the british magazine blueprint has in the past provided a key forum for the renaissance of design modernism in contemporary british architecture. during the 1980s under the editorship of deyan sudjic, who recruited writers including jonathan glancey, james woudhuysen, rowan moore, martin pawley, and rick poyner, the magazine became synonomous with britain’s burgeoning acceptance of modernism and growing obsession with design during the ‘eighties and ‘nineties. what marked blueprint’s approach and set it apart from other design and architecture publications such as the riba journal, was its independent, sometimes maverick, and often iconoclastic approach to the design field. blueprint was also very cool. it recognized that architecture and design were a nexus and focus for wider cultural issues of postmodernism, art, design and architecture as textual practices, in a fruitful dialogue with the cutting edge of other arts, photography, cinema, popular culture. along with its unusual large-size format, blueprint stuck out head and shoulders from other architectural pubications.
in recent years, under new corporate owners and changes of editor, together with indirect competition from mass market publications such as wallpaper*, and more directly from new design titles like icon it has had to do some serious soul searching. this is particularly so in these very difficult times for specialist print media. under the editorship of vicky richardson, a former writer of the riba journal, the magazine relaunched in 2006 and its concerns have been moving into a more sober appraisal of the contemporary architecture scene.
in these straitened times, where even the future of national newspapers such as the observer has been called into doubt, it will be indicative of the health of this publishing niche to see if blueprint can survive. as someone who has been associated with the magazine in the past, as avid reader in the ‘nineties, and occasional contributor during the ‘noughties, it’s something dear to my heart. my own view is that it needs to move itself away from being seen as an upmarket specialist trade journal, and return to the forefront of art-design-media experimentation, and get back some of that punk spirit and iconoclasm it had in the past.
one tradition in blueprint which has been maintained is the promotion of interesting new photography in its front pages. the image here is taken from work selected for a commission set to students on the theme of ‘new or critical aspects of the built environment’ — a nicely flexible brief.
For the January 2010 issue of Blueprint, our Opening Shot was provided by Chris Greenaway, a third year photography student at Winchester School of Art. Blueprint’s art director Patrick Myles set a brief asking the students to capture strange, new or critical aspects of the built environment. Presented here are the series of photographs taken by the students with an explanation of their shot. Chris Greenaway’s photograph (below) can also be seen in the print edition of the magazine.