English architect and educator John Andrews dies

John Andrews

John Andrews, an English architect and educator, died at his home in London on February 15. Andrews was enormously influential as a teacher and his work—drawings, exhibitions, installations, and design—should be better known. He created a website last year that highlights his work of 40-plus years. Andrews graduated from Chelsea Art School and the Architectural Association and was very keen to bring together the two disciplines, and this website was meant to be, in Andrews’s words, a “testimony to this commitment and a desire in a subtle way, to move forwards and backwards between action and reflection, between practice and academia. I believe that the idea of architecture is not limited to the domain of building; it is essentially about the structure of space. A recurrent question which surfaces throughout the quintet of titles in this site is the role of space-space as thought, perception, memory, interiority, and drama.”

Photo of small-scale artwork

Microworks (John Andrews)

We asked colleagues of Andrews for comments, and Nigel Coates sent this touching reminiscence and we publish it here in its entirety as a fitting tribute to the architect:

John joined Bernard Tschumi’s unit at the AA the year it began; he graduated a year after me, in 1975. We were all obsessed with Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and John’s diploma project was called Fendora, an exploration of one of Marco Polo’s fables as told to Kubla Khan. John’s Situationist style, of fleeting moments, hidden stairs, doors ajar was already fully formed.

He lived, like his family, in what was then a working class part of Islington at the beginning of the Essex Road. He was born there and carried on living there after his parents had gone, proud of his earthy connection with the eccentricities of Islington. He cut a snappy figure, the Tommy Steele of Architecture, a sharp suited lad with a heart of gold. Younger students thought he was the epitome of cool. He was. 

There was always something of the arty maverick too. The dreamy drawings would capture “atmosphere,” which is, I guess, what lead him to embrace the interior as a medium in its own right. That specialty took him to Melbourne and to Brighton University, where his indefatigable enthusiasm would push generations of students to look for more than decor in a room.

Related Stories