The epidemics behind urban planning: The welfare state

Bruno Taut’s “Waldsiedlung Zehlendorf, Berlin”. Photo by Gyxmz – own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31676705

by Prof Ares Kalandides

This is the second and last part of the blog post on the epidemics behind urban planning, Part 1 examined the origins of urban planning in the 19th century, and how the fear of epidemics and the social unrest which would ensue from them, shaped cities in Western Europe and North America. You can read Part 1 following this link.


By the early twentieth century, housing conditions for people of the working classes had once again become appalling in most cities of the industrialized north. In 1902 the Dutch government decided to pass a housing act containing several provisions to address this crisis. Among others, city authorities were to develop building codes setting quality standards for construction, while cities with over 10,000 inhabitants were to develop an expansion plan indicating different housing zones. In terms of housing provision, the act gave municipalities the right to provide financial support to non-for-profit housing associations that worked in the field of public housing. Following the act, Amsterdam’s social-democratic government commissioned the architect Hendrik Berlage with the design for an expansion plan of Amsterdam’s South (Amsterdam Zuid) and provided subsidies to housing associations even into World War I, when private construction had come to a halt.  The plan for Amsterdam Zuid is for a city where green permeates everything, the vast courtyards, the streets and squares. Housing and retail are largely separated and – underpinning the form – there is a political conviction that even lower classes deserve adequate, affordable housing and the role of the state is to provide it.

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The epidemics behind urban planning: The foundations

Hobrecht Plan

By Prof Ares Kalandides

In 1862 in Berlin, the building engineer James Hobrecht undertook the design of a ‘development plan for Berlin’s surroundings,’ today known simply as the ‘Hobrecht Plan’. Hobrecht was part of a broader Berlin movement, which, starting in the mid-nineteenth century and following several epidemics of cholera, believed in the role of central planning in sustaining and improving public health. Politicians such as medical doctor Rudolf Virchow (1821–1902) considered contemporary sewerage, like that already seen in parts of England, to be indispensable for the improvement of public health in the capital. Whereas Hobrecht is mostly remembered for the 1862 Berlin development plan, undoubtedly one of his major contributions is the modernization of the sewerage system.

The ‘Hobrecht Plan’ provided the outline for the development of a big part of Berlin and it is still visible today in large areas of the inner city. It was the first complete street plan for an expansion of the built-up area inside the municipal borders, with the main goal to provide a street pattern for predominantly agricultural areas around the existing city that were to be designated for construction, providing housing for Berlin’s exploding population.

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Back to school – with the Institute of Place Management

Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University

Free of charge: A one-day introduction to postgraduate study in place management and leadership -28th September, 2018

Working for a BID, as a Town Centre Manager, in some other form of place management or looking to go into this field? Do you want to further your knowledge about this complex and challenging role? Would you like to understand how place management is developing and ensure you can be most effective in your role? Why not join us for a one day introductory session that explores place reputation management, introduces the content of our post-graduate courses in Place Management and Leadership and develops your skills.

The Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University offers a suite of postgraduate programmes to support place managers develop their strategic insight and leadership skills, to enable them to improve the places that they work in.

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Teaching Pluralist Economics

Pluralist Economicsby Prof Ares Kalandides*

Teaching economics to postgraduate students with no or very little background in economics is not an easy thing to do. How do you communicate the intricacies of economic thought to those with a background in architecture and planning – as I often have to do in a Master’s programme in Urban Management at the Technical University in Berlin? It has however proven to be much easier that teaching students who do have a background in economics, but only of the neoclassical school. Continue reading “Teaching Pluralist Economics”

Crowd Science: Run, Hide, Tell

Crowd Science
People run down Oxford Street, London, Britain November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

By Prof Keith Still*

The recent crowd reaction to an incident at Oxford Circus Underground station highlights the escalating risks to crowds in places of public assembly. Namely, the crowds are reacting to incidents (real or perceived) very differently to how they reacted a few years ago.

Do you remember school, we were all drilled for evacuation practise? You line up, walk (DO NOT RUN) to the nearest exit. Now the message is very different. The advice is now to RUN. Continue reading “Crowd Science: Run, Hide, Tell”