Cities, Masterplanning and Urban Governance
This course aims to give master students in architecture and geography an overview of modern planning. The first part comprises an introduction in the more recent history of urban and regional planning, mostly related to developments in the Western world. The respective time span starts at the peak of industrialisation, leading to recovery planning after World War II, then emphasising ideal types of planning since the 1950s/60s: modernist vs. traditional planning, compact vs. dispersed development. Today’s master planning of urban expansion, large-scale infrastructure projects or eco-city communities will give most recent insight into the world of planning. Also, the concept of governance will be introduced. Having emerged from political science discourses, it includes processes of decision making that are essentially multi-level in their scales and include a variety of actors.
Following the introductions given by instructors, the second part offers participants the opportunity to work on selected case studies of one spatial plan – designed for developing a building, a ‘project’, an urban district, selected parts of infrastructure or concerning the future of an entire territory. This exercise aims at reconstructing the plans’ contents, justification and implementation, leading to a critical assessment of the plans’ outcomes and thus of urban planning more widely. When reflecting upon implementation and outcome, the case studies reassert steering processes in the context of governance. Hence this allows for to connect the planning ‘ideals’ with questions of practice (in fact being more incremental rather than driven by big narratives) and the fundamental question of outcome.
For visual illustration, I have chosen a picture taken from the ‘Merian’-magazine series from 1958 on the Ruhr-area in Germany, a pic that I frequently use in the history of planning-section of the class. It shows a steel-production site located in the municipality of Duisburg-Hamborn, overarched by the massive territorial imprint that high industrialisation has had. In more detail, it also reveals particular features of planning at the time: the important role of infrastructure (circulation of resources, raw materials and workforce) and the provision of housing next to the place of work (which was widely practiced, but not the norm). The Ruhr area was also one of the breeding grounds of inter-municipal (regional) planning in Germany, invented by Robert Schmidt, then director of the Siedlungsverband Ruhrkohlenbezirk.