Encounters in Planning Thought

The IPHS (International Planning History Society) has conferred one of its 2018 book prizes on Trixi Haselberger’s edited collection of the thoughts and reflections of some 16 of us who gathered in Vienna in 2014. I myself am not keen on being identified by age but it is easy to do so – someone came to the front door yesterday to conduct a poll and on seeing me, then asked if anyone under 65 was in the flat ! Anyway if you want to read what we all said about the world as it developed through planning theory during the last 50 years, please get hold of Trixi’s book. I blogged about it previously – click on this spot – but here is the citation for the prize”

“The prize, for the best planning history edited work goes to Beatrix HASELSBERGER (editor), Encounters in Planning Thought. 16 Autobiographical Essays from Key Thinkers in Spatial Planning, (New York and London: Routledge 2017).“The book unpacks”, as the editor writes, “the secrets of how and why sixteen distinguished spatial planners with an average age of 75 built their ideas over the last five to six decades”. Considering that this was an extraordinary generation of thinkers, the book offers a major contribution to planning history and theory. Utterly fascinating, it makes for a compelling read, while it provides significant insights into each of these planners’ ideas, lives, and work. It will be a classic. It is already being used to teach graduate planning theory classes. The credit for this outcome goes in part also to the editor, who probably did an excellent subterranean work in ensuring the cohesion and the readability of the whole.”

How Do We Handle Urban Complexity?

I should not say this but I don’t remember much about writing the attached piece which is entitled ‘Technology and the Democratic Management of Urban Complexity’ but here it is: click here. Published by Acciona and from a book entitled S.M.A.R.T, it deals with a subject that I have not written much on as yet and maybe that is because it is so important that it is not easy to articulate and remember: this is the question of how we are to manage our new technologies that are increasingly underpinning how cities function in the short term – which doubtless after the smart city has been around for a bit – will turn into the long term.

The essence of the argument is that it is not technology that is significant – but it is I how we manage and how we organise ourselves to do this. I suspect in the next 25 years, there will be a massive push to regulate such technologies in terms of privacy, access to information, and the unfettered use of technologies that are disruptive and invasive. It could be, however, that we will all be run by the Gods at Google, whatever, but such a pessimistic view of the human condition and the future seems to be under ever greater scrutiny and thus may not be the outcome of current development in AI, machine learning, and all this hype. Democratic management of technologies is what I write about a little in the attached piece and this will increasingly, in my view, be where the focus will and should be in terms of our future cities.

Urban Clusters and Agglomeration

A new paper from our group. Click here for the paper and also for the issue of Environment and Planning B .

Abstract: Agglomeration economies are a persistent subject of debate in regional science and city planning. Their definition turns on whether or not larger cities are more efficient than smaller ones. Here, we complement existing discussions on agglomeration economies by providing a sensitivity analysis of estimated externalities to the definitions of urban agglomeration. We regress wages versus population and jobs over thousands of different definitions of cities in France, based on an algorithmic aggregation of spatial units. We also search for evidence of larger inequalities in larger cities. This paper therefore focuses on the spatial and economic complexity of the mechanisms defining agglomeration within and between cities.