'Planning across the borders': on the 1924 conference

'Planning across the borders': on the 1924 conference

In the summer of 1924 close to 500 people from 28 different countries visited Amsterdam in order to into immerse themselves in the town planning challenges of their day. The (Dutch) article Plannen over de grenzen heen (Planning across borders) takes a close look at the conference, where special attention was paid to ideas on regional planning.

Dividing lines separating national developments were transcended in substantive discussions about an emerging discipline. At that time, urbanization was generally perceived as a rapid, autonomous and disastrous process that resulted in unmanageable metropolises with a rapidly declining quality of life.

The article focuses on the content of the debate on 3 and 4 July 1924. The papers, or ‘preliminary reports’, that preceded the conference have received a fair amount of attention, but it is the substance and atmosphere of the discussions themselves that reveal the openness and collegiality of the international exchange of knowledge.

The 1924 town planning conference appears to have been a unique occasion during which multiple urban movements collaborated and in so doing reached a broad audience of town planners, architects, engineers and above all (Dutch) administrators. The involvement of the last group led to a pre-war upsurge in regional plans. As far as the Netherlands was concerned, the 1924 conference can be regarded as the starting point of the rich tradition of regional planning, and perhaps even as the germ of post-war spatial national planning.

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Schram, A., & Doevendans, K. (2018). Plannen over de grenzen heen. Een vakgebied in wording op het Internationale Stedenbouwcongres van 1924. Bulletin KNOB, 117(2), 104-122.