Editorial by João Teixeira



The Decade of Spatial Planning and the Celebration of the Centenary of Spatial Planning

Let us celebrate the Centenary of European Spatial Planning, mindful of current significant problems facing society and the need to safeguard the future, and conscious that solving them creates responsibility of every one of us, using the present citizenship to safeguard the future. We should however also remember that in the past when there have been great problems in cities and regions, they were overcome through the application of the art and science of planning and the democratic participation of citizens.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Europe endured the First World War from 1914 to 1918.  Influenza pandemics between 1919 and 1920 killed more people than the Great War, making this outbreak one of the worst epidemics in human history. The depression which began in 1929 affected the world economy for several years, followed by the destruction resulting from the Second World War.  Housing, sanitation and other aspects of urban life were sub-standard and in some cases chaotic. 

Today the quality of life is incomparably better than in those times. Let us be mobilised to solve our present problems by taking the longer-term view, using our knowledge to improve the quality of life now and to safeguard it for the future.   

During the last century, spatial planning developed new ideas such as the Linear City, the Garden City and Modernism. These still influence spatial planning today. Important books have been published. New methodologies and designs have been conceived which are still in current use or updated. Regional approaches have been developed and new town initiatives launched. Green space has been promoted in regional planning and the importance of continuous green elements in urban design emphasised. The importance of urban plans has been established and the obligation to develop plans for cities enshrined in law.  New housing and new urban standards have become compulsory, whilst social housing has been promoted. 

This has all been supported by the creation of planning institutions, and the implementation of financing systems. The first professional associations were founded. The first local authority planning departments were created. As towns and cities have expanded, annexing nearby communities and villages, it has also become necessary to impose control mechanisms to protect the heritage of the built and rural environments and to ensure the implementation of the plan. 

These changes in spatial planning came one after another, influencing each other and furthering Arts and Sciences in an atmosphere of exchange, of acquisition of knowledge and of development of Society. Open competitions took place along with international congresses and exhibitions. The contact between planners in Europe and the USA and elsewhere, for example, Australasia, has enriched knowledge and experience. Spatial planning courses were established and specialised journals published.

The next Decade of Spatial Planning (2011-2020) is therefore an opportunity to celebrate these planning milestones, whether they are centenary or more recent events. It is opportunity to involve all those involved in planning, including politicians and other actors in order to:
discuss the issues facing spatial planning;
look for new ways to overcome the current crisis;
overcome the challenges of emerging problems;
create new ways and programmes of cooperation;
• mobilise cooperation between associations.

We in ECTP-CEU have been celebrating 25 years of collaboration between planning associations across Europe. The Societé Française des Urbanistes (SFU) is celebrating its centenary this year, and has prepared a wonderful exhibition of its history to be shown in 10 French regional capitals and several European capitals. Let us join the Asociatión Española de los Técnicos Urbanistas (AETU) in celebrating 35 years in the beginning of November this year in Madrid. 
Let us join the Association of European Schools of Planning (AESOP) in 2012 to celebrate 25 years of its work.
Let us join the International Federation for Housing and Planning (IFHP) in celebrating its centenary in 2013.
Let us join the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) when it celebrates its centenary in 2014.

Please let me know of any other important events that should be celebrated during The Decade of Spatial Planning (2011-2020) such as: the creation of planning and planners  institutes and associations; plans that upgraded planning knowledge; publication of important books, reports and laws; important congresses and exhibitions; new courses; reviews of planning;  important housing events; etc.

João Teixeira
ECTP-CEU Vice President and Honorary President
November 2011