Just a few months ago there were major demonstrations in Istanbul triggered by protests against plans to build a shopping mall and housing on Taksim Gezi Park. In Rome this week I stumbled into another demonstration. A couple of hundred people had gathered late on Saturday afternoon outside a rather non-descript industrial building, a former foundry, not far from Porta Maggiore, the greatest entrance gate to ancient Rome. There were banners opposing speculators and “defending” San Lorenzo, the rather rundown neighbourhood squeezed between the railway, La Sapienza University and an elevated urban motorway. A hundred meters away the carabinieri were lined up with their riot shields.
The European Council of Spatial Planners has just published a book to mark “A Centenary of Spatial Planning in Europe”. It is a compendium in which the Introduction is followed by 32 chapters that range far and wide in their concerns and approach. What does the book tell us about where planning in Europe has come from and where it is heading to?
This piece was first published in Planning 21 July 1989 and is reproduced by kind permission of Haymarket Publications. Because it ran over 2 pages it has to be reproduced here as two separate items
The "Diary" tells of a week spent in meetings with planners in what was then Czechoslovakia. It was written just a few months before the Velvet Revolution in November 1989 which swept away the communist regime. The diary provides a first hand account of the tribulations of day to day life at the time which undermined the regime. It also shows how planners were working in the strange period of reform under perestroika led by Gorbachov and pressed on a reluctant Czechoslovak administration.