This drawing in pencil and pentel pen which I did earlier this year, recalls a cycle journey out from Airdrie, as a 15-year-old on my first visit to the New Town of Cumbernauld in 1967 . It appeared to me, then, and again five years later when I returned as an architecture student, that it was the one place in our country where you might look through the tear in the fabric of a 19th-century Presbyterian Scotland, still the core of all our postwar towns and glimpse the 21st century.
Others across the world also saw this light and made great journeys to understand the experiment that was going on here. As if attuned to the echoes of 20 centuries from this outpost of Antonine’s Roman legions, the Italian engineer Pier Luigi Nervi turned up to see Cumbernauld, as did Banham. Another visitor, Lewis Mumford, comments in his essay for the Architectural Record of 1963 (‘Social complexity and urban design’), that ‘if there has been a flaw in this development it is only that it has proceeded so rapidly that it has not been able to incorporate the result of past experiments and recent urban experience.’
The accompanying essay first appeared in Architectural Design 21 – Man Made Megastructures, in 2006.