Your review of John Grindrod’s Iconicon book refers to Derek Walker as “the architect who designed Milton Keynes”. Indeed, the plan of the new town – including the main characteristics of the road grid, the linear park, the location of the center and the districts, and the separation of housing and employment in the squares of the grid – was drawn in the Milton Keynes Interim Report by Llewelyn-Davies, Weeks, Forestier-Walker and Bor, published in 1968. The master plan published in March 1970, when Walker appeared on the scene, refined the layout but only changed none of the main components.
Walker laid out the first housing grid squares in geometric forms, in which his preference for modernist features produced homes of faulty design and construction. These areas were identified as socially disadvantaged in a 1986 report. After his departure in 1976, the housing grid squares took on the character intended by the master plan and the houses reflected the views of the inhabitants. These were established in a 1979 study by the School for Advanced Urban Studies at the University of Bristol, as a consultant to the Milton Keynes Development Corporation. Jeff Bishop, who led the study, wrote that “many results [were] a rediscovery of common sense”.
It is time to put an end to the misguided view in the architectural press that Walker was the master builder of Milton Keynes. He wasn’t, and what he did caused a lot of upset.
Director of Social Development, MKDC 1972-88