East Kilbride, Scotland's first new town, is 60 years old this month. To celebrate South Lanarkshire Council are putting 4 films about its development online (follow the SLTV link, then the Highlights tab). The first, Town for Tomorrow is a belter - a promo from 1954 which shows the values that it was built on. It underlines the optimism and innovation that went into it - the Development Corporation were trying to improve the way people lived and came up with a number of sensible, considerate ideas that still seem to be working 60 years on - lots of green space around houses and flats; 4 main housing areas equidistant from the town centre; different types of housing for couple/families/older people; schools and smaller shopping centres within each district. That's just for starters. It often seems like new towns have been written off as failures en masse but there's a lot to celebrate here.
For the last 3 years my daily routine has been going through it on a bus twice a day and as I start a new job this week this is one thing I'll reallly miss. There's something very ambient about the whole set-up that makes floating through it on the top deck a good way to clear the head and start the day - clean lines; lots of light and space; muted colours; roundabouts; a mixture of standard housing stock (the models for houses, flats and cottages are more or less consistent throughout the whole town) broken up by more innovative buildings like the funky modernist churches. It's familiar but different at the same time, and whatever it is that some people find soulless is soulful to me. Happy birthday EK.