Engelsberg Summer School featured in ARKITEKTEN Magazine

English translation of the article: Arkitekter söker klassisk skolning – i Bergslagen:


Architects are looking for classical education - in Bergslagen

By Jonas Lindgren, September 25, 2017

There are few architects who specialize in new projects in classical style. However, the Ax-son Johnson Foundation's initiative aims to change this. This summer, the foundation gathered the world stars in the field to train a new generation of architects who want to reconnect the ties to history.

The architect Shan Lae Aye from Burma thinks she has learned a lot in just a few days.PHOTO JONAS MALMSTRÖM

The architect Shan Lae Aye from Burma thinks she has learned a lot in just a few days.PHOTO JONAS MALMSTRÖM

The sound of pencil pressed against paper is the only thing that breaks the silence in the Swedish summer slate. Each move with the pencils is carefully weighed out, and the house details grow out in the drawing blocks. The measurements of pillars, pilasters, sprinkles, slag and leak are noted minutely for the images to be flawless.

In the lawn in front of a home in empire style from the 1840s, Laura Hutton with her legs crossed over his drawing in deep concentration. When we arrive she shoots up her sunglasses so that they rest against her head and lighthouses a smile as shining white as the beads around her neck.

"This is a liberating experience for me. In my education, we were not allowed to draw classical architecture, but here I am among like-minded colleagues acquiring basic knowledge that nobody has been able to give me before," she says, stroking her blonde hair aside.

Everyday, she is a practicing architecture at home in the United States. But this summer she is in Engelsberg together with 20 strangers from around the world, including four from Sweden, for a month-long intensive course in everything from typography to drawing classic details. They come from Australia, Mexico, the Philippines and even from Italy for a deep diving in architecture history in the heart of the Bergslag.

It may seem strange to leave Sicily to study classical architecture in Västmanland, but there is an explanation. There are simply very few trainings of this kind throughout the world and here in the field, those who want to revive the classical architecture have found a benevolent patron - the Ax: son Johnson Foundation.

"Modernism exists in all art forms, but at the music school you get to learn the subject from scratch," says Christopher Liberatos (right), who argues that the same should apply to architects. Here together Jenny Bevan and George Saumarez Smith.  Photo:  Jonas Malmström

"Modernism exists in all art forms, but at the music school you get to learn the subject from scratch," says Christopher Liberatos (right), who argues that the same should apply to architects. Here together Jenny Bevan and George Saumarez Smith. Photo: Jonas Malmström

"I want a broader knowledge of history," says Jacob Star (left) who recently graduated from KTH.  Photo:  Jonas Malmström

"I want a broader knowledge of history," says Jacob Star (left) who recently graduated from KTH. Photo: Jonas Malmström

Peter Elmlund is responsible for the part of the Foundation's program that deals with cities and those who have taken the initiative to start the summer course in classical architecture. He turns up for lunch after the morning tennis game and greets us with a firm handshake and an equal look.

Under his direction, the Ax: son Johnson Foundation has been working on urban development issues for several years. Among other things, they support education and research on architectural education in Lund and Stockholm and work internationally with UN habitats.

"When we started in the early 2000s, nobody talked about the city and public space. Our focus has always been to shift the discussion from buildings to places, "says Peter Elmlund.

The idea of the summer school really did not come when they needed to hire an architect to draw a new farm that could melt into the world-class environment of the ironworks site. When they had to look abroad to find an architect who managed the sensitive task, Peter Elmlund saw a need to fill.

"Our mission is to do what the market does not support," says Peter Elmlund, and continues: And nobody can think this pluralism is bad?

Upstairs from the lunch room are easels and drawing boards set in small groups under the exposed roof beams of the old valve factory's roof. A single window on the short side of the room emits natural light and the desk lamps make the furniture shed long shadows. In the middle of the room stands Christopher Liberatos and Jenny Bevan, who are the main instructors of the course, and together they run the Bevan & Liberatos office in Charleston, South Carolina, USA. Both are dressed in blue checked shirts. Together, the couple are behind the syllabus for the summer school and although classical architecture is in the name, they both mean that what they really learn is not tied to a particular style - it is traditional architecture.

"Before modernism, there was only architecture - not modern or classic," Chistopher Liberatos said emphatically, resting his chin on his hand.

The concept of classical architecture includes the styles consciously following the principles of classical Greek and Roman architecture. However, with the concept of traditional architecture, they cover all architecture that links to local traditions, culture and materials, which many of the modernists rejected. It's important to them, not least because they have students from all over the world. The goal is that the students in four weeks will get a method that enables them to study the architecture at home and understand how they can build on the culture that has evolved over generations.

We teach them to read traditional architecture. It is a language that they can then use to express themselves, "says Christopher Liberatos.

It is the common language that makes older buildings harmonize with each other in the city and allow them to be perceived as a whole, although it can separate hundreds of years between them, he believes. This also creates a readability in the city, important buildings stand out and other buildings retreat. But he believes that for that matter, it does not need to be rectified.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely the modernist city planning is completely condemned nowadays? Everyone agrees that it is unsuccessful. Then it may be time to question modernism even in architecture.

