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The National Computing Centre - White Heat, False Logic

Brook, Richard (2019) The National Computing Centre - White Heat, False Logic. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. ISSN 0037-9808 (In Press)

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Abstract

Using a case study of Britain’s first National Computing Centre (Cruickshank & Seward, 1967-1974), drawing primarily on archival sources, the essay explores the agency of people and policy in the production of material space. The extended study of more than three decades of events, centred upon the city of Manchester, uses the concept of regionality as a spatial fix to provide a thick description of the actors and their networks and how these influenced site selection and, ultimately, the architectural design and realization of a politically important post-war project. Set against the backdrop of the Cold War, nuclear cultures and the attendant focus on computing technology, this extended narrative situates architecture as both negotiated practice and the unfinished project. In so doing it serves to reveal the productive value of the study of the city region and mainstream modern architecture.

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