Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Stirrat Andrew William Johnson-Marshall |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||19 February 1912 |
|Died: ||16 December 1981 |
|Bio Notes: ||Stirrat Andrew William Johnson-Marshall was born on 19 February 1912 in India, the elder son of Felix William Norman Johnson-Marshall, a civil servant of Scottish descent who administered the salt trade, and his wife Kate Jane Little. Since his father worked abroad in India and Iraq, he boarded at the Queen Elizabeth School at Kirkby Lonsdale where he excelled at sport, being captain of cricket and rugby, and was head boy. |
From 1930-35 he studied architecture at the University of Liverpool. He passed the final exam in June 1935 and was awarded a First Class honours degree. As a student Johnson-Marshall was influenced by the teachings of Walter Gropius who visited Liverpool during this time. During the summer of 1934 he worked as an assistant with Mercalf & Metcalf and from August 1935 he worked as an assistant in the Architect's Department in the Borough of Willsden and later at the Isle of Ely. He was elected ARIBA in 1936, his proposers being Lionel B Budden, Leonard Holcombe Bucknell and Gilbert Henry Lovegrove. The following year he married Joan Mary Brighouse, whom had had met when she was a fellow student in the school of Architecture at Liverpool. Her father was an architect and he had worked for him during his summer holidays. The couple had three sons (his second son died young) and a daughter.
His career was interrupted by the Second World War during which he served with the Royal Engineers, latterly in Singapore from which he narrowly escaped through his own initiative the night before its capitulation. He returned to England and was posted to the camouflage development and training centre at Farnham Castle. He worked on the design and construction of decoy tanks and guns, from which he learnt much about the process of designing and manufacturing a new product which was to have a lasting effect on him and remained fundamental to his hope of a revitalised building industry.
From 1945-48 he worked as Deputy County Architect with Hertfordshire County Council, serving under the leadership of C H Aslin. With the support of a far-sighted education officer and a number of enterprising industrialists, Hertfordshire became the pioneer in the design and production of prefabricated school buildings which were evolved into efficient and elegant structures which could be adapted to many different situations. They were able to meet the need to construct a large number new schools in the post-war period far faster than traditional building methods would have allowed. The Hertfordshire schools attained world-wide fame. Johnson-Marshall was the driving force behind this initiative.
In 1948 Johnson-Marshall was invited to take the post of Chief Architect in the Ministry of Education. His experience in Hertfordshire was made available to other local authorities. The Ministry became an influential centre for research and innovation in the relationship of school building to educational methods. He established an outstanding development team which explored new problems in practical projects. In 1954 he was awarded the CBE.
However he moved away from the public sector in 1956 when he went into private practice in partnership with Sir Robert Matthew as Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall (in 1961 becoming Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners) – known as RMJM. Together they built up a practice which achieved high standards in design as well as efficiency. However the two men were very different and the two offices, in London and in Edinburgh, were run virtually separately for a number of years. Johnson-Marshall was in charge of the London office. He pursued his ideal of a better way of building through prefabrication. Among the projects in which Johnson-Marshall was personally involved and in which were the universities of York (where the earlier buildings were based on a modified version of the CLASP system) and of Bath as well as the Commonwealth institute and Central Lancashire New Town. He was elected FRIBA in April 1964, his proposers being Robert Matthew, Peter Arthur Newnham and Maurice William Lee. He was knighted in 1971. He retired from Sir Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners in 1978 and moved to Gloucestershire but continued to have a small local practice in Bristol.
In the 1950s Johnson-Marshall championed the cause of public architect members of the RIBA to make the institute into a socially concerned body which worked to improve the competence and political influence of the profession. He later served on the council and was vice-president in 1964-65.
As a person he was generous and modest but this disguised a ruthless determination to get done what he believed it was right to do. He believed that the interaction between buildings and people such as light, colour, sound, control of temperature and air movement was all important. The needs of the client were paramount and often he quoted the painter Fernand Léger when he said 'Architecture is not an art. It's a natural function of the social order'.
Johnson-Marshall died on 16 December 1981 in his Bristol office.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Curtis Hill, Hillesley, Gloucestershire, England||Private|| ||1981|| |
|Cloudsway/22, New Road, Digswell, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, England||Private||1936 *|| || |
|Curzon Street, London, England||Business||c. 1954|| || |
|Ferguson House/15-17, Marylebone Road, London, England||Business||1960s|| || |
|42-46, Weymouth Street, London, England||Business||Late 1970s|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Bailey, Rebecca M||1996||Scottish architects' papers: a source book|| ||Edinburgh: The Rutland Press||p136|
|DNB|| ||Dictionary of National Biography|| || ||Entry by Andrew Derbyshire|
|Glendinning, Miles||2008||Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew|| ||RIBA Publishing|| |
|RIBA||1954||RIBA Kalendar 1953-54|| || || |
|RIBA||1964||The RIBA Kalendar 1963-64|| || || |
|RIBA||1979||Directory of members|| || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Architects Journal||18 December 1952|| || ||p72|
|The Times||18 December 1981|| || ||p14 Obituary|
|The Times||22 December 1981|| || ||p12 Obituary|
|The Times||24 December 1981|| || ||p8 Obituary|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||A no6065, F no682 (combined Box 100?) Check this reference|