Arch.Land.Infra. runs alongside the Post-War Infrastructure Research Network at MSA coordinated by Richard Brook, Laura Coucill and Luca Csepely-Knorr. Through archival research, combined with oral histories and design analysis techniques, this year, the workshop produced case studies of Warrington, Skelmersdale, Telford and Redditch New Towns.
The New Towns programme reflected the spirit of optimism and social reconstruction following WWII. Predicated on the ideals of Howard’s Garden City (1898, republished 1902) and developed through Abercrombie’s Greater London Plan (1944), the New Towns programme designated areas for planned development that avoided the unplanned rapid industrialisation of the nineteenth century to provide a considered spatial solution to population growth, employment and industry, recreation and transport as part of a broader objective to modernise society and its underpinning infrastructure.
This year, JMCE funding was secured to support a lecture and workshop from Janina Gosseye (ETH Zurich) who, through her archival research on Runcorn New Town, presented a European perspective on the UK New Towns Programme. Michala Hulme, an Historian based at the Manchester Centre for Public History & Heritage, gave a detailed introduction to oral history interviewing and analysis which supported live engagement with communities in each of the towns and with surviving architects and landscape architects to uncover insights into the relationship between design intentions and the lived experiences of post-war New Towns. Analysis took creative forms building on design skills to represent research findings in the form of diagrams, maps, drawings and models. A number of students developed their research further through their dissertation topics and a digital exhibition of the work is planned in connection with The Modernist Society, later this year.