Dr Otto Saumarez Smith


I am an architectural and urban historian. My current research explores a constellation of ideas about the radical renewal of the central areas of British cities in the early to mid 1960s. It focuses on the plans created by architect-planners for British city centres. It places these plans within their cultural and political context. It is a history of what William Holford described as 'the Utopian urge to reconstruct the core of the old metropolis, to bring order out of disorder, to counter sprawl by concentration, to create a symbol of efficiency – a Welfare City in a Welfare State.'

I am also interested in leisure centres, post-war university architecture, shopping centres, and the workings of the Ministry of Housing and Local Government. I have written about architectural practices including Gillespie, Kidd & Coia; Chamberlin Powell & Bon; Sheppard Robson; Building Design Partnership; Howell, Killick, Partridge & Amis; and Powell & Moya. .

  • The Lost World of the British Leisure Centre Boom

  • The Inner City Crisis and the End of Urban Modernism in 1970s Britain

  • Central government and town-centre redevelopment in Britain, 1959-1966

  • More