Christopher Liberatos draws a similarity from a scene in the movie Harold to Maude, where the main characters are sitting in a field of daisies.  Where Harold sees a field with similar flowers, Maude gets him to look at them one by one. There are long, short, thick and no one is identical to the other.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but surely the modernist city planning is totally condemned nowadays? Everyone agrees that it is unsuccessful. Then it may be time to question modernism even within architecture, Christopher says.


Although he does not want to judge all modern architecture, it is clear that he does not see much to gain in modernism.

There is no commonality between classical and modernist architecture because modernism is about breaking the past. In CIAM's document there is even a picture of a classic house with a big cross, says Christopher Liberatos.

But the important thing is to recognize that classical architecture does not fit anywhere. For example, a Renaissance palace has no place in the White City of Tel Aviv, Israel, a continuous modernist area. "There it would be perfectly natural to draw in the Bauhaus style," he says.

The whole group meets for criticism. Everything on the course is done by hand. Photo: Jonas Malmström

The whole group meets for criticism. Everything on the course is done by hand. Photo: Jonas Malmström

The two main teachers say that students who master the traditional language are highly sought after in the market - not least because there are so few training courses. Christopher Liberatos and Jenny Bevan are classically educated from the foundation of the University of Notre Dame in the United States, which is one of the very few architectural schools of its kind. Jenny also has a "regular, modernistic" education at the bottom and assumes her experience as she draws up the curriculum.

"I'm trying to give them what I would have liked when I was a student," says Jenny Bevan.

Many of the summer courses in Ängelsberg are architectural students, and several of them have encountered opposition when they attempted to draw so-called new classical architecture at their schools.

"For some of them architecture school is a disappointing experience. Some have been threatened with disapproval or failure for exploring these styles. I get so tired of people saying that what we are doing is not "of our time". Our students are 19-20 years old, how can they do not be out of our time!" says Christopher Liberatos.

Even those who had encouraging teachers have had difficulty in developing their skills at the schools. Very few teachers have enough deep architectural skills, they say.

"Several students have wanted to show their old school projects here just because they would like to make sensible criticism," said Jenny Bevan.

"Many architects have different social issues as a starting point today, but why can not it be beautiful too?", Says Eric Norin who reads the final year at KTH together with Elise Wiklund. Photo: Jonas Malmström

"Many architects have different social issues as a starting point today, but why can not it be beautiful too?", Says Eric Norin who reads the final year at KTH together with Elise Wiklund. Photo: Jonas Malmström

"We have no traditional architecture left, everything is torn to build European modernism. Our culture disappeared without trace, "says Fatou Jobe from Gambia.  Photo:  Jonas Malmström

"We have no traditional architecture left, everything is torn to build European modernism. Our culture disappeared without trace, "says Fatou Jobe from Gambia. Photo: Jonas Malmström

In the sunshine on the stairs to what is used as a residence hall, but which is actually a 17th-century guesthouse moved here from Dala Floda at the beginning of last century, Elise Wiklund and Eric Norin are sitting. On their knees, they have an improvised drawing board, a wooden fiberboard with a neatly stuck paper and their attention is directed to a sketch block between them, where they noted the dimensions of the house, which are now to be transferred to a detailed drawing. Around them, their classmates strive with scales and tape measure to map each millimeter of many details.

"Much of what we do here should be part of the basic education. It's as the teachers say; It's a language and you can not understand what previous architects have done and why, if you can't speak the language "said Elise Wiklund (who will soon start the year at KTH) as she lifts her eyesight from the drawing.

Going to school she should learn to read older architecture and be able to see what time period a certain detail comes from, she believes. Eric Norin, who will also start his last year at KTH, looks up from his drawing with one eye in the strong sun. It becomes a fame in the dark, a naive denial of history. It's not about recreating old styles but re-connecting the ties to history, he says.

Then he draws a quote from British architect Robert Adam, one of the new architectural starchitects, and will be repeated by several students at the Ängelsberg summer school: "Architecture history is like a book and in order to write the next chapter of the book, we need to know what it says in the foregoing."

Hariette Nuestro from the Philippines wants to bring the method she learned at the summer course and use elements of traditional architecture in her native country. Photo: Jonas Malmström

Hariette Nuestro from the Philippines wants to bring the method she learned at the summer course and use elements of traditional architecture in her native country. Photo: Jonas Malmström

On the gravel road, which is the main street of the grounds, the British guest teacher, George Saumarez Smith, moves through today's practice with the students' small groups. He has a turquoise pullover vest over his sky-blue shirt and a bag freely thrown over his shoulder. Everyday, he works with Robert Adam at ADAM Architecture, one of the few companies specializing in new classical architecture. There are some schooling opportunities in the UK and some others in the United States but in this form the Engelsberg program is singular in the world. It makes it difficult for those students who are interested in finding someone to learn from.

"There is a whole generation of architects who can not teach classical architecture," said George Saumarez Smith with soft voice.


Interest in tradition flourishes again in all forms of art. Just look at the renewed interest in crafts and, for example, the slow food movement. We see ourselves as part of it.


Christopher Liberatos and Jenny Bevan have just approached with their bikes. Jenny fills in: "We traditionalists live a right marginalized existence. But soon there will be a change. The interest in tradition flourishes again in all forms of art. Just look at the renewed interest in crafts and, for example, the slow food movement. We see ourselves as part of it," she says as she lets her arms rest on the bike.

