Planning and participation in 1950s Italy

16 September 2007 | blog, comment, place making, working with communities


Courtesy of the excellent Planum online journal of urbanism, these fascinating short films are a reminder that [tag]consultation[/tag], [tag]participation[/tag], enabling and involvement are not at all new. The films were part of the town planning exhibition set up for the [tag]Tenth Milan Triennale[/tag] in 1954 by Giancarlo De Carlo (1919-2005), Carlo Doglio (1914-95) and Ludovico Quaroni (1911-87). They said:

‘This is the Town Planning Exhibition. We won’t show you models, designs, drawings or technical material because we know that you wouldn’t want to look at them. …We would like to persuade you that […] you have the right to contribute you opinion and your action. You are the central figures of all that Town Planning invests in its work’

Predictably this upset architects especially Bruno Zevi who wrote in his column for the weekly L’Espresso magazine, ‘The exhibition manages to annoy everyone…’, and defined the trio as ‘the anarchists who rip up plans’. It’s rather as if nothing much has changed.

The intention of the three films and the entire layout of the exhibition is very clearly stated in the final words of one of the three films:

‘Go to your city, man, and work with those who want to make it more human, more similar to you’

The full commentary and explanation of the films is available here. See all three films in sequence below. Planning and participation in 1950s Italy.

Planum has started an archive of interesting short movies on town planning currently featuring the 1980s renaissance of Barcelona, the life of small spaces in New York and German and French short films on city building from the 1930s.

Willie Miller, the founder and principal of WMUD, died on 12th January 2021 after a short illness. Willie was a much-loved husband and father and had a huge circle of friends  and professional colleagues. He was a multi-talented urban designer whose work had a major impact on hundreds of cities, towns and neighbourhoods throughout the UK and over the past 25 years. He also worked in Ireland, the Channel Islands and the USA.

Ines Triebel has been with WMUD since 2005, and she will continue the practice, drawing on her skills as a planner and designer. Ines has worked on place strategies, masterplans, policy guidance, regeneration and development frameworks, and the design of public realm and streetscape projects. She has extensive experience of working with communities, including charrettes.

WMUD will continue its long-standing strategic partnerships with Benton Scott-Simmons, Nick Wright Planning, Kevin Murray Associates, icecream architecture, yellow book and others. Please direct inquiries to Ines at [email protected] or contact any of the practices named above.