Top positive review
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A good overview of post-war buildings
on 21 February 2015
A very personal and idiosyncratic book about Britain's post-war building boom.
Having been born in a new town, I moved to another one after a few years in London, and have visited a few others, so I found some chapters absolutely fascinating. They were not actually about either of the towns I lived in, but I'm pretty sure the issues were the same.
But the book isn't just about the new towns. Much as it would have increased the chances of me getting to read about Crawley or Basildon, it would have just been the same story over and over again. Instead, there are also sections about the precursors to the new towns (Letchworth), the inner city redevelopment of Newcastle, Sheffield and Glasgow, the Festival of Britain and the National Theatre, Coventry cathedral, the Barbican and the Elephant & Castle. Oh, and Milton Keynes, New Addington/Croydon and some places I had never heard of.
I liked the objective approach to the book. It seems that commentators on architecture or planning are either completely dismissive of anything made from concrete or completely brutalist, but this is a lot more nuanced, admiring what is admirable about, say the Cumbernauld town centre or Sheffield's Park Hill estate while not ignoring what was wrong with them
While this is essential for anybody living in a new town who wants to understand a bit more about how they came about I think it will interest just about anybody.