From having worked for themselves in different parts of the world, they have now also been built by their own organization, INTBAU, who co-sponsors the summer course in Ängelsberg together with the Ax: son Johnson Foundation.

INTBAU, an acronym for the International Network for Traditional Building, Architecture and Urbanism, was founded by Britain's Prince Charles and today has collected around 5,000 members worldwide. The organization's goal is to support the construction and preservation of traditional architecture, that is, based on local culture, crafts and materials.

In recent years, the same ideas have been picked up seriously even in Sweden, perhaps above all by the Association of the Architecture Revolution. The ideas have also been attached to the newspapers' lead pages. Both Sydsvenskan in Malmö and Göteborgs Posten, two of Sweden's largest morning newspapers, have propagated in leadership to build new in older styles. The same views have been made in several local newspapers and on discussion pages in the last year, and lobbyists in thought media Timbro have organized seminars on the theme and conduct opinion on classical architecture in its online magazine Smedjan. So far, there has not been a particularly big impact among architects, but four of the course participants in Ängelsberg are students from KTH. Although not all four are here because they want to draw new classical architecture themselves - some want to fill a gap of knowledge or to have a better reason to stand on - they agree that interest has grown at school in recent years.

"What premiers at the school is to find your own style, not to learn from others," said Elise Wiklund, one of the students.

Eric Norin is one of the longest, he was himself one of the first members of the Architecture Revolution, and has principally drawn classical projects throughout the entire program. Teachers take him seriously, he believes, but has difficulty giving any wise guidance or criticism. "The best criticism I received is a guest critic who said," What a nice drawing! But where is your project?" She was looking for something stripped of glass and concrete and could not discern my addition, says Eric Norin. 

It was worse when he took a replacement year in France. There he found that they made excuses to avoid discussing his project at all - he could get out of criticism because a piece of paper was cheated.

"Modern architecture has never spoken to me in the same way as classical," said William Barnum from the United States, telling him that he faced strong negative responses to the university for his classical interest.  Photo:  Jonas Malmström

"Modern architecture has never spoken to me in the same way as classical," said William Barnum from the United States, telling him that he faced strong negative responses to the university for his classical interest. Photo: Jonas Malmström

When the whole group is gathered for an open evening discussion, Eric Norin's experience in France does not prove to be unique. Many have felt isolated in their interest. Someone says it's shameful, a little taboo with classical architecture at school. It means a lot for them to meet like-minded and, for once, to be in the majority.

"Everyone here loves classical architecture as much as I do and that makes me very happy to meet others with the same interest. I thought I was alone. There is no classical architectural education in Australia and before I came here, I did not even know that there was another Australian who liked the same things as I, "said Christopher Filippidis, who was surprised when he met his countryman Adam Vandepeer at the summer course.


Unfortunately, the populist right has cut this issue at least in Britain and it is important not to let it happen.


Several of them have felt opposed, some have even had a teacher called classical architecture fascist. The political aspect can not be ignored, among other things, Jack Handscombe, an art student from Edinburgh.

- Unfortunately, the populist right has cut this issue at least in Britain and it is important not to let it happen. The classical language is flexible and we can use it to express democratic values, he says.

He himself explores classical architecture in his art and emphasizes that he really wants to create modern works, but has a connection to history.

"Modernism is an irrational break on a millennial line and we should be able to pick up that thread again," he says.

"The important thing is to assume the place and what people want. Architects will work in the service of the people, "says architect Nils Gustafsson.  Photo:  Jonas Malmström

"The important thing is to assume the place and what people want. Architects will work in the service of the people, "says architect Nils Gustafsson. Photo: Jonas Malmström

The following day, it will take off to Falun for excursion. On the sloping square outside Kristine Church under a smooth sky, Ricardo Mouret from Mexico is completely dressed in black with a light yellow trenchcoat and Eve Zeltina from Lithuania in a long green jacket and the hair set in a tassel. For Ricardo Mouret this is the first time he met like-minded students. Everyday, he studies in Mexico City but does not feel at home.

"They always want me to make strange creations," he says, laughing shyly.

Eve Zeltina is ready for her architectural education. At last, after five years, she can draw what she wants.

"Yes, they really can make you feel like an idiot at school," she replies.

All modern architecture is of course not bad, and everything in classical style is of course not good, she continues. But, for example, take Poundbury, a newly built British city in the traditional spirit, people love it while architects hate it and think it's a joke.

- So who's right? The 1%?


Although it has been very intensive, everyone has gone around with a smile on their lips, comparing it to a regular architecture school - where everyone is filled with anxiety.


Two weeks later in the Old Town of Stockholm, the tourists fill the narrow, winding alleys. With their sketchbooks in hand and their eyes attached to a port from the last century, Monali Wankar Chakraborty from India and Ionut Dohotariu from Romania form an island in the stream of people. During the past week, the course participants have had their first design tasks - a challenge for both restoration experts.

"I am so focused on conservation and there is a different way of drawing something new, it felt a little strange," says Monali Wankar Chakraborty with a smile.

