-Catlin is an architect and Reader in the Kent School of Architecture, and we begin this insightful and informative interview by talking about buildings which elude even architects and how some of us are more image based and others function using words. Timothy also discloses why he thinks the Sat Nav is the work of the devil.
Timothy talks about growing up just within the boundaries of inner London, and the notion of ‘rebuilding’ the past. He has a very vivid memory when it applies to buildings and Timothy reveals how one theme that does tend to repeat in his dreams is that of going back somewhere he once lived, and how this underlies all his work on architecture. We move on to a wider discussion about what dreams are about, and rationalizing the irrational.
His mother was a public relations executive and Timothy recounts the time that the family moved to Scotland, and he talks about having a voice coach during his time in Israel and how image is conveyed through accents. We also learn why he spent the 1990s in Israel.
We talk about the power of music, including ‘Morningtown Ride’ by The Seekers and listening to the Radio 3 midnight news in the 1980s, as well as about why architects don’t tend to be ‘word’ people, and we talk about the eligibility of submitting buildings rather than an article for the University's Research Excellence Framework. We discuss how architectural critiques come from personal experience, and how memories can be falsely remembered. Timothy also asks me whether we can only be nostalgic about shared experiences rather than individual ones.
We move on to the notion of ‘correcting’ the past in the context of architecture, and about the fit, or lack of, between architecture and academia, and the Protestant work ethic. We talk about his family’s religious heritage, his SDP background (his aunt is Baroness [Shirley] Williams, one of the original Gang of Four). He talks about his experience of meeting politicians and why he could never have become a politician himself. I ask Timothy whether Shirley Williams would have wanted to be Leader of the Opposition had she won Stevenage in 1979, and we discuss how Tony Blair was in some respects to the right of the SDP.
Timothy reveals why he doesn’t look back at anything too inquisitively, and he tells us what is ‘the only message worth giving’ and about the disparity in teaching quality sometimes between school and university, and why the style with which one writes doesn’t reflect one’s personality and how writing is a technical skill.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Timothy Brittain-Catlin and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.