Dan Cruickshank’s Architectural Explorations

AN ELGIN EXCLUSIVE FEATURE By Surabhi Sunil

Every street in London contains a story and Dan Cruickshank is here with an invitation to hear them. The British Art historian and BBC television presenter has a special interest in architecture and all its wonders.
Image by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies, National Portrait Gallery London
Human life is given meaning, focus, direction: by the past. -Dan Cruickshank in BBC4 The Road to Palmyra.

Born in August 1949, Cruickshank holds a BA in Art, Design and Architecture and is also a visiting faculty and honorary fellow of many reputed names such as the Royal Institute of British Artists. He mostly stuck to Britain and Ireland, exploring their culture, architecture and the effect of multiple incidents on the country, but on a rare occasion, he took one of his shows outside the British Isles.

Writer, Presenter and Consultant, That’s how Cruickshank’s journey with the BBC started. Following ‘One Foot in the Past’ and ‘The House Detectives’, in 2001 he wrote and presented the series Invasion in which he examined attempts and plans to invade Britain and Ireland over the years by exploring coastal fortresses and defensive structures around the coast of the country to discover their military heritage.

Image by Unknown, BBC2
“In short, the building becomes a theatrical demonstration of its functional ideal. In this romanticism, High-Tech architecture is, of course, no different in spirit-if totally different in form-from all the romantic architecture of the past.”

In 2003, he wrote and presented how recent warfare had affected the country’s historic artefacts by visiting museums and buildings in the affected areas, Afghanistan, Iraq and Israel.
The World Trade Center in New York and rebuilding ground zero after the 9/11 attacks were the focal point of ‘Towering Ambitions: Dan Cruickshank at Ground Zero’. He presented and examined the debate and discussion that led to the selection of Daniel Libeskind’s design.
Perhaps his great success, Around the World in 80 Treasures came out in 2005. It chronicled Cruickshank’s journey over the course of five months to visit eighty man-made artefacts or buildings that he had selected charting man’s road map to civilization.

Image by Angela Wintle, Daily Mail
“I bought this house in 1977 while campaigning against the demolition of 18th-century houses here. It was a dramatic battle and I squatted in some properties with other members of The Spitalfields Trust to stop the developers.”

Dan Cruickshank is also the co-founder of The Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust, an architectural preservation charity based out of Britain. It was founded in 1977 to rescue the remaining Georgian houses in Spitalfields, London one of which Cruickshank and his family occupy.

The historian and broadcaster, has forged a reputation for erudition, wit and insight into the myriad ways that architects shape the human experience. His tales reveal not only the most important moments in history but also the forgotten characters who witnessed them all wrapped together as a beautiful and interesting history lesson that keeps you on your toes wanting more.