Dreaming the Impossible: Unbuilt Britain

Glass Houses

Series 1 - Episode 1 Glass Houses



According to Lord Foster, only one in ten of an architect’s designs is ever fully realised, and in this fascinating series architectural historian Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner looks at six of the most ambitious schemes in history that never got made.

She begins with two visionary solutions to the problem of congestion on city streets. First up is Sir Joseph Paxton’s 19th-century Great Victorian Way, an 11-mile long, glass-covered thoroughfare linking the main railway stations in London, then there’s Geoffrey Jellicoe’s 1960s design for Motopia, a grid-style town in which cars would run along the roofs of buildings.

Horsfall Turner covers a lot of ground detailing the genesis of the two projects and there are tantalising glimpses of other fantastic designs that never were, including an underground road system for the working classes.


Architectural investigator Dr Olivia Horsfall Turner reveals the fascinating and dramatic stories behind some of the grandest designs never built. She begins in 1855, when visionary designer Joseph Paxton put forward ambitious plans for the Great Victorian Way, which promised to alleviate congestion in London by encircling the city centre with a 10-mile-long glass structure containing shops, houses, hotels and eight railway lines.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Olivia Horsfall Turner
Director Paul Murton
Producer Paul Murton