Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) has become known by the rather dreary title of "the father of town planning". He worked across the fields of biology, botany and sociology, founding "the world's first sociological laboratory" - the Outlook Tower in the Lawnmarket of Edinburgh in 1892. His pioneering work in Dundee, London, Paris and Jerusalem, and in Cyprus, America and Mexico preceded several years in India. He produced community development schemes in and around Conjeevaram, Lahore, Lucknow, Nagpur and Pinjaur before being appointed the first Professor of Civics and Sociology at Bombay University. He later established the Colleges des Ecossais, a school aimed at fostering multidisciplinary studies in the Langue D'Oc region of France. He died in Montpellier in 1932.

His notion of synergy, sympathy and synthesis, and his generous internationalism make him a unique starting point for exploring the issue of the city today. As Rem Koolhaus has written: 'Since it is out of control, the urban is to become a major vector of the imagination...we were making sand castles. Now we swim in the sea that swept them away.' Our aim is to focus on his idea of "the literature of locality" at a time today when globalisation has replaced any notion of a local economy, and when for the first time more than half of the worlds population live in cities.

Contributions in the form of book reviews, feature articles, visual ideas and essays
are welcomed that relate to:

Today, more than a billion people live in urban areas where air pollution exceeds acceptable levels. Cities take up less than 2% of the Earth's land surface, but use 75% of the resources we take from the Earth. As industrialisation moved around the globe, the world’s top five cities were all located in the north. By 2015 they will be overtaken by modern megacities, mainly in the developing world. Less than 1% of homes in Addis Ababa are connected to a mains water supply, while in Ho Chi Minh City more than 70% of people drive to work. These are the cities of death predicted by Geddes.

Email your contributions and correspondence to:


reviews archive background