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Outram, John

Outram, John (1934– ). British architect. He established a practice in London in 1973 and produced a series of robust buildings in which polychromy and Classical allusions were well to the fore. Among his best works were the temple-like Storm Water Pumping Station, Isle of Dogs, London (1985–8), and Wadhurst Park, Sussex (1978–86), the latter perhaps the most remarkable and original country-house erected in England since the 1939–45 war, in which colour was used with great subtlety, and the plan derives much from the Classical tradition. In 1999–2000 he added a Millennium Verandah to the house, featuring columns that owe something to Indian, Sumerian, and other cultures. The extensions and re-organization of Digby Wyatt's Addenbrooke's Old Hospital as the Judge Institute of Management Studies, Cambridge (1993–5), is boldly imaginative, disciplined, scholarly, and tough, combining the trabeated language of Classical architecture with the engineering components necessary in a modern building. Services were incorporated within what Outram has called the ‘Robot Order’ (Ordine Robotico, or ‘Sixth Order’, described by a defender of the Modernist faith as ‘sheer terrorism’), not coyly hidden away, but expressed as a new Order visible throughout the building as the columns and beams were large enough to contain the services. Responding to Wyatt's polychromy, Outram created his own brilliant, colourful architecture, intellectually and theoretically based on precedent, while incorporating late-C20 technology. His work has attracted the opprobrium of architects and architectural critics, but this has not deterred him from arguing his case with spirit, and building the Egyptian House, Oxon. (2000), Craft Workshops, Nottingham (2000), retail development, the Old Town Hall, The Hague, The Netherlands (2000), and a masterpiece, Duncan Hall, Rice University, Houston, TX (1992–6), in which Egyptianizing, Classical, and other historical references are treated with verve and imagination. He has also launched ferocious (and justified) critiques of the dismal record of Athens Charter-inspired British town planning since 1945.

Bibliography

British Council (1991);
Kalman (1994);
Outram (2003);
personal knowledge
Weston (2002a)

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