Replanning post-war Birmingham

Peter J. Larkham

From the Journal: Architectura

Published online:

30 Dec 2016



The problems and opportunities of post-war reconstruction in the UK are well demonstrated by the city of Birmingham, although what happened there is hardly typical of the country overall. The city was badly bombed, although damage was diffuse. Unusually, no formal ›reconstruction plan‹ was produced because city managers distrusted ›big plans‹, and because there were existing slum clearance plans and ring road aspirations. A new ring road and precinct developments dominated the rebuilt city centre, though the development process was slow and generated very mixed public responses. The architectural and urban forms created were also mixed, but concrete and brutalism reshaped the city’s image. Some of the buildings have not lasted well and were redeveloped after relatively short lives, and the technocentric, car-dominated approach has also failed, with sections of ring road also being redeveloped. This paper demonstrates that even a determined, single-minded approach to reconstruction takes decades to implement; and that changes in fashion and society may very quickly render that reconstruction obsolete

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