This is the sixth part of the EnP board review series. I’m going to provide a timeline and discussion on urban and regional planning history.
This lengthy part 6A post is going to cover the subject on history and principles. As much as this is the most enjoyable part of the review (it is for me, anyway), only a mere portion of this may crop up in the exam.
- Cluster the contributions according to their similarities, don’t memorise one by one. It’s what I already did for this post, so you don’t go back and forth on sudden, familiar terms.
- Repeatedly read through the timeline to appreciate the development of urban planning.
- Names are important, dates are for reference. Works are for deeper appreciation. Principles matter the most.
- I’m linking the names of the urbanists to the most concise biographies I can find online. Refer to those for backgrounders, and to this post for their roles in urban and regional planning history.
Let’s start with the Ancients.
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First off: The Fertile Crescent and Ancient Egypt. These civilisations started the spread of urbanisation. I will start with Mesopotamia, which dates all the way back to 10,000 BC.
Mesopotamia (presently Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Turkey, and Iran) (10,000 BC – 7th century AD)
- Is the scope of the Tigris-Euphrates river systems. Water was the basis for the earliest urban development.
- A major civilisation was Sumer, and the people created 15 city-states. These cities used water canals and stones for their boundaries, and had a temple in its centre, dedicated to a patron god/dess.
Ancient Egypt (3,000 – 300 BC)
- The power of and respect for religion extended all the way from the earliest of Mesopotamia all the way to the Egyptian civilisation. Ancient Egyptians worshipped their kings as gods, and once they died and were buried, lived forever. Thus the monumental temples, mortuaries, and tombs.
- The pyramids were constructed in capital cities, tying the power with the largest settlements. The city of the dead is called a necropolis.
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Ancient Greece spanned three centuries (8th to 6th centuries BC). It saw the flourishing of philosophy, art, and science in Classical Greece. Religion and politics directed movements and development during this time. Ancient Greece is an influence to the Roman Empire and eventually Western Civilisation.
Hippodamus of Miletus (498-408 BC)
- “Inventor / father of formal city planning”
- Made the Hippodamian Plan or the grid city to maximise winds in the summer and minimise them in winter. This shows his geometric, arranged style in design
- Also worked on the Piraeus Port and Alexandria
The grid pattern was adopted worldwide. Satellite images give us appreciation:
Grids have their pros, such as the ease of mobility and administrative organization, but are also criticised for lack of identity, and in some cases, lack of liveability. In the book Image of the City, Kevin Lynch pointed out three observations about the grid of Los Angeles City. To quote:
As the core of a metropolis, central Los Angeles is heavily charged with meaning and activity, with large and presumably distinctive buildings, and with a basic pattern: its almost regular grid of streets. Yet a number of factors operate to result in a different, and less sharp, image than that of Boston. First is the decentralisation of the metropolitan region, whereby the central area is still by courtesy, “downtown,” but there are several other basic cores to which people are oriented. The central area has intensive shopping, but it is no longer the best shopping, and great numbers of citizens never enter the downtown area from one year to the next. Second the grid pattern itself is an undifferentiated matrix, within which elements cannot always be located with confidence. Third, the central activities are spatially extended and shifting, a fact which dilutes their impact.
Plato (428-347 BC)
- In his Dialogue, Plato established one of the oldest environmental law principles and an economic idea: The Polluter Pays Principle. It states: “If any one internationally pollutes the water of another, whether the water of a spring, or collected in reservoirs, either by poisonous substances, or by digging, or by theft, let the injured party bring the cause before the wardens of the city, and claim in writing the value of the loss; if the accused be found guilty of injuring the water by deleterious substances, let him not only pay damages, but purify the stream or the cistern which contains the water, in such manner as the laws… order the purification to be made by the offender in each case.”
- This principle is reflected in our Philippine environmental laws. For example, in the Environmental Code (Presidential Decree 1152), Section 20 discusses clean-up operations with regard to water pollution:
It shall be the responsibility of the polluter to contain, remove, and clean-up water pollution incidents at his own expense. In case of his failure to do so, the government agencies concerned shall undertake containment, removal, and clean-up operations and expenses incurred in said operations shall be against the persons and/or entities responsible for such pollution.
