July 04, 2014

Planning and the Department of Civic Design

Russell's most recent blog post reminds me of when I first started reading his blog. He had some sort of "planning club", which was very alien to me as I had no idea what this "planning" was - as it seemed to bear little resemblance to any of the planning I'd undertaken or encountered up until that point.

Still, as evidenced in his video, it was all interesting stuff. I think going by his explanation that the most important skill of the planner is to get people to do stuff, I'd like to learn to be more of a planner.

Back when I was choosing my career options at school, it was a toss up between computing and advertising. As crazy as that sounds now, given how badly I seem to do at promoting what I do for a living, it's true. Maybe in an alternate reality there's a version of me who had a career as a planner.

Anyway, the real reason I'm writing this blog post is actually to take issue with a throwaway comment Russell makes at the start of the video - that town planning was invented in the 1960s.

According to a rather interesting little exhibition at the that I never got round to blogging about (back in November 2009 it turns out), town planning was invented much earlier with the first university department for it founded at the University of Liverpool in 1909.

That had the much nicer name of the Department of Civic Design. Maybe that's something we should re-appropriate for a mySociety-style smart city movement?

My favourite bit of the exhibition was finding out that the department was founded with a grant from Lord Lever, he of the soap fame, when he handed over his winnings from having taken the Daily Mail to court for libel.

I took a couple of photos of the exhibition, but it turns out they're mostly uselessly blurry. This one, however, deserves more of an airing - I'm sure it'll come in handy for smart city slide decks...

Five town silhouettes

Update, 9th July 2014: Thanks to Tristam on Twitter for tracking down that the picture was drawn by Patrick Abercrombie in 1913, and then updated in 1933 for his book "Town & Country Planning"

Posted by Adrian at July 4, 2014 09:50 AM | TrackBack
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