York’s modern architecture focuses on 20th century-inspired tourist guide’s new book
But for architect John Brooke Fieldhouse, it’s the more modern – and often unsung – treasures of York’s skyline that spark the most intrigue.
And those pockets of modern architecture with their own stories to tell are now marked by a new book designed to capture the attention of residents and visitors alike.
It’s the mishmash nature of York’s architecture that inspires Mr Brooke Fieldhouse, 70, himself a former Bootham School pupil.
“One era or era is linked to another by a kind of invisible glue. Buildings are not library books, you can’t put them on different shelves, they have to co-exist,” he says.
“For example, if you stand in the northeast part of the museum gardens, you can see six different eras and architectural styles at the same time.
Feature photo: Remnant of a bygone era of lead mining on Grassington Moor
Key elements of the city center that marry old and new include the Royal Theater, which combines an 18th-century auditorium with a modern foyer that opened in 2016 as part of a major renovation project .
Mr Brooke Fieldhouse runs city center tours where he also shows visitors the City Screen cinema, which is partly housed in the former offices of the Yorkshire Herald just off Coney Street, York’s main shopping thoroughfare.
Although it was inspired by many of the great design thinkers associated with York – including Lord Esher, whose report from over 50 years ago provided a blueprint for today’s heavily pedestrianized center – M Brooke Fieldhouse is somewhat pessimistic about the future of the city’s landscape, particularly the impacts of climate change.
He says: “My book shows many examples of ‘intervention’ – basically adding and taking away, with an emphasis on what people now call ‘redirection’, but there are many other interesting ways of to advance.
“Many architects around the world are now looking at the need to drastically reduce global warming. York has a tradition of conservation, preservation and restoration. This alone is not good enough.
“It’s just not possible for a city to stand still, it either grows or regresses, that’s all. Jelly preservation is not on the menu.
“My biggest fear is that York will not just become a place where you go to discover the past, but that it will become a place that has been relegated to the past, stuck, somewhere at the end of the 20th century.”
Architecture York: Twentieth Century Plus is available now.