Two Plans for London: #2
Wren wasn't the only one to have grand designs for this fair city. In 1951 architect and intellectual Thaddeus Roshanak unveiled his new for a rebuilt London to a breathless crowd in Methodist Central Hall. Roshanak was an arch-modernist and his plan displayed the clear influence of Le Corbusier's Plan Voisin for Paris, but was far, far more radical.
Under Plan Thaddeus, Central London from Ludgate to Bayswater and from Charing Cross to Regent's Park would be demolished. In its place would rise a new, modern city of gleaming white towers and broad, straight avenues. The railway stations would be combined into a new 72-platform central station, linked by tram to Paddington Airport, where Oxford Circus now is.
So far, so predictably Corbusier-style. But Roshanak's genius went further. None of his new streets would have corners, which he despised, and would thus only run east-west. Pedestrian traffic would be carried by looping travelators arranged in a stylised form of the coat of arms of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In a nod to the city's destroyed heritage, the 40-storey residential and business tower blocks of the centre would be thatched. The central station would only accomodate inbound trains in order to promote tourism. And the new city would be entirely nuclear-powered, with each flat and office having its own reactor.
Understandably, the radical plan met with a mixed response. The National Trust called it "barbaric". The Royal Fine Arts Commission wanted to know if it was "some kind of sick joke". Malcolm Muggeridge praised its "excellent benches". And the Evening Standard was so horrified it refused to come out for four days.
In the end, Roshanak lost his fight for the plan and it was consigned to the dustbin of history. Intensely disillusioned, Roshanak quit architecture and became a freelance mermaid.