"It actually surprised me that I could use the classic motives on a new building. It was exciting, says Ionut Dohotariu.

Around the corner, Nils Gustafsson is sitting on the bench with a tape measure in front of another of the gates of the district. This spring he raised some hackles with his exams at KTH - a further development of Ferdinand Boberg's Nobel Palais proposal. Of course, it ended up in the current debate about the Nobel Museum and was celebrated online by, among other things, the Architecture Revolution, but the timing was actually a coincidence for Nils Gustafsson, fascinated by the project for several years. He has also tried to explore older styles earlier, but it is only during the summer course that he feels he has the right tools.

"It has been a great relief indeed. At the architectural school you are just thrown out to discover yourself, here we have teachers who give us encouragement, knowledge, tools and a working method. Even though it has been very intensive, everyone has walked around with a smile on his lips, comparing it with a regular architectural school - there everyone is filled with anxiety, he says, stretching out his arms.

In Stockholm, among other things, the students are introduced to Swedish Grace, a style that mixes the traditional with the classics according to the teachers of the summer course.

"All architects love Asplund and he had classical schooling and when they talk about him it's a positive thing. Classical architecture is the foundation and everyone should be able to study it, "says Nils Gustafsson.

The KTH students Elise Wiklund and Eric Norin meet at Stortorget. They agree. It's not that everyone will go from here and draw classic projects, but they've found teachers who listened and could help them further.

"After this course, I'm studying more carefully why I'm drawings what I'm drawing," says Elise Wiklund.

They feel that the interest in classical architecture is increasing in school and an open mind toward exploring other styles exists both in students and teachers. Maybe it is a breakthrough for traditionalists in Sweden?

B&L discuss "Designing in Historic Districts" with the ICAA


Designing in Historic Districts: A Vision for Civic Conservation

"Internationalist architecture and decades of car-centric planning have failed to produce places of local character, and as the demand for walkable, charming places outpaces the supply, historic districts around the world are under extreme development pressures.  Yet new developments are often incompatible with historic neighborhoods.  In “A Vision for Civic Conservation,” Charleston-based designers, Jenny Bevan and Christopher Liberatos, explore how the preservation community could increase their efficacy in guiding growth in historic districts.  They argue that we should treat historic districts not as museums but as living models for future growth and development and bulwarks against globalized homogeneity.  Please join Jenny and Christopher as they present how the principles of Civic Conservation can promote a socially, environmentally, and economically sustainable model for historic districts."


Townhouse renovation featured in Southern Living Magazine

"To make sure their condo felt solid and rich in McAlpine-approved architectural tradition, Sallie worked with Charleston-based interior designer Buff Coles and architectural designers Bevan & Liberatos. Together they filled out the hollow condo shell with high-quality materials like custom millwork, functioning window hardware, and solid wood interior doors."

"Architectural designer, Christopher Liberatos gave this lofted living room character by enclosing most of the second story stair landing and dressing up the walls and ceilings with paneling and millwork.  The newly coffered ceilings, the applied arch around the stair balcony, and the room's moldings balance out its height."

Click here for more photos of this Sea Island Townhouse.

Let's do it again: City's oldest park needs your help.

Steve Bailey in Sunday's Post and Courier:

Charleston loves a party, and yesterday we threw one for the ages: About 18 months after it was closed, Colonial Lake, a true icon of Charleston, was officially reopened with a celebration that will not be forgotten soon. Even the splendors of the 40th Spoleto Festival could not outshine the glory of Colonial Lake reborn.

The $5.9 million revival of Colonial Lake — financed mainly with tourism and hospitality taxes and $1.5 million raised privately by the Charleston Parks Conservancy — has produced a stunning public space that is already attracting kids with cast nets and all the rest of us to ogle the wonders of the flower beds planted by an army of volunteers.

Colonial Lake is such a magnificent success we should do it again. And Hampstead Mall should be next.

Even Charlestonians who know the city well don’t know Hampstead Mall by name, if they know it at all, and certainly don’t know that it is the city’s oldest park — older than Hampton Park, Marion Square or Colonial Lake. It is the park that time and the city forgot.

Located at the intersection of Columbus and America streets on the Eastside, Hampstead Mall is a jewel in the rough, waiting to be reclaimed. It dates to 1769 when Henry Laurens — Revolutionary war patriot, rice planter and financier of the slave trade — created Hampstead Village, patterned on London borough of the same name.


-     Click through slideshow above to review Existing Conditions, Phase I, and Phase II, see Phase II below     -


Originally planned as a suburb for wealthy planters who wanted to escape the grime of the city, Hampstead Village was started and burned during the Revolution and the public square was occupied by the military in the War of 1812.

Only when the British were finally persuaded to take no for an answer was Hampstead Village built out as a working-class neighborhood of whites and blacks.

Over the years the four-acre Hampstead Mall was cut in half first by Columbus Street and then by America Street, leaving the four quadrants we have now.

If once designed for wealthy planters, the message of the park today is unmistakable: Poor people live here, and we don’t care.

The magnificent oaks remain, and a handsome statute of Philip Simmons, Charleston’s most storied ironsmith, is in the center of one square, but all around there is neglect. One square is surrounded by a locked six-foot chain-link fence and sign that says “No Dogs Allowed, Violators Will Be Prosecuted.”

