This article situates the educational architecture of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew in British West Africa in 1946-56 in the context of late British colonial policy. The analysis extends discursive readings of architecture with contemporary literary texts as aspects of what might be termed the material cultural fabric. These different forms of articulation illuminate the sociocultural dynamic underlying the migration of modernism in the postwar era, and the extent to which the movement affected and was appropriated by British colonial enterprise. It also discloses modernism's simultaneous disruption and reinforcement of the objectives of modernity, among which were the ideological and technical systems of British imperial expansion. On this basis, it is argued that Fry and Drew were constrained in their endeavor to resolve the divergent expectations within modernist theory concerning the application of universal principles to local conditions, and thus also in their aim of initiating a legitimate modern African architecture.


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61 (Sept. 2002), 381-96
63 (March 2004), 32-51
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n. 9
Hitchens, Fry Drew Knight Creamer
n. 2
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n. 7
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n. 7
Tropical Architecture, Fry assessed prefabricated housing units to be a "gift of doubtful value, serving still further to separate them [indigenous Africans] from their upbringing" (26).
he wrote the following memorandum: "Broadly speaking, neither I nor the technical officers in Crown Agents and Colonial PWDs [Public Works Departments] consider that for the average run of government building, including housing, the 'export house' can not compete in cost and efficiency with the local product." Public Record Office, Colonial Office (hereafter P.R.O., CO.), 859/310.
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n. 2
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Fry and Drew, Tropical Architecture, 20
n. 31
Fry and Drew, Tropical Architecture, 201.
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n. 27
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Ibid., 6, 35-38.
Ibid., 16.
W E. Simnett, British Way (London, 1943), 127-28.
New Commonwealth 23, no. 11 (1952), 455
The Nigeria Handbook (Lagos, 1953), 39.
Dictionary of National Biography, vol. 29, 91
n. 22
Elspbeth Huxley and Margery Perham, Race and Politics (London, 1944), 15.
Huxley, Four Guineas, 134, 136
n. 16
Huxley, Four Guineas, 183.
Ibid., 136.
Elspeth Huxley, A New Earth: An Experiment in Colonialism (London, 1960), 9.
Pevsner, introduction, New Buildings, 12
n. 27
Fry's essay, "West Africa," appears on 103-6.
Kwame Nkrumah, Towards Colonial Freedom (London, 1962), 27.
Basil Davidson, Black Star: A View of the Life and Times of Kwame Nkrumah (London, 1989).
n. 55
Edward Said, Orientalism (New York, 1978).
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Gayatri Spivak, A Critique of Postcolonial Reason: Toward a History of the Vanishing Present (Cambridge, Mass., 1999).
Davidson and Adenekan Ademola, eds., The New West Africa: Problems of Independence (London, 1953), 56.
Davidson extended his deconstructive criticism in his capacity as director of the Centre of West African Studies at the University of Birmingham and through a series of books culminating in Africa in Modern History: The Search for a New Society (London, 1978).
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Greene, Heart of the Matter (1948; London, 1954), 7.
Richard Phillips, "Dystopian Space in Colonial Representations and Interventions: Sierra Leone as 'the White Man's Grave,'" Geografiska Annaler. Series B. Human Geography 84B (2002), 3-4, 189-200.
Form G, no. 1, "The Office Building," quoted in Philip Johnson, Mies van der Rohe, 3rd ed. (New York, 1978), 88.
Greene, Heart of the Matter (1948; London, 1954), 84.
Ibid., 227.
Fry, Machine Age, 141
n. 9
"The Modern Movement," Ace. 264, Box 2, folder 3, Fry Papers, R.I.B.A.
Interview, 1986, Acc. 264, Box 1, folder 5, Fry Papers, R.I.B.A.
Architectural Digest 19 (July 1962)
Stefan Muthesuis, The Postwar University: Utopianist Campus and College (New Haven, 2000), esp. 62-64.
Stephen Dobney, ed., Harry Seidler: Selected and Current Works (Mulgrave, Australia, 1997)
Justine Clark and Paul Walker, Looking for the Local: Architecture and the New Zealand Modern (Wellington, 2000)
Harold Kaiman, A History of Canadian Architecture (Toronto, 1994), vol. 2, 797-800.
Progressive Architecture (Dec. 1962), 85.
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