Front Cover of Manplan 1: Frustration


Looking forward to the new decade ahead in the autumn of 1969 The Architectural Review (AR) paused to examine and evaluate state of the nation through its architecture and planning. This was by way of the publication of ‘Manplan’, a number of special editions of the AR focusing on topics ranging from housing to religion and how well these functioned within society. Manplan was not only a radical, sometimes brutal assessment of the built environment of the day, but today forms a poignant reminder of British life at the end of the sixties. Its stated intention was to take “as its yardstick real needs rather than minimum standards. Hence the title MANPLAN. A plan for human beings with a destiny rather than figures in a table of statistics.” (The Architectural Review, September 1969)

Manplan 1 set the tone for the series whereby Patrick Ward photographed and recorded one month of British frustration, that of congestion, queues, poverty, boredom, protests, inadequate buildings and damage to both the built and natural landscape. Subsequent editions intended to propose solutions to issues such as: what responsibility have architects for the environmental crisis? Is modern life isolating us? How do we prepare for the huge increase in the elderly? Is current housing policy sound? Is technology good or bad for us or even turning us into robots? What impact does the paralysis of decision making, particularly by government, have? Hence the first edition’s title ‘Frustration’ reflecting the AR’s conclusion that, “the picture that emerges covers the whole spectrum of despair from inconvenience through exasperation to tragedy and, of course, farce.” (The Architectural Review, September 1969)

Manplan was a departure from AR’s norm, not least the use of grainy reportage photography shot on 35mm cameras by leading photojournalists commissioned by the AR. The design was characterised by the use of full-page images, multi-page spreads, guest editors, bold titles, Rockwell typeface forming a ribbon of text from page to page and by being printed using a matt black ink. In particular for Manplan 1 Ward’s photographs were punctuated by black pages framing only the smallest of images.

Although the AR had long championed better town planning through the ‘Townscape’ campaign or highlighted blights on the landscape in ‘Outrage’, Manplan’s brave assessment was nevertheless a shock and a critical broadside on the architectural profession, some of whom protested by cancelling their subscription. Striking both by its design and by its depictions of buildings being populated and used by people, Manplan was to a degree controversial yet highlighted and explored many issues which remain acutely pertinent today.

The first edition, Manplan 1, was published in September 1969 with the series ending a year later with Manplan 8. The intended Manplan 9 focusing on Leisure was never published, however the RIBA holds some of the photographer Patrick Ward’s contact sheets. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Manplan between now and September 2020 RIBApix will present galleries of images to coincide with the publication of each issue, all of which are available to download, purchase or license.

Also see: Manplan 2: Society and its Contacts


Manplan 1: Frustration

Publication date: September 1969

Series editor: Tom Rock

Guest photographer: Patrick Ward


Article by Jonathan Makepeace

27 items
RIBA40525Signage along the approach to the east front of Woburn Abbey

RIBA51069British Leyland car factory production line

RIBA62134Design for the front cover of 'Manplan 1: Frustration' in Architectural Review, 1969 September

RIBA62138Waiting in an airport terminal

RIBA62144BOAC Vickers VC-10 airliner flying low over suburban semi-detached house, London

RIBA62145Planes lined up on the runway, Heathrow Airport, London

RIBA62147A packed Red Arrow bus

RIBA62150Doors closing on a London Underground train

RIBA62154Voting at a British Leyland strike meeting

RIBA62157Miners in the locker room

RIBA62158Inside a brick factory

RIBA62159Lord Meston, President of the National Federation of Property Owners, and a table covered with government acts and regulations

RIBA62165Guildford School of Art with protest banners and posters

RIBA62166View from a Victorian school over the school yard and industrial town

RIBA62167Outdoor toilet at an infants' school

RIBA62168Child welfare clinic in a church hall, east London

RIBA62170Sitting around the table at an old people's home in Worthing, West Sussex

RIBA62175Coaches in the car park at Woburn Abbey

RIBA62181Queuing for ice cream, Woburn Abbey

RIBA62188Playing bingo

RIBA62190Religious speaker ignored by passers-by

RIBA62193In a Tesco supermarket check-out queue

RIBA62198Suburban housing overshadowed by Croydon's office blocks, London

RIBA62200St Paul's Cathedral surrounded by commercial office blocks, City of London

RIBA62203Lock-out at the Turriff construction site for the Ivy Bridge Farm Estate, Hounslow, London

RIBA62206A row of no parking signs

RIBA62208Sign on a construction site