Saturday, 17 November 2012

The Transformation of Urban Britain

Drawing/collage by Gordon Cullen, Architectural Review, July 1953

Gordon Cullen produced a number of illustrations and articles for the Architectural Review throughout the 1950s and 60s (as well as providing some very cool drawings for Homes for Today and Tomorrow, a key report on housing standards produced by the Government’s Central Housing Advisory Committee in 1961). The above drawing was made for J.M. Richards' polemic against low-density developments, 'Failure of the New Towns' (AR 7-1953, pp. 29-32) which was followed by a piece by Cullen entitled 'Prairie Planning in the New Towns' - something that I will write about in more detail with regard to the Middlefield Lane estate in a forthcoming post. In these articles, both Richards and Cullen were already beginning to push for a denser, more robust urbanism in opposition to the garden-city-like New Towns. 

Such debates were long and complex and, sixty years on, there's still a lot of thinking to be done here in relation to new towns and council estates in particular, and the post-war urbanisation of the country in general. The days are getting shorter and colder and I'm already looking forward to next summer when I shall be going to this:

The Transformation of Urban
Britain Since 1945
A conference organised by the Centre for Urban History, University of Leicester, 9-10 July 2013

which promises to shed some much needed light on issues like these, and to hopefully nurture a network of scholars and practitioners on post-war urban Britain. 

For more details, see

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