In the other squares, large areas have no grass. There are no plantings. The playground equipment is dated.

Maybe worst of all:  The park is largely empty.  We must do better.

To get a conversation started, I recruited Jenny Bevan and Christopher Liberatos, a husband and wife team who run Bevan & Liberatos, a Charleston firm that specializes in modern traditional architectural design and planning, and we’ve put together a plan to remake Hampstead Mall. We want to hear your ideas.


That’s right, our plan for the park starts with building housing and some retail space, not on the park, but on the vacant and under-utilized edges. Why? Because the peninsula desperately needs affordable housing, and more people living in the neighborhood will bring more activity to a better defined park.

The housing will also help finance the park improvements. Just across the street is Fraser Elementary, which was built in the era of segregation and has been empty for years.

With the school district bleeding money, the county doesn’t need the maintenance bill and should sell it for $1 for development and an agreement to build mixed-income and workforce housing and contribute to remaking the park.

In addition, Trident Tech should consider turning a portion of its surface parking lots into housing along the park’s edge, bringing still more people and activity to the district.

Trident could also use some of the new space for its own needs. But where are the students to park if you build on the parking lots?


We knew you would ask that. Rather than the surface parking lots, we should build a parking deck to be shared by Trident and the now-thriving Cigar Factory, which is going to need more parking.

Trident’s lots are empty on the weekend, a good place to provide for the needs of Friendship Baptist Church, which currently uses the fenced-off park square on Sundays.


“This is a really beautiful space, and the bones of a great park are right there,” says Harry Lesesne, the executive director of the Charleston Parks Conservancy, which in less than a decade has become a city treasure. “It is crying out for a really good plan and a really big investment. You ought to be thinking big.”

Start with what the Conservancy does so well: grass, flowers and updated playground equipment. Then make it a destination, not a crossroad on the way to someplace else.

Once upon a time, William Pitt the Elder stood on a pedestal at the center of Meeting and Broad streets. Building on the heritage of the Eastside, put Philip Simmons on a pedestal at the center of the park, the intersection of America and Columbus. He will announce to all that they are at a place that matters — and slow down traffic while he is at it. Unify the park by carrying the Simmons legacy across all four squares, using his graceful style in fences, gates, bike racks and the like. Put up a map to his house and forge that still stand a block away. Gateway banners over Columbus Street on either end of Hampstead Mall will welcome all.

Provide more uses for more people.


No one would be happier than Franciscan Sister Maigread Conway, who cared for the poor for more than 30 years, if we expanded the fountain dedicated to her into a smaller version of the one at Riley Waterfront Park, allowing kids to cool off on hot days.

The Trident Test Kitchen, a cafe operated by the students of the school’s top-notch Culinary Institute in the new retail space. Have breakfast or lunch in the diner or out on a table on one of the squares.

One square could have room for events such as a farmers market or craft shows. Neighborhood churches could use it for weddings and other events. You could throw a Frisbee out there.

The odds are stacked against any of this happening, of course. Some will see it as an engine of gentrification, forcing the poor out of the neighborhood. Other projects will be competing for money and attention, including plans to replace DeReef Park at Morris and Smith streets, the proposed Lowline project down the center of the peninsula and yet another proposed park on the U-Haul site on King Street.

But there are compelling reasons, too, that Hampstead Mall should be at the front of the line, not the back of the bus. At this moment when we are daily debating the balance between tourists and residents — them vs. us — Hampstead Mall is all about us.

This is a park for the locals in the most underserved section of the city. And it is the locals — black and white — who are getting cheated by the neglect, the disinvestment, that has gone on here for too long.

Now it’s your turn. How would you fix Hampstead Mall?

Steve Bailey is a former Boston Globe columnist who has returned to his hometown. He can be reached at sjbailey1060@yahoo.com.

Inaugural European Summer School in Classical Architecture

INTBAU is inviting you to attend a European Summer School in Classical Architecture in Sweden

Sweden | 4-30 July 2016

In partnership with the Ax:son Johnson Foundation


We are delighted and honored to be teaching at this four-week course, which will be based in the idyllic setting of Engelsberg, a World Heritage Site centered around historic steel processing works in a wooded rural setting two hours northwest of Stockholm. The site, owned by the Ax:son Johnson Foundation, has been converted to provide comfortable residential accommodation and a conference centre newly constructed in an old steel works. In the final week the course will move to Stockholm.

The course will be taught by leading practitioners of modern classical architecture and academics with specific expertise in the subject. There will be lectures on the classical architectural Orders, their history, mythology, details and application in design.  There will also be lectures on the conventions of classical composition in architecture and different ways of using and adapting the Orders and their details. 

Hands-on skills in measured and freehand drawing and three-dimensional modeling will be taught as well as hand-drawn architectural draftsmanship and the application of computer aided design. There will be two design projects, one theoretical and the other based on real sites in the locality. Drawing practice and the choice of sites for design will take place on excursions into the surrounding area.  

