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The rise and fall of the high-density madmen

Post-war British architecture often gets a bad rap. But it wasn’t all concrete and cars—some, like my father Peter Self, wanted to created urban living spaces on a human scale

Elephant And Castle shopping centre. Photo: Chronicle / Alamy Stock Photo

In 1965, Frederic Osborn responded to the Sunday Times’s characterisation of “two apparently irreconcilable groups of people who want to determine the character of our future towns and cities.” According to the newspaper these two schools were dubbed—in mutual antipathy—“water colour” and “arrogant, intellectual, theorising, high-density madmen.” Osborn, a leading light of the first Garden City group, made his remarks in a letter to the chairman of the Cumbernauld…

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