21 April 2023

It was such a shock and so sad to hear that Elain Harwood, the leading authority on post-war English architecture has died this week, at the age of 64. As everyone that met her will know, she was a true rock-goddess in the world of Modern heritage championship. She had a shining energy, a generous heart, an encyclopaedic knowledge, and an unstoppable energy. And she had a total dedication to encouraging others to appreciate what they may be missing in their appreciation of Modern architecture with humour and passion. I first met Elain in 2004 in our London Studio when she generously offered to help me plan my Churchill Fellowship in the Conservation of Modern Architecture. I’d never met her before but she bowled into our office and bowled me over with her charisma, knowledge and generosity of spirit. She helped me enormously and gave me a sense of what could be achieved. She subsequently helped us out as a practice regularly, making intelligent and direct contributions as we learned how to ‘Make More of Modernism’ in our creative reuse work, including at the Southbank Centre, where she contributed a brilliant chapter to our book on ‘The History of the South Bank’. Her passionate contributions combined a love of design with deep scholarship, and they were conveyed with a clear sense of pragmatism and realism. Her views enabled countless C20th buildings to stand a better chance of being appreciated in our rapidly changing world - something we all perhaps need now more than ever. I last saw Elain in February this year at a Historic England Historic Places Panel visit to Portsmouth. On a bitterly cold day, she arrived in her bright orange coat and DMs and informed, amused, delighted and inspired us all. Everywhere seemed brighter and warmer in her company that day, as ever. RIP Elaine; you will live on as a lasting inspiration to us. Geoff Rich, Managing Partner and Creative Reuse Lead