On selected evenings with visiting lecturers there will be open debates on contro­versial subjects associated with classical architecture such as modernity, technology and symbolism. Students will be free to participate. The course will include tours of Stockholm and its highly original and influential early-twentieth-century classical architecture and there will be a measured drawing project to understand and record some of the unique architectural details. On the last day lecturers, visitors and students will discuss and evaluate their experiences and join in a farewell dinner. 

Contributors to the programme include: Robert AdamJenny BevanChristine FranckChristopher LiberatosHugh Petter, George Saumarez SmithScala ArchitectsRussell Taylor and more.

Course fee is €1500 (covers tuition, accommodation, meals and excursions).  Further information is available - click here to request booklet
Application via registration form - click here to request application form.  Please email Lauren.banks@intbau.org if you have any queries.


- Registration Closed - 

La Habana, La Ciudad de las Columnas

B&L recently presented "Calling for a New Preservation Charter: A Declaration of Place" at INTBAU Cuba's conference, “Resilience and the Value of Heritage: Learning from Historic Cities” in the beautiful city of Havana.  Left speechless by this incredible city, we'll let Alejo Capentier speak to her beauty:


"In the beginning was the mason, but houses began to grow and large mansions completed the layout of plazas, and the column - no longer the conquistadors’ gallows - appeared in the city.  But it was an interior column, born elegantly in the shadowy patios, garnished with vegetation, where the trunk of the palm tree coexisted with the Doric shaft; consider the image of the haughty patio of the San Francisco monastery as an eloquent illustration.  At the outset, in houses with a solid layout (a bit rough in their exteriors), like the one in front of Havana’s cathedral, the column resembled an object of intimate refinement, destined to uphold the arcade of interior porticoes.  Except for the cathedral’s plaza, the Plaza Vieja where buildings devoted to the islands administration were erected, this was logical in a city whose streets were intentionally narrow; narrowness is a propitiator of shadows, where neither twilight nor dawn blinds the pedestrian with direct sunlight.  Thus, in many of Havana’s old palaces, in a few affluent mansions that have still preserved their original layout, the column is an element of interior decoration, luxury, and ornamentation.  This was before the nineteenth century, when the column moved to the street, thus creating - even in days of evident architectonic decadence - one of the most extraordinary constants of the Havana style: the incredible profusion of columns in a city that is an emporium of columns, a jungle of columns, and infinite colonnade, the last city to possess columns in such amazing excess, columns that, moreover, having abandoned original patios, began to retrace the column’s decadence through the ages."

- Alejo Carpentier, La ciudad De Las Columnas


B&L Discuss Preservation & Growth in Traditional Building Magazine


"Because decades of car-centric planning and internationalist architecture has failed to produce places of local character, the demand for walkable, charming places outpaces supply. And since globalized finance requires a homogenized building product, what gets built in one place must be the same as what gets built everywhere else, be it in Dallas, Columbus or Charleston.  Consequently, contemporary developments within and adjacent to historic districts are often incompatible with existing neighborhoods..."  

Published in Traditional Building Magazine. Read on below:

Charleston's Choice: A Case Study for Civic Conservation

Charleston is home to one of architecture's unique contributions: the Charleston single-house. What is less known is that Charleston is also home to one of urbanism's unique contributions: side-yard urbanism. Although this type of urbanism works well with single-houses, it is not dependent on them, and it is used throughout Charleston even where there are no single-houses. It is characterized by clearly defined public streets and squares, deep lots, and the locating of the buildings, which are kept narrow to catch the breeze, on the side of the lot, creating spaces between buildings referred to in Gullah as the “gap.” It exists in no other place, even places equally hot and humid. It is as much a unique product of this melange of African and European cultures that is Lowcountry culture as is the way we speak and the food we eat. It is an ingenious solution to achieving an urban level density yet livable in this hot and humid climate. It allows for an architecture that is characterized by screens, loggias, courtyards, gardens, and of course porches: Charleston is a city of porches - not just our houses have porches but also our shops have porches, our churches have porches, our libraries have porches, our schools and our hospitals have porches, or at least used to -- it is no wonder that President Obama singled out Charleston in his inaugural speech by referring to our porches! Charleston's urbanism allows for a diversity of housing types and income levels, and a diversity of business types. It is a miracle of urban form, yet it exists only in Charleston


As both benyas and comyas know, Charleston’s unique brand of architecture and urbanism is so much in demand that locals of many generations can no longer afford to live here - the market now is international. And small, local businesses are forced to compete with out-of-town national brands, willing to have a loss-leader in hip Charleston, in an ever-decreasing supply of small retail shops. Right now, thousands of housing units are being built in Charleston, yet none are following the model set by Charleston’s unique and in-demand urbanism. They are either of the Anywhere, USA suburban sprawl type, or they are of the massive Texas-style lined parking garage type. Hundreds of thousands of square feet of large-scale retail space is being built,  none of it in the fine grained, human scaled pattern that characterizes Charleston.

 Instead of bringing in more people to compete for what little of Charleston style urbanism there is, we should be taking advantage of this unique type of architecture and urbanism by building more of it. We should be making Charleston more affordable by increasing the supply of Charleston. We should welcome people who love Charleston and who want to move here, and we should welcome the developers who want to take risks to build buildings to house them. But for the protection of her brand and for her older neighborhoods, Charleston should say has a right to say, we have a unique brand of architecture and urbanism - please follow the successful patterns that have been followed here now for over three centuries. This is how we live, you are welcome to participate all you want. If you love Charleston, help us to make more of Charleston. And we should be building more of the fine-grained Charleston not just because that’s how the city developed in the past, but because it is the superior thing to do, and because it will generate the greatest value.