Aristotle (384-322 BC)
- Aristotle, in his distinction of corrective and distributive justice, provided the foundation for the concept of intergenerational equity by stating that “Human well-being is realised only partly by satisfying whatever people’s preferences happen to be at a particular time; it is also necessary for successive generations to leave behind sufficient resources so that future generations are not constrained in their preferences.” This is what is referred to as ‘for our children’s children, and their children.’ (Source: An Introduction to Sustainable Development)
- Intergenerational equity is an approach of the United Nations for sustainable development, climate justice and solidarity.
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The Roman Empire (29 BC – 393 AD) excelled in military science and engineering. This is reflected in their designs and inventions, which were built to ease transport and enhance military movement and strategies.
The City of Rome, the Imperial City
- The city was a military camp or castra, and had grand walls for protection
- Rectangular and grid-iron street patterns were used
- Notable infrastructure: The Forum, the Appian Way (Roman road or via appia), the Basilica, arches, the Colosseum, and so on. The significance of all these infrastructure is, aside from reflecting the Roman culture and needs, these were carried on to be used by the next civilisations, even to the present time.
- More notably, the Romans were heavily dependent on water from the Tiber River, thus the engineered sewerage, canals, hydraulics, and the Aqueduct.
- Despite the excellence in physical planning, engineering and architecture, the downfall of Rome came from mostly socio-political reasons. The Vikings destroyed the Aqueduct, which cut the city’s lifeline. Religious divisions, absence of military discipline, murder, and citizen unrest also brought about instability which eventually led to the fall of Rome.
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The Medieval Period or the Middle Ages
- Focal point of radial city growth was the cathedral or any similar monumental structure
- Retained the walled city from Roman practice
- The enclosure of the cities posed problems for growing populations because of the limited resources, epidemics, and generally unhealthy environment.
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The Renaissance Period
Settlement growth during the renaissance is very similar to that of the middle ages, so it was also radial in pattern.
Commerce was a driving factor of the renaissance period, calling for accessibility and easier mobility. This led to the development of plans that follow the topography of an area.
The radial pattern that Venice exhibits is the star-shaped urban form. Doesn’t this look familiar–on a 20-million population scale? But this one is a combination of star growth and really bad sprawling. 😦
Anyway, this star is characteristic of what Leone Battista Alberti (1404-1472) came up with in his study of architecture. With principles from Plato and Aristotle, he wrote the De Re Aedificatoria, which contained ten books of planning and design principles.
As I said, the growth of commerce played an important role in the different renaissance cities. Try to find the similarities in the following maps of Florence, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, and Vienna.
Paris is a hallmark in European planning, so I’m devoting a part to have a closer look at the city.
Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891)’s work on the renovation of Paris is a distinguishable accomplishment in planning. In his plan, the Arc de Triomphe became the center of twelve avenues, radiating outward, connecting to the city. Baron Haussman also assured green spaces by lining the avenues with trees and by using pocket parks all around the city. To date, this planning design is still used for the development of other cities, making Paris the best planned city.
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The City Beautiful Movement (1800s to mid 1900s) emphasised beauty and aesthetics in design. Think monuments, great and grand buildings, parks, perfect landscapes and lakes, and circular road systems.
Daniel Hudson Burnham (1846-1912)
- Called the Father of American City Planning
- He designed the World’s Columbian Exposition, together with Frederick Law Olmsted and John Wellborn Root. The plan for the expo was the first comprehensive planning document in the US.
- He gave the famous quote: “Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men`s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever- growing insistency. Remember that our sons and grandsons are going to do things that would stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon beauty.”
- His plans include Chicago (the greatest feat; was described as “Paris on a Prairie”), San Francisco, Cleveland, and locally, Manila and Baguio.
