Tag Archives: Planning

Central Market Rabat. Source: Postcard, 1925 (Author’s collection).

Rim Yassine Kassab writes:

In 1925, the Central Market of Rabat was built at the outskirt of the medina (the old city) by French Colonial powers (1912-1956). Despite being the only element displayed in colonial maps of the medina, and one of Rabat’s current landmarks, the history of the market is still unknown. Drawing on the National Moroccan archives and on colonial postcards, the article explores the historical and urban significance of the Central Market for Rabat colonial and postcolonial history. It argues that the market constitutes a unique architectural and urban case for Rabat as it both challenged and reinforced the colonial agenda. Planning principles like the policy of association, the ‘image of the city’ and the ‘dual city’ were not only defied by the market, but also by the demolition of the part of the wall in front of it. This revealed the inconsistencies and lack of homogeneity of the colonial approach. Moreover, without the wall, the medina became penetrable by the ‘Ville Nouvelle‘ (New Town). Engaging with the Central Market is significant for the history of colonial planning, but also for today’s Rabat identity construction, inscribed in 2012 in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and elected cultural capital in 2022.

Read the full article in Planning Perspectives , Open Access:


II International Conference on ‘African Urban Planning’


7 – 8 September 2017


University of Lisbon, Portugal



Institute of Geography and Spatial Planning, University of Lisbon & International Planning History Society (IPHS)

Conference Website:

Conference e-mail:

Important dates:

– Submission deadline for abstracts: 31 January 2017

– Notification of abstract acceptance: 15 March 2017

– Registration and payment: 1 – 15 April 2017

Flyer: aup-2017-lisbon_conference-flyer

Book Review: Jaqueline Tyrwhitt: A Transnational Life in Urban Planning and Design

Ashgate, Farnham, 2013.

By Ellen Shoshkes

ISBN 9781409417781

44 black and white figures



What an extraordinary life. This biography carefully chronicles and assembles (in some detail) the life and career of one of the forgotten heroines of the twentieth century planning world. Forgotten is perhaps too strong, as Tyrwhitt is one of those figures that ‘crops up’ rather regularly; aspects of her work are frequently mentioned in conference presentations or cited in journal articles, but she is never the focus of attention despite being, as Shoshkes reveals, a global player. Indeed she is almost omnipresent throughout the planning sphere of the twentieth century when one reads the amount of work she facilitated and the influence she held over publications, translations, lecture courses, planning strategy, international housing and development programmes. Furthermore, she also undertook considerable research into urbanism and planning, yet this is the first volume to draw all these twists and turns together. A good biography is able to not only describe and discuss the person in question, but to also pull in the wider debates and to position the life and works within a broader context – this book manages to effortlessly achieve this feat and is to be commended for it. The narrative adopts a chronological format split over five parts, which neatly track the major episodes of Tyrwhitt’s life. Perhaps one of the reasons for Tyrwhitt’s relative obscurity is because she didn’t have a career in the conventional sense, but rather careered through life bouncing from one project to the next, barely making ends meet. She was also a woman, unmarried, sometimes unkempt, and seemed to care for little beyond friendships and her work. She didn’t establish her own practice or publish provocative tracts, rather operated in a supporting role for the likes of Jose Luis Sert, Sigfried Giedion and Constantinos Doxiadis. As a planner, she left few tangible remains and was not concerned with formulating her legacy as some of her more egotistical collaborators were. She was more focused on getting the job done and took on the important tasks of organising, facilitating and disseminating findings, often with little appreciation from those she made look exceptional. One of her most prolonged and significant roles was translating Giedion’s epic publications, although to label Tyrwhitt’s contribution as a translator somewhat undersells her contribution. She was really a co-author and collaborator, honing Giedion’s ideas and clarifying his arguments – as well as translating them into English. She had a longterm friendship with Giedion which may have strayed into romance, but even this collaboration had its limits and Tyrwhitt stopped working with Giedion long after what most associates would have endured or put up with. Throughout her life there were strong male characters that she supported and encouraged but in the course of time these roles were often inverted and they became dependent on Tyrwhitt.

Although one may know something of Tyrwhitt’s life and work (most planners will be aware of the book she edited on Patrick Geddes in India, for example) this book reveals so much more, and it is very surprising just how far and wide she worked and travelled. One of the more shocking revelations is Tyrwhitt’s involvement with the British Fascists and her decision to experience Hitler’s Germany firsthand in 1937. Very little is said about Tyrwhitt’s political persuasions in later life, but judging from the company she kept it can be safe to assume that she ‘mellowed’ from her early flirtations with the political Right. Her work with the UN in India and Indonesia is another significant aspect of the book and adds new insight into the international agencies that operated in the post-war era. The sources are drawn from numerous archives and the research is detailed and thorough; although very little critical appraisal of Tyrwhitt’s work is made – was any of it implemented, or did any of her students put it into practice? Perhaps an epilogue of influence could have been added as a reprise or conclusion, but this is surely minor criticism of what is a substantial and valuable contribution.