Visit civicconservation.org/casestudy for the full case study.  


B&L present "Our Disposable Architecture" for TEDx Charleston

"Our Disposable Architecture" is now online!

Thanks again to all those who made TEDx Charleston such a success, and for the post-production crew for these wonderful videos.

Remember, the concept behind TED is "Ideas worth sharing." So, please, head over to YouTube, like, comment, and share!

CNU 23: Meeting the Demand for Walkable Places

The Congress for the New Urbanism held their annual meeting in Dallas this year.  Jenny spoke during the "CNU Is Burning" session, which was about whether traditional urbanism performs better with traditional architecture or not. Our many thanks to Paddy Steinschneider for the invitation and for making it happen, and a special thanks to Andrés Duany for encouraging the ongoing discussion. It's looking like it might even continue into CNU 24 in Detroit next year...

Sgt. Jasper Site Study

Dear friends,

Many are rightfully concerned about the proposal to put three mega-buildings at the foot of Broad Street, one of our main entrances into the City. We have been inspired to do a quick study to see what sorts of densities might be achieved on this site if instead the developers were to continue Charleston’s urban and architectural patterns as if this were a natural, organic extension of the neighborhood.  

If the site is currently zoned “Urban” - which allows 12 units/acre - at 6.4 acres, this site would be zoned for up to 76 units. This is probably the appropriate zoning for this part of the city. However, if the current existing 220 units are grandfathered in, or if the argument for increased density here is valid - and maybe it is - still, Charleston-style urbanism can more than accommodate these numbers, while at the same time providing porches, gardens, greater traffic-alleviating connectivity, and greater diversity of incomes, ages, and family life. While the density of units is greater, the density of buildings shown in our scheme is on par with that found in sections of Church Street, or on nearby Trapman and Short Streets, or on Savage Street - found, in fact, in sections of all the charming neighborhoods in the city.

Everyone loves Charleston’s authentic architecture and urbanism - so much so that it is becoming unaffordable. Why not make more, and where is a better site? Perhaps there are appropriate places for mega-buildings, but district-scale preservation depends on urban and architectural consistency. The way to achieve this is by continuing those patterns and building the architectural typologies that have proven themselves so resilient, so flexible, so maintainable - in short, so valuable - in the first place. Charleston’s urban and architectural patterns have generated a city of internationally celebrated distinction. Why not continue those patterns?

We hope this might be of use and offer it as a contribution to the process of determining the best result for this site and for our City. Please feel free to share.

Christopher & Jenny

New Bicycle Stands: Hand-wrought in and for the City of Charleston

     Seeing that 1) the City of Charleston is in need of new bicycle stands; and that 2) Charleston has a 300+ year old tradition of wrought iron which is distinctively Charlestonian and famous world wide; and that 3) Charleston is home to the American College of the Building Arts, where they teach the noble art of wrought iron: in the name of Civic Conservation, B&L have designed new wrought-iron bicycle stands to be made by highly skilled artisan graduates of the American College of the Building Arts, giving them the opportunity to engage in a local tradition by applying it to contemporary needs, and giving you the opportunity to employ local craftsmen, support the local economy, and help beautify the city.

You can commission a single stand for $1500 or two for $2500. Please contact us at info@bevanandliberatos.com.

The New Preservation: A Vision for Civic Conservation


"By now we are all accustomed to the idea that local agricultural and culinary traditions provide more sustainable alternatives to the unhealthy and unsustainable industrial food systems. When it comes to architecture, the unhealthy, unsustainable industrial building systems still reign, while the traditional architecture movement, miscast by architects as conservative and nostalgic, is overlooked. Tradition is not the blind copying of some past culture’s artifacts; it is a progressive, multi-generational feat wherein useful ideas are retained and bad ideas are discarded or improved upon. Local building traditions, just like local culinary traditions, developed in response to the geography, climate, natural resources, and local economies.  Why not learn from them, not by riffing on them, or making abstract versions of them, but by directly engaging them?"    - CivicConservation.org


     It is with these ideas in mind that we have launched "A Vision for Civic Conservation" at CivicConservation.org.  The purpose of CivicConservation.org is to provide a framework of guiding principles with which to address growth, change, and progress in local communities, primarily from within historic districts.  An alternative to the academic preservation based on Modernist philosophy, CivicConservation.org is inspired by grass-roots organizations that support the local traditions of places and their cultures.  Environmental goals, economic goals, and civic goals are interrelated and must be treated holistically. 

     None of the ideas of CivicConservation.org are based on nostalgia or on a particular political ideology.  We are working from data, study, and common logic.  For the professional world, this is an avant-guard and counter-cultural movement, but for many we are simply putting words to things they already know through experience.  

     When you visit Civic Conservation, be sure to spend some time exploring the three main components of Civic Conservation - Town PlanningArchitecture, and the Buildings Arts - each linked from the homepage before going on to see What's the Matter with Historic Preservation and how Local Traditions Build Sustainable Communities.

