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City Seminar: Dr. Otto Saumarez Smith (University of Oxford)

When Oct 18, 2016
from 05:30 PM to 07:00 PM
Where Boardroom, Department of Architecture
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This talk will explore a constellation of ideas about the radical renewal of the central areas of British cities in the early to mid 1960s. It focuses on the plans created by architect-planners for British city centres, placing these plans within their cultural and political context. It will be a history of what William Holford described as 'the Utopian urge to reconstruct the core of the old metropolis, to bring order out of disorder, to counter sprawl by concentration, to create a symbol of efficiency – a Welfare City in a Welfare State.' It will look at three particular themes: the growth of traffic, how planners thought about the historic city, and economic and social optimism.

Speaker Biography: 

I am an architectural and urban historian. My current research explores a constellation of ideas about the radical renewal of the central areas of British cities in the early to mid 1960s. It focuses on the plans created by architect-planners for British city centres. It places these plans within their cultural and political context. It is a history of what William Holford described as 'the Utopian urge to reconstruct the core of the old metropolis, to bring order out of disorder, to counter sprawl by concentration, to create a symbol of efficiency – a Welfare City in a Welfare State.'

I am also interested in leisure centres, post-war university architecture, shopping centres, and the workings of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. I have written about architectural practices including Gillespie, Kidd & Coia; Chamberlin Powell & Bon; Sheppard Robson; Building Design Partnership; Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis; and Powell & Moya.