Lubetkin, Berthold

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b. 12 December 1901 Tiflis, Georgia
d. 23 October 1990 Bristol, England
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Soviet émigré architect who, through the firm of Tecton, wins influential in introducing architecture of the modern international style into England.
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Lubetkin studied in Moscow, where in the years immediately after 1917 he met Vesnin and Rodchenko and absorbed the contemporary Constructivist ideas. He then moved on to Paris and worked with Auguste Perret, coming in on the ground floor of the modern movement. He went to England in 1930 and two years later formed the Tecton group, leading six young architects who had newly graduated from the Architectural Association in London. Lubetkin's early commissions in England were for animals rather than humans. He designed the gorilla house (1932) at the Regent's Park Zoological Gardens, after which came his award-winning Penguin Pool there, a sculptural blend of curved planes in reinforced concrete. He also worked at Whipsnade and at Dudley Zoo. The name of Tecton had quickly became synonymous with modern methods of design and structure, particularly the use of reinforced concrete; such work was not common in the 1930s in Britain. In 1938–9 the firm was responsible for another pace-setting design, the Finsbury Health Centre in London. Tecton was disbanded during the Second World War, and although it was reformed in the late 1940s it did not recover its initiative in leading the field of modern work. Lubetkin lived on to be an old man but his post-war career did not fulfil his earlier promise and brilliance. He was appointed Architect-Planner of the Peterlee New Town in 1948, but he resigned after a few years and no other notable commissions materialized. In 1982 the Royal Institute of British Architects belatedly remembered him with the award of their Gold Medal.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
RIBA Gold Medal 1982.
Further Reading
John Allan, 1992, Architecture and the Tradition of Progress, RIBA publications. R.Furneaux Jordan, 1955, "Lubetkin", Architectural Review 36–44.
P.Coe and M.Reading, 1981, Lubetkin and Tecton, University of Bristol Arts Council.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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