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The Freedom of the Future

A look at some of the stunning recent work of an exceptional generation of British architects born in the 1930s, led by Norman Foster and Richard Rogers.

How an exceptional generation of British architects, led by Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, conquered the globe with their high-tech vision.

The first episode includes glimpses of some of their most stunning recent work, such as London's new 'Cheesegrater' skyscraper, Spaceport America and the KK100 skyscraper in China (the tallest tower ever built by a British architect), before looking in detail at some of their revolutionary projects from the 1960s and 70s.

Foster, Rogers, Nicholas Grimshaw, Michael Hopkins and Terry Farrell were born within six years of each other in the 1930s; shaped by both the optimism of the postwar years and the sixties counterculture, these pillars of today's establishment began their careers as outsiders and radicals. Rogers and his collaborators tell the story of one of the most influential buildings of the 20th century - the Pompidou Centre in Paris - the result of a contest he didn't want to enter and no-one ever thought they would win.

Other early projects featured include Norman Foster's glassy Willis Faber & Dumas Headquarters in Ipswich, Farrell & Grimshaw's corrugated aluminium tower block next to Regent's Park in London and the industrial-style Hopkins House in Hampstead.

59 minutes

Last on

Wed 30 Jan 2019 00:00

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Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • Jean‐Michel Jarre

    Oxygène Part IV

  • Pantha du Prince & The Bell Laboratory


  • Portico Quartet


  • The Ink Spots

    I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire

  • Enrico Caruso

    Musica Proibita Op 5

  • Edmundo Ros

    The Festival of Britain Calypso

  • Ronnie Scott

    Stringin' the Jug

  • Bobby Darin

    Beyond The Sea

  • Del Shannon

    Del Shannon Runaway

  • 00:20

    The Temptations

    Get Ready

  • The Shadows

    The Rise And Fall Of Fingel Bunt

  • Tom Dissevelt


  • Buffalo Springfield

    For What It’s Worth

  • Small Faces

    Ogdens Nut Gone Flake

  • Tom Dissevelt


  • Terry Riley

    A Rainbow In Curved Air (Instrumental)

  • Tom Dissevelt


  • Kraftwerk


  • Wendy Carlos

    Two Part Invention In B Flat M

  • Isao Tomita

    Children's Corner No 4 Snowflakes Are Dancing

  • Hot Butter


  • Wendy Carlos


  • Tangerine Dream

    Movements Of A Visionary

  • Kraftwerk

    Europe Endless

  • Cerrone


  • Giorgio Moroder


  • The Stranglers

    (Get A) Grip (On Yourself)

  • Jean‐Michel Jarre

    Equinoxe, Pt IV

  • Jean‐Michel Jarre

    Oxygène Part III

  • Vangelis


  • Vangelis

    Heaven And Hell (Part I)

  • The Bell Laboratory

    Spectral Split

  • Pet Shop Boys

    Love Is A Bourgeois Construct

  • 00:27

    Small Faces

    Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake

  • 00:45



  • 00:59

    Tubeway Army

    Are Friends Electric

Projects from episode 1

Find out more about the iconic buildings featured in episode 1, links to external websites.

Lord Norman Foster
Reliance Controls with Richard Rogers 
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts 
Willis Faber and Dumas Headquarters  with Michael Hopkins

Lord Richard Rogers
Lloyds of London 
The Leadenhall Building 

Sir Michael Hopkins
The London Olympic Velodrome  
Hopkins House 

Sir Nicholas Grimshaw
Fulton Street Transit Centre 
125 Park Road with Terry Farrell
Herman Miller Factory

Sir Terry Farrell 
KK100 Tower 


Role Contributor
Writer Peter Sweasey
Director Peter Sweasey
Producer Peter Sweasey
Executive Producer Nicholas Kent


Learn More with The Open University

Learn More with The Open University

Building Stories: Meet the architects behind some of Britain's most iconic buildings

Programmes on post-war architecture

Programmes on post-war architecture

A collection of programmes examining the triumphs and failures of post-war architecture.