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Planning the 'City of Tomorrow': British Reconstruction Planning, 1939-52 - An Annotated Bibliography

Peter Larkham and Keith Lilley. Inch's Books, 2001. 65pp. £9.95 (Available from 01751 474928)

This little book appears at an apposite moment, writes John Bancroft . Today when we have to implement the brownfield message of the architect-led Urban Task Force, it is salutary to see how our predecessors approached the urban planning needs of their time.

Planning the 'City of Tomorrow' is far more than a mere list of reports and plans produced to deal with reconstruction after the Second World War.

Peter Larkham and Keith Lilley are not dry academics. Clearly they are fired by their shared interest in urban form and delight in the documents that underlie our post-war rebuilding.

The range of contents is comprehensive. From a table supplying 'a context for studying wartime and post-war reconstruction plans', we learn that 16 architect-planners (including Lutyens) authored the majority of the commissioned reports. Thomas Sharp, the most prolific with 10, was paid 500 guineas for Todmorden in 1945 but 2,500 guineas for Oxford in 1948.The latter, like several other of the reports, was published by the Architectural Press.

The popular element is not ignored: Sharp's Town Planning sold a quarter of a million copies during the war. Among other inclusions are social surveys, regional/county plans, biographies of planners, and some non-UK reconstruction plans.

This modest book is a must for any architect concerned with the planning of towns. Inch's Books, a specialist bookseller in York, is to be congratulated on its venture into publishing.

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