cold planning


Looking at the cities that were built from scratch during the 1950s and 1960s all over the world, it is astonishing to see how world population growth was accommodated along very similar lines in places very remote and different in culture and political background. A similar strategy and design method was applied in the construction of the villes nouvelles around Paris, the new towns close to London, the new parts of Stockholm, or cities such as Hoogvliet in the Netherlands. These cities were erected based on the ideas of the garden city, and a hierarchical ordering and zoning of functions relying on modernist urban planning. Starting in the London region in the 1940s, these New Towns soon became the panacea for urban growth in western Europe. Harder to understand is how the same modernist urban planning started to pop up and spread in developing, decolonizing countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The export of New Town principles can only be understood against the background of the Cold War period, in which the East and West were both competing for the loyalty of the Third World however they could. While the endeavours of the Soviet Union in this field remain largely unresearched, it is clear that the US sent out a number of urban planners and architects to countries in strategic places such as the Middle East. The hypothesis soon formed that urban planning was considered to be a powerful instrument in Cold War politics, and that the export of architecture and planning functioned as a means of cultural instead of political colonization.

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