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Milton Keynes is Britain’s largest new city. Planned between 1967 and 1970, and steered into being by the Milton Keynes Development Corporation until 1992, MK was the product of visionary Anglo-American town planning in the Sixties. The key figure was Lord Llewelyn Davies, a Labour peer and transatlantic socialite. Sadly, the low-density, mobile and expansive way of life envisaged for the citizens of the new city was subject to grim reinterpretations by some architectural practices in their layouts for the residential areas (gridsquares), giving the new city a bad reputation by 1980.

This lecture will show how some key architects such as Jeremy Dixon and Norman Foster Associates misinterpreted the Plan for Milton Keynes, and damaged social development in the new city. Thankfully, other architects such as Ralph Erskine and Wayland Tunley provided more aesthetically acceptable housing, and understood the meaning of the road grid. The more market-orientated housing of the 1980s and since also produced a more popular and habitable place.

Dr Mark Clapson is Reader in History at the University of Westminster. His research focuses on the relationship between social change, urban change and town planning. Among his publications are A Social History of Milton Keynes:Middle England/Edge City (2004) and Working-Class Suburb:Social Change on an English Council Estate, 1930-2010 (2012).

Remaining schedule

Everyone is welcome to attend.