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John Madin's Domestic Architecture a Guided Walk by Alan Clawley

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Starting at FIve Ways Rail Station, Islington Row.

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‘Those who characterise Madin as a commercial architect because of his many and prominent office buildings should look at the other aspects of his practice. less glamorous but of great social significance. His conservationist approach to the development plan for the Calthorpe estate; his workmanlike planning of Dawley, Telford and Corby new towns; his public service commissions; and his design and layout of housing schemes that are still lived in and popular today – all testify to his commitment to human values.’ Alan Clawley, John Madin, Twentieth Century Architects, RIBA Publishing 2011 with the Twentieth Century Society and English Heritage.

Less well-known but no less interesting than John Madin’s Central Library which was demolished in 2016, are Madin’s housing schemes for Lord Calthorpe, the owner of the 1600-acre family estate in Edgbaston a few miles west of the city centre. Madin was invited in 1957 to draw up a Master Plan for the development of the estate and to become its Chief Architect. Over the following two decades, Madin grasped this rare opportunity to design and build many large housing schemes utilizing the rambling gardens of redundant Victorian villas. He was thus able to raise the overall housing density of the estate in line with the rest of the city in such a subtle way that the change was hardly noticed.

This tour for Brutiful Birmingham is a 3-mile walk starting at Five Ways rail station, one stop from New Street, and ending at the White Swan on Harborne Road. Source material can be found in John Madin (2011) particularly chapters 1 and 2, and in Christopher Madin’s encyclopaedic ebook at www.john-madin.info

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Starting at FIve Ways Rail Station, Islington Row.

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