(Re)-positioning Spatial Planning History and Historiography

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Since its emergence in the 19th century, modern spatial planning has served as a tool to address public health issues, to organise infrastructure, or to structure cities and landscapes. Throughout this period, planning has been both praised and challenged by the different actors involved. Governments and corporations have historically used planning tools to advance the political, economic, or social interest of select groups. In some cases, public and private planning authorities have implemented planning for the greater good of the local population. The history of planning contains many examples for better cities, for example, with green spaces for the whole population, public spaces and transportation or healthy neighbourhoods that benefit the society at large. In other cases, planning has created segregated spaces. Colonial planning of infrastructures for the extraction of raw materials or the generation of energy, the segregation of local and foreign populations, of rich and poor, the settlement of low-income populations in the vicinity of polluting industries are just some of the examples where planning has created and supported spatial injustice, often across the globe. Students of spatial planning need to be aware of the background of current planning systems and planned spaces and their global interrelationships to assess the impact of these histories on current and future planning practice. They need to understand the role that planning historiography plays in the promotion of select planning approaches over time and space as a foundation for responding to contemporary societal challenges, informing long-term spatial planning on multiple scales.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTeaching, Learning & Researching Spatial Planning
EditorsRoberto Rocco, Gregory Bracken, Caroline Newton, Marcin Dabrowski
Place of PublicationDelft
PublisherTU Delft OPEN Publishing
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)978-94-6366-604-6
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • spatial planning
  • history
  • historiography
  • education
  • societal challenges


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