Sir Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928)
- Wrote the book Garden Cities of Tomorrow. The book was first printed as “Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Reform” in 1898, and was reprinted as Garden Cities of Tomorrow in 1902. Howard addressed the population and pollution that came about during the industrial revolution by creating garden cities.
- Howard’s umbrella concept was to create a 5,000-acre central city of 58,000 people with 1,000-acre garden cities of 30,000 people (each) surrounding it so that anthropogenic activities and growth would be controlled. (If 1 acre = 0.4 hectares, then the central city would be about 2,000 has. and the garden city would be 400 has. That’s like a city as big as Marikina surrounded by garden cities as big as UP Diliman. Those would be really dense cities.) These cities had greens and spaces all over, and would be connected by roads and railways for mobility. The logic behind it was the three magnets, where he gave value to the relationship between town and country (in Philippine terms, urban and regional areas).
- The garden city was continued by Howard’s followers, among them Sir Raymond Unwin, who was the architect-planner for Letchworth, Sir Frederic James Osborn, who championed garden cities, and Louis de Soissons, who was the architect for Welwyn. Unwin also wrote the book Nothing Gained by Overcrowding.
Here’s how the garden cities actually look like:
Read about the garden city movement in detail in another post by the SCOD Public Blog.
Charles Edouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier (1887-1965)
- Created the Radiant City, where he designed very heavily with cubist aesthetics. With the objective to decongest an entire city, he sought to house 3 million people in 60-storey buildings, box-type houses, and orderly and rational city blocks. While this plan was modernist or futuristic and very aesthetic, it was critiqued to be socially disadvantageous and unrealistic for settlements because there were too many standards that catered to what was only temporary. It also became a planning paradox in the sense that congestion was being solved by more congestion.
- Le Corbusier also wrote the books Urbanisme and The City of Tomorrow and Its Planning.
Between Ebenezer Howard’s garden cities and Le Corbusier’s radiant city, the former was favored. It also paved the way for new towns, where social and community issues were addressed. The separation of people and cars also came into play, as well as the separation of homes from factories.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
- Champion and proponent of urban decentralisation, and involved communities in his plans
- Designed the Broadacre City, a 1,000-hectare city complete with socio-economic amenities. This planned city included social services in the forms of schools, trains, and museums, as well as employment in the forms of markets, offices, nearby farms, and industrial areas. The one big criticism on this plan was that Wright included a helicopter in it.
- These two go together because of their plan of Radburn, a garden city in New Jersey. Radburn was designed to separate vehicles from pedestrians. It also used the concept of a superblock and exhibited cul-de-sacs (meaning dead ends).
- The superblock was created by Henry Wright. This was a series of homes surrounded by green pathways.
- Clarence Stein, on the other hand, initiated plans to produce greenbelt resettlements all over the US. He wrote the book Toward New Towns for America.
Clarence Perry (1872-1944)
- Perry made the concept of the neighbourhood unit. Similar to the superblock, it is bounded by major streets and caters to its community with a church, a school and shops. This concept highly values open spaces. This unit is very small, at only 200 sqm. up to 2 sqkm.
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The Regional Planning Movement
Sir Patrick Geddes (1954-1932)
- Introduced the notion of region and became the Father of Regional Planning. This came up from his being a biologist, sociologist, and geographer all at the same time; he dissected the planning environment by analysing the occupational activities, used observation, and combatted the gridiron tradition with “conservative surgery” in planning. He came up with the Valley Section, shown below.
- Also introduced the term conurbation, which means “an aggregation of continuous network of urban communities.” Or simply, “A large area consisting of cities that have grown so that there is very little room between them.” (Merriam Webster) This is what it looks like:
- Geddes emphasized the relationships of people and cities, thus the city-region term.
- He also used the rational planning method of Survey Analysis
- Wrote the book Cities in Evolution
I found an online presentation all about Patrick Geddes, his works, and real life situation of his works. Here it is:
Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie (1879-1957)
- Created the post-war plans for London, and combatted sprawling by resettlement
- Made the London Country Plan (1944) and the Greater London Plan (1943)
If you zoom in to the legend, this is what’s written:
Read more about the Abercrombie Plan in another blog by Sam Hind at thesemaphorline.wordpress.com.
