Monday, August 12, 2013

Tonight: 'Unbuilt Britain' Series Begins

Tonight sees the beginning of a new architecture series on BBC Four looking at some of the ambitious designs never to the leave the drawing board. 'Dreaming the Impossible: Unbuilt Britain' will look at some of the grandest and mapcap ideas ever proposed to leave us contemplating city landscapes which might have been.

The series is presented by architecture historian Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner, expert in seventeenth century, British architecture. In tonight's programme, entitled 'Glass Houses', she uses her knowledge base to explore architect Sir Joseph Paxton's controversial design in 1855 to build a ten-mile glass transport loop around the centre of London. The ostentatious, and highly-expensive design was abandoned despite a sanctioning bill reaching Parliament, due to the outbreak of cholera in the mid-nineteenth century. Intriguingly however, the plan was resurrected 100 years later by architect Geoffrey Jellicoe as an answer to solving London's congestion problems. Inspired by Paxton, Jellicoe's design for a transport green belt favoured the use of glass, even going as far as to suggest a 'glass city' which would radicalise the transport system beyond all recognition...

The Unbuilt Britain series is comprised of three programmes all looking at the influence of technology on urban planning and design. If this gets you thinking, why not also check out broadcaster Jonathan Glancey's brilliant radio series on BBC Radio 4 of the same title.