Mark Fenton

Topic: Courses
Subject: Architecture
Status: Student
Time period: 1930s; 1940s

Mark Fenton studied Architecture at the Regent Street Polytechnic in the late 1930s/early 1940s.

From 1891 there was a School of Architecture providing evening classes (and day classes from 1894) in a variety of subjects allied to the Architecture and Building trades, as well as preparation for professional examinations including those of the Surveyor's Institution, Royal Engineers and Royal Institute of British Architects.

After World War One the School of Architecture taught evening classes in architecture and architectural draughtsmanship, building, surveying, geometry, building law, mathematics and mechanics, as well as technical craft subjects (carpentry, joinery and cabinet making).  The Day School provided a three year Diploma course which on completion meant exemption from the RIBA intermediate examination. The Architects (Registration) Act 1931 recognised the School’s Diploma Final Examination in Architecture as qualification for registration.

In 1970 modern purpose-designed premises at Marylebone Road were built for the College of Architecture and Advanced Building Technologies which comprised the Department of Architecture, Surveying and Town Planning and the Department of Civil Engineering.  These facilities included a concrete testing laboratory, now the gallery space P3.

In this excerpt he discusses the antics of his fellow students in the classroom, the structure of the course and the School of Architecture in general.

MF: In the classroom, we had long rooms with benches across, we had four or five people along the bench with a drawing board and whatever.  Teacher’s up front.  At one point somebody from the back got up, climbed onto the top of the bench and stepped from bench to bench to bench and was just going out the front door and the lecturer said “hey where do you think you’re going?”  He said, “I’m just going to the toilet sir.”  He said, “Well what do you mean climbing on the benches like that?  You don’t do that at home do you?”  “No sir.”  “Well don’t you do that here”.  Few minutes later a second one starts doing the same thing looks up and says “it’s alright sir, I do it at home”.  
I: Was there a particular style of architecture that was taught at the Poly?
MF: No, I must say the Polytechnic in my opinion, as I found out after, having had staff that came from a variety of different schools, the Polytechnic turned out architects who were very practical.  They weren’t necessarily the best designers of all the schools.  Design was not my strongest point, but building construction, and anything connected with the practical side, I would rather have taken a student from the Polytechnic than from one of the other good design schools.

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