Lewis Mumford (1895-1990)
- A historian-sociologist who studied cities and architecture
- From his 23 books, the most prominent in city planning is The City in History, which pointed out how technology and nature could be harmonious. This also gave the concept of an organic city and rationalised how planning has various disciplines.
- Mumford was friends with City Beautiful advocates Frank Lloyd Wright, Clarence Stein, and Frederic Osborn. Mumford and Wright exchanged transatlantic letters on professional and personal matters.
Benton McKaye (1879-1975)
- Originator of the 3,500 km Appalachian Trail in the eastern US
- Was a forester and conservationist, and co-founded the Wilderness Society. He championed regional conservationism
Several of our great urban thinkers were good friends and colleagues. And it was from there that they created the Regional Planning Association of America, with Clarence Stein as the founder. The group meticulously assessed the city, shared knowledge and ideas, and rallied political action. The RPAA lasted ten years (1923-1933).
The City Functional Movement
Edward Bassett (1863-1948)
- Urban planner and lawyer who was the Father of American Zoning. He was the first to use zoning as a means of implementing land use in New York. He wrote books about zoning.
- Also coined the term freeway and parkway
Don Arturo Soria y Mata (1844-1920)
- Made the concept of the Linear City, which has many parallel and specialised functions.
- The linear city gears away from the usual centric urban forms. The lines help control the expansion of a city.
Here’s a Prezi presentation on Arturio Soria y Mata and his work on the linear city.
Tony Garnier (1869-1948)
- Followed Soria y Mata’s linear city and created the concept of a linear, industrial city. He envisioned the plan to cater to 35,000 residents, and followed the principles of function, greeneries, open space, and exposure to the sunlight.
- The industrial city is linked by circular patterns
- He also already used the concept of zoning and labeled spaces into leisure, industry, work, and transport.
Thomas Adams (1871-1940)
- As an architect, he worked primarily on low-density residences or garden suburbs
- Founded the British Town Planning Institute, became the Town Planning Advisor to the Local Government Board, then moved to Canada and yet again became an adviser to the Commission of Conservation
- Wrote the book Rural Planning and Development
- Pushed for planning legislation by mandate, local plans, zoning, building regulations, and recognised the responsibility of a licensed or professional planner. (This stems all the way to our present laws.)
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City Efficient Movement
Constantinos Apostolos Doxiadis (1914-1975)
- Jumping some millennia after ancient Greece, another Greek planner-architect, best known as Konstantinos, studied the science of human settlements, known to us today as ekistics. This branch of science is vast and looks into the culture, economies, and society in varying scales, let’s zone in on the principles most used in the practice of urban design and estate planning.
- Following the Greek grid and the principles of ekistics, this was how Konstantinos designed Islamabad:
Francis Stuart Chapin (1888-1974)
- As a sociologist and educator, he stressed the importance of quantifying social activities in an evolving city through statistics.
- He was the first to write the textbooks on urban and regional planning:
Let’s go to a couple of economic and transport concepts, as these had lots to do with this movement. But to relate that to how the movement is called–city efficient–let’s state the premise that human activity (employment, settlement, transport, traffic, and mobility) follow land use. Just so we’re all on the same page, and we know why this suddenly crops up here.
- Published A Model of Metropolis, which is a computer model for spatial organization of anthropogenic activities in a metropolitan area. The model generates an assessment that can be the basis for urban policy decisions.
- Lowry worked with Robert Garin on a model. This model came up after a series of research on land use and transportation. Population densities, transport zones, and land use forecast techniques were already being done.
- The model became a tool for urban and regional planning. Simply, it looks at the relationship and logic to the spatial arrangement of human activities.
- In this model we learn about gravity modelling (in transport planning, trip distribution), which means, in English, the farther the distance, the more interaction declines. That’s also more commonly known to us as distance decay.
Other concepts that are part of the “social physics” include agglomeration economies, economic equilibrium, … But we’ll get to that in the next post.
