The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Events Archive

Spring Lecture Series Cities of the British Isles: Oxford




Oxford: Thursday 25th February 2021 at 18.30  Presented by Professor William Whyte

With travel remaining restricted, the Spring lecture series will take a tour of the British Isles. Each lecture will consider key twentieth-century developments in one location, offering a mixture of the familiar and the unexpected. From the 'new city' of Milton Keynes to Dublin and Edinburgh, where new buildings sat alongside historic architecture, we'll explore the modern urban landscape in all its variety.

In 1977 Alan Bullock observed ‘It comes as a surprise to most people to be told that if they want to see a representative collection of the best British architecture of the last twenty years they cannot do better than visit Oxford.’  The big question, of course, is why? What happened to Oxford to turn it from what Howard Colvin once termed ‘a hotbed of cold feet’ into a place that commissioned much more modern architecture?

William Whyte will look at building projects, designs, town planning schemes and a motorway to address those questions. The answer will tell us much about modern Oxford and also give insight into the debates about building that helped reshape modern Britain.

William Whyte is Professor of Social and Architectural History at St John's College, Oxford. He wrote the introduction to the C20 Journal 11 Oxford and Cambridge which can be purchased at a discounted rate from our online shop  here . 


We’ll send you a Zoom link by email after you book, which will enable you to “join” the event, and we’ll be using the Q&A function to take questions at the end. If you’ve not used Zoom before, clicking on the Zoom link will take you through the set-up process, hopefully simply and smoothly! You should receive an automated link within an hour of booking so please check your spam/junk emails if you haven't received this. Any further problems please contact


Members: £3, non-members £5

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The Twentieth Century Society is a registered charity, no 1110244.