This is a welcome volume to the history of twentieth century architecture and planning; it fills so many gaps, opens up new connections and networks, and goes someway to finally giving Jacky the credit she deserves for a lifetime’s concerted effort to improving and understanding our cities and landscapes.

Sri Lanka, Oliver Weerasinghe and Patrick Abercrombie

I’ve been interested in the work of Patrick Abercrombie for some time now. His 1943 London County Plan (developed with John Forshaw) was a war-time best seller and is filled with wonderful drawings and coloured plans that I enjoy looking at, and I frequently cycle past the white rendered late Georgian house in Oxton that he used to live in. This is a quick post to show some of the material I’ve uncovered to date.


Figure 1 Patrick Abercrombie

In addition to developing several plans for UK cities, he also produced a plan for Dublin, but far less known is the work he did in Sri Lanka in the 1940s and 1950s. It is this work that I’m currently (and very slowly/intermittently) researching. He prepared a a regional plan for Colombo in 1948 working with a local architect Oliver Weerasinghe (Government Town Planner, b?-1980), as well as editing the town planning policy for the city. In their report they noted,

‘The re-planning and re-construction of the slum areas of Colombo and the obsolete parts of the built-up areas of the city to meet present day requirements is also a regional planning problem of first importance. The adoption of lower housing densities and greater recreational open space in these re-planning schemes will leave an “overflow” population which will have to go outside the existing built-up areas.’

To accommodate the ‘overflow’ population they proposed to build three towns at Ratmalana, Homagama and Ragama. Each town, located around 10 miles from the centre of Colombo and linked together via a ring-road was each to accommodate around 40,000 residents.

I’ve found the broad planning proposal they proposed for Colombo, along with some photographs of the three settlements prior to their development.


Figure 2 Colombo Regional Development Plan: New towns coloured in magenta.


Figure 3 Ratmalana New Town, as existing.


Figure 4 Homagama New Town, Hospital prior to development

Weerasinghe and Abercrombie also worked on the Anuradhapura preservation scheme together, developing a plan in 1942 that was subsequently developed post-war with a view to preserving the ancient temples and monuments as well as developing new housing proposals for the town.


Figure 5 Proposed plan for Anuradhapura

Weerasinghe was one of the first qualified engineers in Sri Lanka. He studied at Cambridge, and later as one of Abercrombie’s Civic Design students at Liverpool (which explains their subsequent collaboration). After practicing as Government Planner he served as Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States in the 1960s before returning to his planning roots as an Inter-Regional Advisor in Urban Development of the United Nations (1971-1973), working in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean. From 1974 he continued as a UN development consultant.


Figure 6 Oliver Weerasinghe

Chandigarh Exhibitions in Canada and Belgium

There are two exhibitions on the architecture and planning of Chandigarh currently on show – one at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal, and the other by Archipel at Kortrijk, Belgium.

The CCA exhibition is entitled How architects, experts, politicians, international agencies and citizens negotiate modern planning: Casablanca Chandigarh, and has been curated by Maristella Casciato and Tom Avermaete. It runs until 20th April 2014 and a publication to accompany the exhibition is to be released early 2014. I haven’t seen the CCA exhibition, but its extensive use of Pierre Jeanneret archival material promises to open up new vantage points from which we can view this intriguing city.

The Archipel exhibition has been curated following a visit to Chandigarh by 130 Belgian architects who descended onto the city, and captured not only the architecture but also something of the daily life of the place. Using a series of projectors rather than still photographs, the exhibition is constantly in flux as the large images switch from historical details through to the latest buildings, housing and street scenes. Interviews and films are also broadcast and sound recordings captured in India help to transport a little bit of Chandigarh into Europe. In addition to displaying images and sounds of Chandigarh a side exhibition investigates the relationship between the urbanism of Kortrijk and Chandigarh. An extraordinary collection of material has been gathered as a result of the visit to Chandigarh and I hope it can be collated and published.

Chandigarh continues to provoke, inspire and challenge. It was refreshing not to see the original plan of the city critiqued, nor the hero worship of Le Corbusier; rather the exhibition considered how this great experiment has been adapted, modified and inhabited, and celebrates these interventions.