Grant Success for Dr. Torsten Schmiedeknecht

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Torsten Schmiedeknecht Grant, Image © Julia Chance
Image above © Julia Chance, from a book project titled Mrs Taylor’s Garden

Dr Torsten Schmiedeknecht has been awarded a £6000 grant from the RIBA to look at connections between children’s literature and architecture.

Modern architecture, particularly that of the interwar and immediate post-war periods, does not enjoy great acceptance among the general British public. Consequently, the image of home is often associated with Victorian or Georgian ideals. The objective of the proposed project is to see what kind of architectural ideals adults project to children, and in particular how to investigate how modern architecture has been portrayed in picture books since 1945.

Children are the future architects, clients and users of our buildings. What kind of ideas about modern architecture and what kind of architectural worlds, are children exposed to in picture books in their formative years?

What is of particular interest is the visual representation of the modern and the urban, and additionally the ways in which domestic space, the work place, public institutions and the public realm have been represented to children for the past seventy years. 

While there is plenty of research available on children's literature and on the dissemination of modernist architecture, no work has ever been carried out on the occurence and nature of modernist architecture in books aimed at young children, i.e. no work has brought these two strands of research together. The current proposal is therefore adding a new strand to research on children's literature, on the one hand, but more importantly the research will clarify what the image of modernist architecture presented in a medium crucial to children's educational development is.