Cumbernauld: A New Town
Made for the Cumbernauld Development Corporation and Films of Scotland in the 1970s, this documentary takes the viewer around the new town of Cumbernauld, New Lanarkshire, created in 1956. Seen as a way forward in town planning and the solution to urban decay and overpopulation, the new town was viewed with optimism and excitement when first introduced.
Cumbernauld is a clear example of a modernist new town vision in the UK. Housing was originally delivered through constructing a series of satellite neighbourhoods which were clustered around the hilltop town centre. Separation of people and cars was a major element of the first town masterplan and this was carried through for much of the development of the town. Cumbernauld pioneered designs for underpasses and pedestrian footbridges as well as segregated footpaths.
During its construction, under the designer’s eye of Geoffrey Coputt, Cumbernauld town centre’s daring megastructure architecture was highly praised. Architects, designers, town planners and students of many disciplines visited Cumbernauld from around the globe to marvel at the town, for many years heralded as a utopian construction.
Over the years, due to lack of maintenance, bad planning decisions, a confusing layout, and the town centre not fulfilling it’s initial ambitions in terms of attracting a large population, Cumbernauld has been much derided and is now viewed as an example of bad urban design.