The last May 3, Beatriz Fernandez Agueda participated in a webinar at Instituto Universitario de Urbanística of Valladolid. She made a two-parts conference, exploring the circulations and shared ideas of the first XX century decades in urban planning history.
The first lecture was a reflexion about the 1919 competition for the design of “Greater Paris”. Beatriz undertook an analysis of the projects that participated in the cited competition. Most of them regrouping French and international architects, the ideas that structured their proposals exemplify the first disciplinary tools that further urban planning would develop; park systems, zoning, integrated metropolitan transport… The competition, held in the same year as the first French urban planning law, “Loi Cornudet”, was not finally implemented, but had major influence in the further evolution of planning tools and ideas in the French context.
The second part of the conference was an intellectual history of the French planner Leon Jaussely. Differently from a standard biographical research, Beatriz focused on the international lectures, researches and projects of this key actor of early XX century urban planning. Winner of the 1919 Paris competition, Anglo-Saxon and German influences, earned while working in Barcelona, allowed him to overpass the haussmanian planning heritage to focus on an economy-focused organization of the metropolitan region. He developed the concept of “space specialization”, anticipating the further development of zoning. However, differently to contemporary American planners, their proposals did not seek restrictive spatial choices. Jaussely proposed to boost the existing economic behaviour of urban areas by implementing metropolitan transports and reducing individual displacements.
In the last minutes of the session, an interesting debate about the nature of Taylorism in urban planning started; was the conception of the “city-as-a-machine” a priority of early XX century urban planners? Seeing the different models, ideas and dreams from which the “City-of-Lights” was object, and knowing its (not always dreamily) further metropolitan evolution during the XX century, a single question remained without being pronounced. Until what extent, the Paris metropolitan history was really influenced by urban planners, or was a consequence of the “invisible hand” of capitalist evolution?
Text and poster: Noel Manzano and UVa