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For the most part history is the story of gradual change and evolution, of long term trends that give meaning to events as they unfold, even moments of apparent crescendo and climax. From time to time, however, there comes a tipping point when old certainties are overturned, new ideas break free and the clock of history is reset: we call this a Year Zero.

A collaboration between Sir John Soane’s Museum and Machine Books, this series of essays invites writers, critics, historians and architects to identify and reflect on a Year Zero – when the trajectories of architectural and broader history connect and coincide and the status quo is changed forever. The initial list of essays is as follows:

2008 by Reinier de Graaf

1963 by Otto Saumarez Smith

1937 by Alan Powers

1906 by Tim Brittain-Catlin

1772 by Frances Sands

1721 by Olivia Horsfall-Turner