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Planning Philosophies in 20th Century Australia

Planning Philosophies in 20th Century Australia

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Published by Guillermo Umaña
This paper goes briefly through the most important planning philosophies of the 20th century in Australia.
This paper goes briefly through the most important planning philosophies of the 20th century in Australia.

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Published by: Guillermo Umaña on Nov 01, 2010
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Guillermo UmañaMacquarie UniversityGuillermo.umana@students.mq.edu.au 
Planning Philosophies in 20
Century Australia
Since the first human settlements, social and power structures had shaped the differenttheories that influence planners in different eras (MacLaran & McGuirk, 2003). Asboundaries of planning are hard to define and planning is influenced by a variety of disciplines (Campbell & Fainstein, 2003), it did not appear as a distinct science until thebeginning of the 20
century. During this century, planning evolved from models andblueprints to science and processes; from technocratic and rational to flexible andcommunicative.In the first two decades of the 20
century, planning appeared as a practical science thatintended to fix all the urban problems that arose with the industrial revolution. Massiveimmigration and large-scale manufacturing brought a desire for reform to reduce healthand poverty issues associated with urban growth (Beauregard, 2003). Movements thataimed to improve efficiency and health appeared. The Garden City movement, promotingbalanced zones for residence, industry and commerce and the City Beautiful movementthat saw the city as grand civic art appeared during this period (Thompson ed., 2007).Planning started looking for guidelines to the creation of functional and attractive cities(Hamnett & Freestone, 2000) and modernism merged.Modernism arose with positivism as a pact between capitalism and the state. It was aholistic movement, where planners were seen as the integrators of different fragments.Modernism promoted the role of the state into eliminating social problems and acting forthe public interest and looked forward utopic futures based on rational and quantitativemethods. John Sulman´s and Norman Selfe´s ostentatious designs for Sydney in 1909 aregood examples of modernism at the beginning of the century in Australia. There were manytheorists of the Garden City and Beautiful City movements; Sulman´s book
 An IntroductionTo Australian City Planning
is an example of it. The Melbourne Congress in 1901 and theFederal Capital design (1911-12) confirmed the formation of modernist planning in Australia(Hamnett & Freestone, 2000). The end of the Second World War led the fist modernistmovements to decline and would add new concepts and objections to the modernist idea of planning.Social Democratic Managerialism appeared with the postwar master plans of reconstruction.It led to the professionalization and specialization of planning and innovations in land use
zoning, transport strategies and suburban development (Hamnett & Freestone, 2000).Planning started to be seen as a state-directed, technocratic and bureaucratic labor. InAustralia satellite towns and corridor cities became popular, as well as the construction of more freeways and high city centers influenced by American planning (Thompson ed.,2007). During this time, Planning was thought to be detached from politics and purelybased on rationality and expertise. In the decade of 1960, many theories against this ideaarose and critics brought Marxism as a solution to the social problems that could not besolved by modernism (Gleeson & Low, 2000).Although Marxism was never put into practice in Australia because of lack of politicalsupport, it led to the formation of new critics to the modernist ideal and finally to theconstruction of postmodernism. In the 1970´s, the Builder´s Laborers Federation in NewSouth Wales, created the Green Bans, which campaigned against what they calledirresponsible development (Gleeson & Low, 2000). During this period, new feminist andenvironmentalist movements questioned the role of the state in urban planning. LeonieSandercock, one of the most influential writers of the second half of the century in Australiawrote there has been a tendency to privilege the physical and technical and marginalizethe social and community (Sandercock, 1998). Modernism came apart because of itstotalizing vision and the lack of adaptation to new political and economic circumstances.Economic growth became the main objective (Beauregard, 2003).In the 1980´s neo-liberalism appeared with the boost of deregulations and free market. InAustralia this triggered privatization of airports and the creation of NSW EnvironmentalPlanning Assessment act (Thompson ed., 2007). Theories as the Communicative Planning,based on Jurgen Habermas ideas, came up with the view of planning as a collaborativepractice with desired public participation (Kitchen, 2006). The private sector gainedimportance in the Entrepreneurial City. In the 1990´s the Neoliberal City appeared withindividualism, competitiveness and a more powerful relationship between business andstate. Finally it led to the hybrid and cultural city we see today (Freestone, 2000).Postmodernism was built upon the principles of diversity and global hybridism. It rejects themodernist thought of single truth. The city compromises different ideologies, genders,nationalities and must respond to social justice, cultural identity and economicefficiency(Freestone, 2000). Edward Soja is one of the main postmodern theorists withpublications such as
The City and Spatial Justice.
His ideas, like many other postmoderntheorists are formed in a context of hyper-mobile capital, poverty and wealth in the samespace, individualism and consumption. In Sydney, the Mardi Gras celebration and the re-development of Redfern are examples of postmodernism. Planners are now seen as amedium for critical thinking, communication and values to make integrated decisionsbetween different fractions.

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