Lloyd's building, London

Bowellism is a modern architectural style heavily associated with Richard Rogers. It is described as a transient architectural and flippant style that was influenced by Le Corbusier and Antoni Gaudí.[1] The style consists of services for the building, such as ducts, sewage pipes, and lifts, being located on the exterior to maximise space in the interior.


The style originated with Michael Webb's 1957 student project for a Furniture Manufacturers Association building in High Wycombe.[2][3][4] Webb coined the term in response to a comment on his design by Sir Nikolaus Pevsner in a 1961 lecture, in which he recalled hearing the words: "within the schools there are some disturbing trends; I saw the other day a design for a building that looked like a series of stomachs sitting on a plate. Or bowels, connected by bits of gristle".[5] Thus this inside-out style was termed 'Bowellism' because of how it recalled the way the human body works. One of Webb's proposed structures based on bowellism was the Sin Centre for Leicester Square. The concept was a geodesic structure that supports a glass skin.[6]

Some scholars cite Reyner Banham as the first to use bowellism for the new architectural fascination with visible circulation, one that focuses on a building's skeletal services as well as its "bloodstream" or the moving cars and crowd, cascading down from the top to the main foyers - all visible through the structure's geodesic skin.[7] Banham is also credited for introducing the term "topological" to refer to an aspect of brutalism.[4]

The Pompidou Centre, Paris

Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano continued the style with the design of the Pompidou Centre in Paris, described as a "vast exercise in Bowellism",[8] so the floor space of the interior could be maximised to fully appreciate the exhibitions.[9]


Rotterdam Library, Rotterdam

See also


  1. ^ Choice: Publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association. American Library Association. 1977. p. 1028.
  2. ^ Geoffrey Howard Baker, The Architecture of James Stirling and His Partners James Gowan and Michael Wilford: A Study of Architectural Creativity in the Twentieth Century, Farnham, Surrey / Burlington, Vermont: Ashgate, 2011, ISBN 9781409409267, p. 158.
  3. ^ Radical Post-Modernism, ed. Charles Jencks, FAT, Architectural Design 81.5, Profile 213, Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2011, ISBN 978-0-470-66988-4, p. 107.
  4. ^ a b Simon Sadler, Archigram: Architecture Without Architecture, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT, 2005, p. 23, 1.11, 1.12 caption, calling bowellism a "micromovement".
  5. ^ Samantha Hardingham and David Greene, The disreputable projects of David Greene, Architectural Association Publications 2007-10-01, OCLC 811429228, pdf Archived December 17, 2013, at the Wayback Machine p. 44.
  6. ^ Baker, Geoffrey Howard (2011). The Architecture of James Stirling and His Partners James Gowan and Michael Wilford: A Study of Architectural Creativity in the Twentieth Century. Surrey: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-4094-0926-7.
  7. ^ Sadler, Simon (2005). Archigram: Architecture Without Architecture. MIT Press. pp. 27. ISBN 978-0-262-69322-6.
  8. ^ Jonathan Richards, Facadism, London: Routledge, 1994, ISBN 9780415083164, p. 60.
  9. ^ Richard Rogers, Architects, From Here to Modernity, archived at the Wayback Machine, 15 March 2004.