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Cover

Boom Cities

Architect Planners and the Politics of Radical Urban Renewal in 1960s Britain

Otto Saumarez Smith

September 2020

ISBN: 9780198865193

208 pages
Paperback
216x138mm

In Stock

Price: £22.99

In this volume, Otto Saumarez Smith recounts the fraught history of the urban development of British city centres in the 1960s, uncovering the planning philosophy, and the political, cultural, and legislative background that created the conditions for these transformations to occur across the country.

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Description

In this volume, Otto Saumarez Smith recounts the fraught history of the urban development of British city centres in the 1960s, uncovering the planning philosophy, and the political, cultural, and legislative background that created the conditions for these transformations to occur across the country.

  • The first published history of the profound transformations of British city centres in the 1960s
  • Details the rise and fall of modernist urban planning, including the political and social drivers and consequences
  • Provides an unconventional account of the end of modernist approaches to the built environment

About the Author(s)

Otto Saumarez Smith, Assistant Professor in Architectural History, University of Warwick

Otto Saumarez Smith is an architectural and urban historian, and is an Assistant Professor in Art History at the University of Warwick.

Table of Contents

    Introduction
    1:Optimism, Traffic, and the Historic City in Post-war British Planning
    2:Blue, White and Red Heat: Central Government and City Centre Redevelopment
    3:Blackburn Goes Pop: City Centre Redevelopment in a Provincial City
    4:Planning for Affluence: Graeme Shankland and the Political Culture of the British Left
    5:Modernism in an Old Country: Lionel Brett, an Establishment Architect-planner
    6:The Trajectory of Central Area Redevelopment
    Bibliography

Reviews

"ingeniously researched, well-written and subtly argued study" - David Kynaston, Times Literary Supplement

"if you're interested in the motives that inspired the wholesale reshaping of our town and city centres in the Sixties, he has a tale worth telling ... Boom Cities is well-stocked with interesting and revealing quotes ... 4 stars" - Michael Bird, The Telegraph

"Otto Saumarez Smith, author of Boom Cities, a book on postwar planning, writes with balance, perception and wit." - Rowan Moore, The Observer

"A most terrific book that should, in all honesty, have been written years ago." - David Marx, David Marx:Book Reviews

"Boom Cities is much more than a book about buildings. It is instead a study about town planning, welfare and the politics of affluence, and hence central to the history of mid-20th century Britain. Boom Cities may be a slim volume but it is packed with insights which make it an essential reference point for the new urban social history that is rapidly—and excitingly—emerging." - Professor Simon Gunn, University of Leicester, Reviews in History

"Saumarez Smith writes deftly and has a deep understanding of his subject" - Elain Harwood, Literary Review

"hugely readable and fascinating" - Helen Goodwin, Architecture Today

"Saumarez Smith is a very good writer — frequently insightful, often very funny. He has convincingly argued that the work and world of the architect-planner are valuable for understanding the complex of forces that transformed city centres in Britain in the 1960s. He has supported that argument through a careful and sympathetic reading of local government and private archives." - Planning Perspectives

"This is a brilliantly researched and very readable book." - Michael Taylor, Context

"Saumarez Smith demonstrates that the urban plans of the 1960s were shaped by forces that are still central to contemporary practice: the need to use urban renewal to reduce inequalities and yet serve an affluent citizenry; the requirement to balance the needs of a local community against the developer's profit motive; and the desire to insert new forms into the historic cityscape thoughtfully. The resonances with contemporary practice are clear throughout this book: Boom Cities is therefore essential reading not just for historians of 20th century architecture and urbanism, but also for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the development of the contemporary planning profession." - Ewan Harrison, The RIBA Journal

"Otto Saumarez Smith's [has written a] detailed and engrossing book about the mid-20th-century boom in urban redevelopment ... That the book ends with a sense of "tragedy" and "intense disillusionment" is less of a judgement on the characters involved and more on the inherent penny-pinching — or money-misdirecting, perhaps — of the British political class when presented with the chance to create a dignifying, elevating, equalising public realm. The strength of Boom Cities lies in its insistence that blaming individuals for the failures of a whole political and economic system is too easy. It makes us see the things that should have been different, and the ways in which they could still be." - Lynsey Hanley, New Statesman

"In his meticulous new book Boom Cities, Otto Saumarez Smith wishes us to understand British architect-planners' activities in the 1960s and respect their objectives." - Will Self, Prospect Magazine