     At Sign the Vision, you can read and become a signer of the Civic Conservation Standards.  We are also collecting signatures and stories from people around the world who are seeing the ill effects of Modernism in their villages, towns, cities, and countryside. If you have any stories, pictures, or questions, or if you would like to know how you can get involved, please write to: civicconservation(at)gmail.com.

Vitruviana 2014: The Legacy of Classicism in Charleston's Public Realm


"Classical influences were pervasive [in the southern library] including architecture through the Renaissance Italians and their British imitators."

- Richard Beale Davis (Intellectual Life of the Colonial South)


Vitruviana 2014 has come and gone. We loved this year's theme - Civic Order: The Legacy of Classicism in Charleston's Public Realm.  It was a wonderful event where we met many lovely people, heard interesting lectures, and got the chance to offer our own thoughts on the legacy of Classicism in our lecture, "Practical Lessons in Classicism from Charleston's Earliest Sources: Pre-Revolutionary Architecture Books at the Charlestown Library Society."  

As we see it, the legacy of Classicism is its ongoing practice. Old buildings are legacies from previous generations, to be sure, but they are not legacies of Classicism in the sense that Classicism has died and left them as relics.  Relics are dead remains of formerly living entities.  Old buildings are not dead remains but rather living models with much to teach about architectural principles.  These principles can and do inform practice today.  No matter how well built, buildings cannot last forever.  If we are to ensure the legacy of Classicism for future generations, it will only be through its ongoing practice.  Vitruviana 2014 was a great opportunity to discuss how this collection of books might have assisted in transmitting principles of Classicism to pre-revolutionary Charleston and to share a few instances when we have applied similar lessons in our own modern Classical designs.

A summary of:



The collection of architecture books at the Charleston Library Society prior to 1776 was a carefully curated collection and includes highly celebrated designers such as Andrea Palladio, James Gibbs, Sir Christopher Wren, Fréart de Chambray, William Chambers, William Pain, and Francis Price.  To better understand the architecture books available to early designers in Charleston, we also expanded our study to include "supporting books" on topics such as Mathematics, Travel, Philosophy, Materials, as well as Magazines and Journals, all of which discuss topics of direct or indirect relationship to architecture.




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In his A Book of Architecture, James Gibbs explores the infinite variety of design possibilities for a garden folly.  The commonalities in his designs help to reveal essential principles underlying them.  The garden folly at the Gabriel Manigault house exhibits similar design principles and yet is another entirely unique design.  Principles can also explain many of the reasons behind particular elements and details of Classical architecture.  In the image above right, The Builder's Dictionary gives three principles behind the corona and its drip, including principles of aesthetics, durability and sustainability.



Proportion can be applied simplistically (as in the relationship of a facade's height to width) or with great complexity.  In a design with complex application of proportions, the pieces of a building relate to similarly to each other and to the whole.  In the introduction to Parallel of the Ancient Architecture with the Modern, John Evelyn explains the relationship between beauty and proportion in his discussion of harmony: "The true and essential Beauty of Architecture ... does principally result from the Symmetry and Oeconomy of the whole, which is the Union and Concourse of them all together, producing ... a visible Harmony."



In his introduction to Charleston Architecture 1670-1860, Gene Waddell writes that, "So consistently high a level of achievement was made possible by talent, education and agreement about what constituted excellence."  This "agreement about what constitutes excellence" derives, in part, from a Classical view that beauty is objective and can therefore be discussed and debated.  The books in this collection, from authors such as Palladio, Gibbs, Hogarth and Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper support this view and tie architectural beauty to the designer's ability to resolve proportional relationships into a harmonic composition.

With gratitude to the many collaborators and sponsors of Vitruviana 2014, including:

Celebrating Creative Continuity and the Life of Donato Bramante

          Bramante was the first to make known that good and beautiful architecture which had been hidden from the time of the ancients till now. - Andrea Palladio

     The 500th anniversary of the death (life) of Donato Bramante - architect of the “New Antique Style” - did not go uncelebrated, at least not in Charleston. Last Tuesday evening we held a private exhibition to meditate with friends and alcohol on the man’s work, which includes St. Peter’s, the Tempietto, and the House of Raphael. Boldly employing Classical forms in Modern ways, unafraid of parasitic critics’ empty and unsupported accusations of “copying,” Bramante is a classical architect’s architect. We owe much to you Bramante. Requiescat in pace. 

     “When the grandeur of the Roman Empire began to decline because of the ceaseless invasions of the barbarians, architecture, having abandoned its original beauty and sophistication, as did all the other arts and sciences at the time, deteriorated more and more until it could get no worse in the total absence of any information about beautiful proportions and the ornate manner of building. Since all human affairs are in perpetual motion, it happens that at one time things ascend to the pinnacle of their perfection and at another descend to an abyss of imperfection; but architecture, emerging from those shadows in which it was long buried, began to reveal itself in the light of the world during the time of our fathers and grandfathers. So, under the pontificate of Pope Julius II, Bramante, a supremely talented man and observer of ancient structures, built marvelous buildings in Rome.” - Andrea Palladio