Place: A Story of Modelmaking, Menageries and Paper Rounds - Terry Farrell - Life and Work - Early Years to 1981
Review by Louise Thomas
Place: Terry Farrell, Life and Work, Early years to 1981.
Terry Farell, Lawrence King Publishing, Ltd, 2004, £29.95
Launched at the UDG Conference in Manchester last November,this book tells the story of how Terry Farrell became the person we know today.It is divided into five sections: Childhood, College, America,Practice and 25 Projects, from architecture projects in 1959 to the first projects as Terry Farrell & Partners.
The story starts in Sale,Manchester where Terry was born,follows him and his family to Newcastle and Blackpool, the start of his architectural training back in Newcastle and the University of Pennsylvania,and onto work in London and a curious time at the LCC. However, he describes himself as an ordinary boy -an underachiever academically and a loner socially; yet with the encouragement of teachers and mentors, he developed his appreciation of cities, towns and neighbourhoods,and an unusual drawing style to become a confident and thoughtful designer.
Influential travel scholarships and study tours to Scandinavia,America, Japan,India,and Hong Kong are well documented.He also describes various New Towns,what they were aiming to create and the places they are today with an enthusiasm that doesn ’t seem to have been distorted over the years as fashions change.
What is interesting is that Terry Farrell has always been more of an urban designer than an architect.His early one- off buildings and later spectacular mega-projects mask a deeper and consistent care for how cities work.His role in the UDG and UDAL demonstrate that.
The book is certainly worth reading, but don ’t expect to read it in bed or on the bus or tube, it is too big and heavy, and much more informative than its coffee table format suggests. I had expected glossy full page drawings and photos,but the majority of the illustrations are interleaved with the text as the story unfolds. The subdivision of Terry ’s life story and its ‘product ’is clever,as it is as chronological as an autobiography, but also allows you to dip into the projects as case studies,including some updates on how buildings have been used. In a few instances within this autobiographical structure, it occasionally seems too providential that life has panned out like this so far. But unlike some famous architects ’ biographies, the person described doesn ’t lose his ‘human ’character and appeal as he grows in stature.
(Thisreview was first published in Urban Design Quarterly 94, Spring 2005 and is reproduced with the Editor's kind permission)