Let’s continue to the dawn of the automobile and its effects.
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William Levitt (1907-1994)
- Father of American Suburbia / The King of Suburbia / The Inventor of the Suburb
- Mass produced houses that were affordable
Suburbanization was also when people put the car on the pedestal. This created gated subdivisions that catered to people with cars. As a result, urban sprawl became a disease. (Check out how bad in this other blog post.)
This socio-geographical disease was coupled with pollution, rapid population growth rates, and many more urban problems, which led to the Urban Renewal Movement.
Catherine Bauer Wurster (1905-1964)
- An advocate of social and public housing. She authored the American Housing Act of 1937 and was an adviser to five presidents.
- Wrote the book Modern Housing
- She also worked with Lewis Mumford
Robert Moses (1888-1981)
- Known as the Master Builder of New York, because of his plans that had parkways, expressways, and housing development all over the city
- The catch with Moses’ grand masterplans is that they require the destruction of existing communities and neighbourhoods to be built. This was an irony in doing supposedly public works.
- The urban renewal under Moses was also done through gentrification, which means that renewal and rebuilding for investments and “improvements” really displaced the poorer residents. This was a problem of social exclusion, which is, in fact, just a step beyond racism. Social exclusion drove away the poor, black neighbourhoods, and the “smaller” people of the community.
Robert Moses was one of the most controversial figures in the history of urban planning. I’m leaving some articles on the matter:
- 5 things in NYC we can blame on Robert Moses
- The legacy of Robert Moses
- Tracing the legacy of a controversial master builder
The problem of social exclusion gave rise to Advocacy and Equity Planning, where planners advocated for and sided with those who were socially excluded.
Paul Davidoff (1930-1984)
- Father of Advocacy Planning. He paved the way to stand against the destructive effects of urban renewal
- Wrote the famous article Advocacy and Pluralism in Planning
Here is a good read on Advocacy Planning.
Saul David Alinsky (1909-1972)
- Founder of modern community organizing
- Wrote the book Rules for Radicals
- Worked with the poorer communities, and influenced neighbourhood organisations
Sherry Arnstein (d. 1997)
- Social and health worker
- Published an article on the ladder of citizen participation, which gave not only a voice but power to the citizens. This addressed how citizens were being victimised, and led the way to participatory planning.
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Jane Jacobs (1916-2006)
“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
— Jane Jacobs, The Death and Life of Great American Cities
- An urban activist who was strong and vocal against urban renewal; she fought for new urbanism
- Wrote the powerful book The Death and Life of Great American Cities, which was an open attack on urban renewal. In this book she provided insight into the decline of neighbourhoods in New York, and gave a voice to how planning should be for all people, including thriving slums and the communities that were thought to be eyesores to a city, and which were scheduled for destruction to build Robert Moses’ expressways.
- Her book and activism led to the eventual fall of urban renewal towards city diversity, mixed-use, dense neighborhoods, and vibrant communities.
- Also wrote the book The Economy of Cities
Read more about the fight between urban renewal and new urbanism here.
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Rachel Louise Carson (1907-1964)
- A marine biologist
- Wrote the powerful book Silent Spring, a haunting compilation and narrative of research about the detrimental and even lethal effects of pesticides and fertilisers on the living environment. This book launched a global environmental movement. (It will also scare the hell out of you when you read it. It changed many aspects of my lifestyle.)
Read more about her life and her writings here. She’s called to be the “best nature writer of the century.”
Ian McHarg (1920-2001)
- Was called an “architect who valued a site’s natural features” (New York Times)
- Transformed efforts of traditional planning into environmental planning by using the technique of sieve mapping or overlay, which took into account the varied features of the environment.
- Wrote the book Design with Nature, which triggered responsible planning of landscapes, respecting natural features
- Laid the foundation for Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
A timeline of GIS history may be found here, as created by GIS Lounge.
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Here’s a presentation I delivered on history, principles, and theories, covering this post. Feel free to share:
I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did writing and researching on it. 🙂 Let’s keep going.