Postwar urbanism and visionary planning in Great Britain
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Ideal and visionary ideas have always been important to architecture and planning. While ideal and visionary ideas are rarely applied to their full extent, it is important the ideal be maintained. The importance of ideal or visionary designs and plans can be examined by looking at British architecture and planning in the postwar period into the 1960s. Both the work of Alison and Peter Smithson and of Archigram can be examined as embodying criticisms of postwar reconstruction planning and its failure to address the wants, desires, and aspirations of the postwar society, the perceived “backwardness” of the architectural establishment at the time, and its lack of new discourse. British architecture and planning in the postwar period lost sight of the ideals and visions for a new city which had been produced during the war. Public demand, shortage of materials, and economic problems led to a rebuilding of structures as they had been. As a result, reconstruction became a bland, sterile process that lacked innovation and vision. The architectural establishment came to be viewed as “backward” and as not addressing the needs of a rapidly changing society. The Smithsons and Archigram can be viewed as a reaction to how reconstruction had been carried out. Both were important to restoring the ideal and vision to architecture and planning and by doing so, sparking a new architectural discourse. Their ideas, theories, and plans for structures and cities (real and imaginary) have had a longlasting impact on architecture and planning, thus illustrating the importance of the ideal and visionary in architecture and planning.