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London 1944: Greater London Plan

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London 1944: Greater London Plan

Abstract

In 1943 Patrick Abercrombie (1879-1957) presented the Country of London Plan. He designed this plan in collaboration with H.J. Forshaw, who was working at the time as an architect for the London County Council, the administrative body responsible for commissioning the plan. The following year Abercrombie presented the Greater London Plan, a plan for the London region commissioned by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. The Greater London Plan, as well as the County of London Plan, attempted to offer solutions to London’s rampant growth, incoherent architectonic development, increasing traffic congestion, inferior housing conditions, inadequate and poor distribution of public open space, and entangled housing and employments functions. Both plans have been called the most significant contributions to the practice of urban planning in Great Britain. The Dutch version of this chapter can be downloaded via www.PKMvR.nl.
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The article explores mid-twentieth century professional transnationalism by highlighting the crucial role of lesser-known planners – ‘ordinary modernists’ – in disseminating, negotiating, and ultimately shaping the modern built environment. It focuses on the work of Ariel Kahane (1907-1986), a mostly unknown German-Jewish senior planning officer under both the British Mandate and on the Israeli ‘New Towns’ team of early statehood. It examines Kahane’s critique of British imperial planning’s betrayal of the emancipatory values of large-scale planning, and shows how, while drawing on planning innovations from the British metropole, he produced his own, self-contradictory, planning vision. Kahane’s planning ideas advanced notions of Jewish exclusiveness, an orientation expressed ever more explicitly after 1948, when he became a high-ranking planning officer in Israel. His work as a senior state planner illuminates aspects of continuity across the divide of 1948, which is typically viewed as a moment of rupture with respect to Israeli state planning and the formation of ethno-spatial structures.
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