That 70s show
Was the 70s really a grim decade - BD readers give their view
Of all the decades the 1970s has had a lousy press, a perception historian Dominic Sandbrook wants to change in his new four-part series, simply called The 70s (BBC2).
He argues that in fact it was the 1970s that brought real change not the 1960s or the decade of consumerism that followed.
Sandbrooks’ first episode concentrated on property ownership, because for the first time mortgages were available from high street banks. This fueled new towns such as Peterborough, but it was also the decade in which the government started to abandon Parker Morris standards.
But what about the architecture? 1970 was the year that BD launched, but this was not on the back of an architectural renaissance. The average building was generally low-rise, generally in brown or dark red brick and generally — but not always — dull.
Writing in BD’s anniversary issue in 2010 Hugh Pearman says the oil crisis of the early 1970s “dealt a blow to the modernist project and by the mid decade we reached the low point of architecture in the second half of the 20th century”.
Sandbrook argues that it was the 1970s that saw the rise of individual self-expression but did architecture have its David Bowie equivalent or was it— as BD’s then editor Peter Murray claimed — “a grim decade with little architecture of note”?
Nominate your favourite buildings and architectural moments from the 1970s in the comments below or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. The next episode of The 70s will be shown on BBC2 on Monday Arpil 30 at 21.00