The Historical Evolution of Town and Country Planning in Australia and Internationally

Topics: City, Le Corbusier, Urban planning Pages: 5 (1505 words) Published: June 20, 2013
“Critically discuss the historical evolution of town and country planning in Australia and internationally”

Despite the profession of planning being a relatively recent creation, Planning has existed in some form since the beginning of human settlement itself. Whether it is the ancient cities of the Old World or the global metropolises of today, every urban environments display some degree of planning in their design and function (Smith, 2007). However, just as cities have evolved over time, so to have the approaches taken to planning and the philosophies behind them. This evolution of Town and Country Planning forms a long and complex history which encompasses a wide breadth of ideas. Reflecting upon this history, several key movements can be identified: The origins of Planning in the 19th century, the Modernist era of the early 20th century and the Postmodernist era that followed. This paper will focus on these key movements.

Historical Planning
During the 19th century, cities were subject to increasing industrialization accompanied by rapid population growth and urban expansion. This lead to overcrowding, congestion, slums and lack of sanitation (Hall 1992). Growing public protest in the form of protests and labour strikes in countries like Britain led to the implementation of various reform measures such as the Public Health Act of 1848 and the Labouring Classes’ Dwellings Houses Act of 1866. These went some way to relieving these pressures (Maginn 2011) by setting minimal standards for health and housing, resulting in for increased living standards by the century’s end. During this time, planning was used mostly by private companies as a tool to increase productivity by improving the health of the working population (Cowan 2010). The higher living standards and economic prosperity this created lead to planning philosophy changing its focus from providing housing and improving cities to beautifying them (Bluestone M, 1988). This City Beautiful movement focused on civic beautification and the construction of monuments. The term ‘beautility’ was used to describe the theory that a beautiful city must also be functional one. (Freestone et al 2000) However, these changes led some to question if further improvements could be made.

The Garden City
By the end of the 19th century, basic ideas about urban planning were well developed. These ideas had ‘underlying utopian aspirations that influenced the attitudes and procedures planners’ (Akoi, K 1993). The Garden City is possibly the best example of this, as an optimistic attempt to unite broad utopian ideals with the planning lessons of the past into a a specific plan. ( First outlined by Ebenezer Howard in To-Morrow (1898), the Garden City became a major force in the historical planning era that influenced planners worldwide. According to Hall 1992 (Hall 1992b), Howard argued that a new type of garden-city settlement could uniquely combine all the advantages of the town such as employment and access to services, as well as the advantages of country life, without any of the disadvantages of either. His proposal for creating such a settlement rested on the notion of decentralization, the movement of workers and their places of employment away from the city and into the new settlements isolated by wide greenbelts. Howard proposed the development of numerous Garden Cities, each with 30,000 inhabitants. Despite wide support from planners of the time, only two attempts were made at garden cities, Letchworth in 1903 and Welywyn in 1920, both of which never fully realized the goals of the movement.

Mordernist Planning
The Radiant City
As the world entered the 20th century, planning philosophies evolved further. In Europe, Swiss-born architect Charles Edouard Jenneret, known as Le Corbusier, put forward radical planning proposals, which built on the ideas of Howard and his predecessors. Le...
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