Unwin, Sir Raymond

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Unwin, Sir Raymond (1863–1940). English town-planner, the most influential of his time. Influenced by William Morris and by Socialist ideas, he was later drawn to the theories of Ebenezer Howard concerning planning and cities. He formed a partnership (1896–1914) with his brother-in-law, Barry Parker: as Parker & Unwin they designed St Andrew's Church, Barrow Hill, Derbyshire (1893), and several houses in the Arts-and-Crafts style before establishing their reputation by planning New Earswick Village near York for the Joseph Rowntree (1836–1925) Village Trust (from 1901). This was followed by the realization of Ebenezer Howard's proposals, the layout of Letchworth, Hertfordshire, the first Garden City (from 1903), where Parker & Unwin also built several houses and other structures. Progress at Letchworth was slow, but at the next project, Hampstead Garden Suburb, it was rapid (from 1905). Unwin settled in Hampstead, while Parker stayed on at Letchworth. The Suburb was a successful example of the ideals of low-density housing derived from the pioneering development at Bedford Park, Chiswick, and was the prototype for many inter-war suburban developments. The very grand, formal centre at Hampstead, however, consisting of two churches, several houses, and an institute, were designed by Lutyens (from 1908).

Unwin published Town Planning in Practice: An Introduction to the Art of Designing Cities and Suburbs in 1909, an important text that had a considerable effect on town-planning for the next three decades. Appointed Chief Inspector of Town Planning at the Local Government Board (later Ministry of Health) in 1914, and then Director of Housing for the Ministry of Munitions during the 1914–18 war, he influenced a number of developments, including the settlements at Gretna, Scotland, and Mancot Royal (Queensferry), near Chester. He was a member of the Tudor-Walters Committee on Housing (1918), was consulted for the New York Regional Plan in the USA (1922), and remained a senior civil servant with the Ministry of Health until 1928. He advised on the planning of the Manchester satellite development of Wythenshawe, for which Parker was the main consultant (1927–41): it was one of the most ambitious local-authority housing-schemes of the time, and anticipated the first-generation New Towns after the 1939–45 war. He was also involved in the proposals for London, the fruits of which were the Greater London Plans of the 1940s. He was one of the founders of the Town Planning Institute (1913) and was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1931–3). His other works included Cottage Plans and Common Sense (1902—with a later edition of 1908), Nothing Gained by Overcrowding: How the Garden City Type of Development May Benefit Both Owner and Occupier (1912), and many contributions to journals, etc.


Architectural Review, clxiii/976 (June 1978), 325–32, 366–75;
Ashworth (1954);
Creese (ed.) (1967, 1992);
F. Jackson (1985);
LeGates & and Stout (1996);
Me. Miller (1992, 2000);
Miller & and Gray (1992);
L. Mumford (1961);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Placzek (ed.) (1982);
Swenarton (1981);
Jane Turner (1996);
Unwin (1908, 1909, 1918, 1971)