During the 1960s, buildings were going up in London
that still stand as evidence of the new theories that
were burgeoning among both architects and city halls
of the time.
     Across the city steel, concrete and glass began to replace the ubiquitous materials of brick and render. Flat roofs replaced pitches and domes and external decoration was eschewed in favour of the plain and unadorned. Concrete was used to such a degree by certain architects that the resulting style was called Brutalism – for example, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Hayward Gallery.
    Social housing underwent one of the biggest upheavals. The concept of high-rise flats with “streets in the air” and open spaces for community infrastructure at ground level was a powerful vision. Unfortunately only a few creations fulfilled the promise of those early dreams. A seminal event (the Ronan Point disaster) occurred in 1968 when a newly erected block suffered a gas explosion and partially collapsed. Its occupants died, shoddy practice came to light and a reappraisal of the whole subject began.
    Today design theories, material technology and planning laws have all moved on—but the lessons learned in the 60s are important ones and still have a profound impact on London. Join our architecture tours to consider such issues.  

©2009  60s London