Planning After the 1666 Great Fire of London

Revisiting a collected effort to reshape one of the world's most famous cities after a catastrophic disaster.
January 26, 2016, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Adam Forrest provides a history of the planning effort that followed the Great Fire of London in 1666. According to Forrest, after the tragedy, "Some saw an opportunity to transform London, to clear away the overcrowded warren of cobbled streets and narrow alleys that spread the fire and forge a greater, more elegant city from the ashes."

The five masterplans produced out of the need to reconstruct the city are the subject of a new exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects titled Creation from Catastrophe – How Architecture Rebuilds Communities. "Although none of the designs came to pass in the last decades of the 17th century," write Forrest, "the five original post-fire plans offer fascinating glimpses of what might have been if London had been set free of its medieval street pattern."

The article includes discussion of five of the masterplans, the changes they proposed, and details about how the plan did change, with the influence of these plans or without.

Robert Bevan provides additional coverage of the event, in an article cleverly titled with the phrase "a tale of new cities."

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Published on Monday, January 25, 2016 in The Guardian Cities
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