Lock, Cecil Max (1909-1988), town planner

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Lock, Cecil Max (1909-1988), town planner

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  • Lock, Max

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Watford practice main work was housing, mostly for private clients; elected to Watford Borough Council, 1935; advocated better housing design and rent subsidies; travelled through Scandinavia for the Institute of Social Studies, 1937; commissioned to design a timber house, 1937; Unit Master at the AA, 1937-1939; a project for his students to compare residents' demands with LCC housing plans influenced his views, 1939; his timber house was featured in the RIBA Journal, 1939.

Lock was influenced by Patrick Geddes's writings on town planning, and began to study for town planning qualifications; served on the executive committee of the Housing Centre Trust; an active member of the Modern Architecture Research (MARS) group; his interests led him away from architecture and towards social policy and planning as a teacher, researcher, and town planner; left London for Hull and became provisional head of the School of Architecture, Hull College of Art, 1939.

Excused military service as a Quaker and conscientious objector, but his views caused dispute over his permanent appointment; during evacuation to Scarborough, led a project by Hull students to design a recreation centre at nearby Scalby, 1940; in spite of the constant bombing Lock anticipated post-war reconstruction; on the School's return to Hull, a survey of Hull was started through sponsorship and grants, 1941; The Hull Regional Survey: a Civic Diagnosis was radical in its approach and novel in its presentation with visual aids, 1943; it was exhibited in London and discussed in the specialist and national press.

Lock was invited by Middlesborough Corporation to draw up a master plan and moved to Middlesborough to start the survey, 1944; his Group of professionals and helpers lived communally in the suburbs, with an office in the town centre, open to all; with Jaqueline Tyrwhitt and Ruth Glass, pioneered social survey and analysis as the basis for planning; this work was carried out closely with Ministries and Departments responsible for planning, with a view to codifying the methodology of participatory social, economic and physical survey as an integral part of the emerging statutory planning process; Lock travelled extensively, publicising the Group's work via exhibitions, the press and publications; the Middlesborough survey and plan were completed, 1945.

The team was appointed to work on Hartlepool and its hinterland and, including some new members, moved to Hartlepool, with open premises in municipal buildings; this work was a test bed for the new procedures and was the first plan to go through the new statutory hurdles to receive full Ministry approval; Lock visited the Netherlands and wrote a report for the Town Planning Institute, 1946; the team was appointed to resolve conflicting interests between new county and city planning authorities in South Hampshire and moved to a house on Southampton Water, with open offices in Fareham.

Lock opposed the consequences of the Town and Country Planning Act (1947), believing it ignored social and public participation aspects essential to the planning process; the Group wound down following the completion of the Portsmouth report and co-operative working and living arrangements broke up; Lock moved to Victoria Square, London; appointed by Bedford municipality, where a locally-recruited team produced Bedford by the River, a more graphic report than previous work, for consideration by the county planning authority; formed Max Lock and Associates; the practice moved initially to Great Russell Street and finally to John Street.

Lock was elected to various Town Planning Institute committees; acted as planning consultant, including conflicts in Sevenoaks and Aberdare; undertook redevelopment plans for the centre of Salisbury - winning a public enquiry - and for Brentford's riverfront; the architectural practice flourished under his younger associates (made partners in 1954), but there was less town planning work; his reports had been well received overseas; made a lecture tour of India, Pakistan and Ceylon for the British Council, 1951; met the Indian prime minister, Nehru, and wrote a report on India; visited Jordan as UN town planning advisor, 1954; spent time in the Middle East and worked on planning in Iraq, 1954-1956; visiting Professor at the Department of Town Planning and Civic Design, Harvard, 1957; appointed by the UK Overseas Development Administration to draw up a master plan for the city of Kaduna, 1964.

Returned to London to publish the results in a format that became an influential model, and introduced his concepts of participation and in-depth survey in the African context; instrumental in forming the Urban Development Advice Group (UDAG); UDAG drew up a report on Dunstable, 1969-1970; tried to save his team's concept for Kaduna from piecemeal aid projects in transport and drainage that disregarded the overall plan; travelled between Nigeria and the UK, where he continued work on places including Beverley and Middlesborough; in his study of Hackney and Shoreditch he was an early advocate of rehabilitation, based on thorough social and economic survey, as against wholesale redevelopment, 1971.

Made various trips to North and South America on planning issues; appointed by Nigeria's North Eastern State Government to draw up a master plan for Maiduguri and other provincial towns, 1972; designed an office there; with his partner, Michael Theis, formed the Max Lock Group Nigeria Ltd.; influential in re-focusing planning from the edges of town, considering instead its core to its region.

Lock pioneered a multi-disciplinary approach and emphasized the importance of incorporating social research in the planning process; advocated new techniques ('Civic Diagnosis'), including surveys, public participation and graphic aids such as transparent overlays; interested in music and its relation to architecture; died, 1988.

Published Works: The Survey and Replanning of Middlesbrough (Middlesborough Corporation, 1945); The County Borough of Middlesbrough: Survey and Plan (Middlesborough Corporation, 1946); The Hartlepools: a survey and plan (West Hartlepool Corporation, 1948); The Portsmouth and District Survey and Plan (1949); Bedford by the River (1952); The New Basrah (1956); Final Report to the Council of the City of New Sarum on the Redevelopment of the City Centre (London, 1963); Kaduna, 1917, 1967, 2017. A survey and plan of the capital territory for the government of Northern Nigeria (Faber & Faber, London, 1967); contributions to RIBA Journal, TPI Journal, Town Planning Review, and others.


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Max Lock Centre

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Max Lock Centre is the associate of Lock, Cecil Max (1909-1988), town planner

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