Reconstructing modernity assesses the character of approaches to rebuilding British cities during the decades after the Second World War. It explores the strategies of spatial governance that sought to restructure society and looks at the cast of characters who shaped these processes. It challenges traditional views of urban modernism and sheds new light on the importance of the immediate post-war period for the trajectory of urban renewal in the twentieth century.
The book shows how local corporations and town planners in Manchester and Hull attempted to create order and functionality through the remaking of their decrepit Victorian cities during the mid-twentieth century. It looks at the motivations of national and local governments in the post-war rebuilding process and explores why and how they attempted the schemes they did. It shows how their efforts were contested by various actors; from businesses and commercial interests to shopkeepers and citizens going about their everyday life. Local corporations, the primary drivers of redevelopment, were moderate technocrats who believed that the ordering of space could produce more functional cities and better societies.
It examines plans and policies designed to produce and govern lived spaces - shopping centres, housing estates, parks, schools and homes - and shows how and why they succeeded or failed. It demonstrates how the material space of the city, and how people used and experienced it, was and is crucial in understanding historical change in urban contexts. The book is aimed at those interested in urban modernism, town planning, the urban histories of post-war Britain and social housing.