A season of Architecture on BBC Four this May

Going Going Gone: Nick Broomfield’s Disappearing Britain
2 x 60 mins
, TBC date week commencing 7th May 2016

Two iconic British buildings are threatened with demolition and the intrepid Nick Broomfield is on the case. In this pair of documentaries Going Going Gone, Broomfield profiles the Wellington Rooms in Liverpool and the Coal Exchange in Cardiff.

Designed by Edmund Aiken in 1815 of the Greek Classical revival school, the Wellington Rooms began life as a gentleman’s club and quickly established itself as the hub of fashionable Liverpool. In later years, it became an important gathering place for the Irish community.

The Coal Exchange, designed by Edwin Seward in 1883, housed one of the world’s great deal-making markets back when Cardiff was a prime commercial centre. Both buildings have fallen on hard times and their fates remain up in the air.

Dan Cruickshank: At Home with the British
3x 60 mins, TBC date week commencing 14th May 2016

Presented by Dan Cruickshank and produced in partnership with the Royal Institute of British Architects, this BBC Four series takes an up-close-and-personal look at the place we are all familiar with but rarely stop to question – our home. Why are those stairs at that angle? Why is the kitchen at the back of the house? Why are some houses made of wattle and daub, and some of brick? And why do some live in a terrace and some in a flat? How did the British home end up looking the way it does – and why?

This series reveals the men, women and sweeping history that shaped the houses that people in Britain live in. Each film will be sited in a particular location which embodies a building type, whether it’s the terraces of the industrial North in Toxteth Liverpool,  the high-rise towers of Bow East London, or the cottages of rural Stoneleigh in Warwickshire, and will peel back the years to see how it was when these particular buildings were first built. Dan will be house detective as he traces how and why each flat, terraced house or cottage was built – and who were the heroes and villains of the story. He’ll scour the deeds, rake up the family albums and hunt through the municipal records to track down the builders, the first inhabitants, the debt and the design of these buildings.

Aiding his hunt, a wealth of material from the RIBA Collections lays bare the interplay of design, economy, prudence and recklessness that lies behind every stair, every chimney breast and every doorway. RIBA’s exhibition to complement the series will be on display at the Architecture Gallery in London from 18 May to 28 August. It traces the historical development of our homes and explores how they could be designed differently to meet our future needs. 

Jonathan Meades: Benbuilding – Mussolini, Monuments, Modernism and Marble
1 x 90mins, TBC date week commencing 28th May 2016

Having investigated the architecture of Hitler and Stalin’s regimes in previous films, Jonathan Meades now turns his attention to another notorious 20th-century European dictator: Mussolini.

When it comes to the buildings of the Fascist era, Meades discovers a dictator who couldn’t dictate, as Mussolini was caught between the contending forces of modernism and a revivalism that harked back to Ancient Rome. The result was a variety of styles that still influence architecture today. The programme sees Meades visit Rome, Milan, Genoa, the new town of Sabaudia and the vast military memorials of Redipuglia and Monte Grappa. Along the way, he ponders on the nature of Fascism, the influence of The Futurists and Mussolini’s love of a fancy uniform.