Bolschevism of the international eccentricies in architecture

In 1931 The Irish Builder and Engineer published 2-pages long article about Sir Reginald Bloomfield’s views on modern architecture. (4.3.1) Sir Reginald (1856-1942) was a British Victorian and Edwardian periods architect renowned for his grand architectural schemes in England and Europe. Needless to say that his descriptions of the contemporary modern architecture as ‘vulgar, eccentric or mere architectural stunt’ made him somewhat critical of the movement that was gaining popularity in the continent.



The editors of The Irish Builder and Engineer fully agree with his views adding to array of insults that the modern architecture is misusing, or even worse – abandoning, the most ‘sacred’ architectural Orders!
In line with the omnipresent policy of economical, and as a result – cultural isolationism the modern architecture is accused of being cosmopolitical.


Better learn your Dorics and Ionics, or else the architectural Bolschevists are here to get you.


Water-powered country

2017 marks 90 years since the creation of the Electricity Supply Board in Ireland, a state-owned company created to manage country’s overall supply of the electricity. This was a direct result of a huge undertaking that was the Ardnacrusha Hydroelectric Scheme on river Shannon in county Clare.

Despite the claims that it was the world’s first electrification scheme (3.4.1) – let’s award this title to Soviet political V.I. Lenin’s testament: the GOELRO national electrification plan of 1920 – this was the cutting edge world technology employed in rural Ireland.  The scheme was widely published in the newspapers around the world at the time.

The construction that took only 4 years from start to becoming fully operational in 1929 at the cost of  £5 000 000 (about a quarter of the annual budget of Ireland).

Commemorative plaque at the entrance to the power station.

While the power station today is not as important in the overall production of electricity (only around 2% of the national requirement is generated by Ardnacrusha, as opposed to nearly 100% in 1929), despite its age it’s still a viable and sustainable source of electricity.

Lock tower and the headrace canal leading to the power station. Photographed in 2017.

To mark the anniversary – for July and August in 2017 ESB is offering free guided tours of the power station to all interested in the scheme. It would be a hugely missed opportunity, so the trip to the countryside was necessary.

Francis-type turbine from one of the generators is now serving as a water feature at the entrance to the power station. In front there is memorial wit all the names of people that died during the construction of the scheme. Photographed in 2017.

Progress. What for?

1932-04-11 Building materials

What a lovely contrast can be seen between the editors of The Irish Builder and Engineer in the 1930s, and the Le Corbusier’s modernist manifesto published almost a decade earlier. There is no doubt that the Irish journal was on the rather conservative side. This passage from the 1931 journal’s edition [4.2.1] clearly expresses the attitude of the writer towards the progress in the construction industry.

Modern = electricity


An advertisement for the Elecricity Supply Board (ESB) published in The Irish Builder and Engineer in 1931 [4.1.1] clearly stating that the modern living equals modern domestic electric wiring. Very convincing associated graphic in Art Deco style.  One free socket supplied with every 8 lighting points! Not much for modern standards, but to put it in context – it was only 2 years after huge electrification of Ireland project for Shannon hydroelectric power plant was started.

As a matter of curiosity – this advertisement was the only mention of ‘modernity’ in the whole issue of the journal.