Architecture historian Gavin Stamp dies aged 69

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Architecture historian Gavin Stamp dies aged 69

The architecture industry has been paying tribute to historian, writer and broadcaster Gavin Stamp, who has died following a battle with prostate cancer.

Stamp was a leading voice for British architecture, the author of several important architectural history books, and the presenter of television series including Pevsner's Cities and Gavin Stamp's Orient Express.

He passed away on 30 December 2017, aged 69, prompting social-media tributes from figures including architect Sam Jacob, V&A director Tristram Hunt, RIBA president Ben Derbyshire and Architecture Foundation director Ellis Woodman.

Hunt described him as "the most gifted and perceptive chronicler, critic and champion of Britain's urban civilisation", while Woodman called him "heroic".

"His combination of passionate enthusiasm and righteous anger remains a model for any architecture writer," Woodman wrote on Twitter.

Stamp studied at Dulwich College in south London, then at Gonville and Caius College in Cambridge, completing a PhD on the career of British architect George Gilbert Scott.

After graduating in 1978, he returned to London to establish himself as an architecture historian and spokesperson.

He wrote the Nooks and Corners column in politic magazine Private Eye, under the pseudonym Piloti. He also authored a piece in the Spectator in 1985 celebrating the design of telephone boxes by Giles Gilbert Scott, which led to 2,500 of them being given a heritage listing.

He co-founded the Twentieth Century Society (originally called the 1930s Society), was a key figure in the Victorian Society and also worked at the RIBA Drawings Collection, where his contributions included an exhibition about war memorials from the first world war.

In 1990, he was appointed professor of architectural history at the Mackintosh School of Art at the Glasgow School of Art, where he became an influential lecturer. During this period, he lived in a house built by neoclassical architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson – so he established the Greek Thomson Society.

He authored numerous books over his lifetime, including Edwin Lutyens: Country Houses (2001), Temples of Power: Architecture of Electricity in London (1979), The Memorial to the Missing of the Somme (2006) and Anti-Ugly: Excursions in English Architecture and Design (2013).

Other figures that have paid tribute to Stamp on Twitter include Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft.

She wrote: "Very sad to hear of the death of Gavin Stamp, long time friend and supporter of C20, our chairman for many years, leader of fabulous trips, pioneering historian, inspirational campaigner and joy to be with. We will miss him."

Critic Rowan Moore also paid his respects, writing: "Gavin Stamp: passionate about the things he believed in, absolutely honest and decent, no tolerance for bullshit or politicking, a proper writer and scholar. Quietly heroic in professional and personal life. I'm dazed. Is this news for real?"

Meanwhile fellow historian Otto Saumarez Smith described Stamp's death as "a terrible thing for the world".

"I was immensely privileged to have been taught by him, and he was always supportive and generous. There is no better model for combining architectural scholarship and passionate activism," he wrote.

See more tributes below:


Photograph is courtesy of Getty.