Jonathan Meades’ – Jerry Building

Thought I’d share an (old) documentary I enjoyed, and enjoyed all the more for its featuring some hist-sci buildings. If you don’t like Meades though, it’s not for you.


I think he sums up the programme in his adaptation of Hannah Arendt’s phrase “The banality of evil buildings”. You’ll get some of Einstein’s observatory, the training camps for SS doctors, Himmler’s ‘pseudo-science’ (the double negative of ‘scare quotes’ and ‘pseudo’ should not be translated as a positive) and the importance of agriculture and its links to eugenics. Science itself features hardly at all, and predictably not with much sophistication (to say the Nazi’s politicised biology, for instance, is meaningless. To demonstrate that biology at some point was apolitical, now, that would be worth commenting on.) I suppose the reason I enjoyed it most of all is that I am very conscious of how rarely historians of science, due either to lack of sufficient training or interest, neglect the architecture inspired by, transformed by, and produced for scientists. Plenty more for HPS to do, for now though, tours around buildings with Meades shall have to do.

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