York C20: An Architectural Gazetteer of Twentieth-Century York (2022)

A collaboration between the Department of History of Art, University of York; the Twentieth Century Society and York Civic Trust

York C20: An Architectural Gazetteer of Twentieth-Century York was an exciting collaborative project between the Department of History of Art, University of York; York Civic Trust; and the Twentieth Century Society; and the York C20 website launched in October 2022, charting York's unsung C20 architecture, previously hidden in plain sight.

The project was conceived and overseen by Dr Joshua Mardell during his time as an Associate Lecturer in the Department of History of Art, from January 2020 to July 2022.  He then saw the website through to completion after his move to the Royal College of Art in August 2022.

‘York: A Twentieth-Century City’ was the provocative title of a walking tour led by the Twentieth Century Society in 2015. For, curiously, York’s C20 architectural heritage is unsung, hidden in plain sight and unchronicled. It is facing wanton obliteration. Such obliteration is historiographical, resulting from a lack of informed engagement, research and publications. But it has also been quite literal. (York C20, About page)

Website screenshot

Screenshot of the vignette page of the York C20 website, featuring Rafaela Dražić's eye-catching cut-outs.

Both undergraduate and postgraduate students from the Department of History of Art signed up to the project and contributed 'vignettes': some thirty short articles about individual buildings, forming the main content of the website, alongside a gazetteer of 20th-century architecture in York.

PhD students Christiane Matt (History of Art) and Callum Reilly (Archaeology) were Graduate Teaching Assistants on the project. Students who contributed vignettes were PhD students Richard Burrows, Pamela Chapman, Giulia Schirripa; MA students Samuel Kennedy, Lucia Martin, Anna Mayo, Jessica Smith and Fruzsina Vida; and under-graduates Alizée Cisternino, Ida Houdart, Tom Howard, Yanqi Huang, Ania Kaczynska, Vienna ShelleyLucia Spelsberg-Hornsby, and Finn Walsh, who, following his graduation, is currently a Volunteer Caseworker with the Twentieth Century Society. Dr Elain Harwood (Senior Investigator,  Historic England) was a guest contributor.

In addition, Dr Harwood; Catherine Croft (Director, the Twentieth Century Society); Dr Alistair Fair (Edinburgh College of Art); Dr Daryl Martin (Director of the Centre for URBan Studies (CURB), University of York); and Dr Sam Wetherell (University of York) were guest critics for the project. As Dr Mardell explains:

The guest critics critiqued the students’ embryonic thoughts on, and approaches to, the buildings they were researching, usually in the presence of the objects on site. It was very active, walking around looking at things together, when possible. Several gave introductions to their own work too.

As preparation for researching and writing the vignettes and working towards web-based publication, the students also attended a series of talks by guest speakers, which further enhanced their participation in the project, centred on honing a set of relevant and transferable skills. Speakers were:  Dr Lu Cooke (Department of Archaeology, University of York), Dr Marjorie Coughlan (York Art History Collaborations (YAHCS), University of York), Helena Cox (University of York Art Collection), Duncan Marks (York Civic Trust), Eddy Rhead (The Modernist Society), and Thaddeus Zupančič (Twentieth Century Society).

Following the development of an unpublished pilot website designed by Marjorie Coughlan (University of York), also the editor of the final website, the stunning YorkC20 website was designed by Rafaela Dražić; the developer was Elvis Krstulović.

A further resource created during the project is the attractive and useful York C20 Map.  Printed copies were distributed at the launch and made publicly available through York Explore Library; and it is freely available as a download from the York C20 website.

The York C20 project was supported by a grant from the University of York HRC Place and Community Knowledge Exchange fund: read more about York C20 on the Place and Community website.

The website was officially launched on Thursday 27 October, at a live event held at Kings Manor, University of York, with people from further afield joining the talks online.

Professor Michael White (University of York) gave the welcome and Joshua Mardell introduced the website. Dr Jane Grenville OBE FSA (University of York/York Civic Trust) was guest of honour and spoke about her forthcoming new edition of Pevsner's Yorkshire: The North Riding (April 2023). Finn Walsh and Richard Burrows also gave presentations about their experience working on the York C20 project.

The presentations were followed by a wine and cake reception to celebrate the new website.

Both sides of a map highlighting buildings in York

The York C20 Map

People giving presentations in front of a screen

Presentations at the launch of the York C20 website

Lots of people gathered together for an informal wine reception

The York C20 launch

A group in a line, posing for the camera

Dr Jane Grenville (far left) with Dr Joshua Mardell (third from left) and some of the students who took part in the York C20 project.

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