Slums, Squatters, and Smart Cities: The History and Theory of Urban Planning

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Ever wonder where the idea for void decks came from? Or why some parts of the city are denser and have taller buildings than others? Or what will happen to the city as driverless cars and data driven design becomes more prominent?

Model of the Plan Voisin for Paris by Le Corbusier displayed at the Nouveau Esprit Pavilion (1925) by SiefkinDR

Slums, Squatters, and Smart Cities is a course that addresses these sorts of questions by looking at the history and theory of urban design and planning from the nineteenth century to today. Developed by Dr Samson Lim who has worked in the field of urban planning for almost a decade and has a Ph.D. in history, the course begins with an examination of the urban transformations of the nineteenth century related to industrialisation in Europe and the US. It then introduces modernist approaches to shaping the city before covering ‘post-modern’ reactions to comprehensive planning ideals. It ends by refocusing on the cities in Asia, with the intention being the evaluation of the applicability of common urban design and planning ideas to cities in the region.

Lorategi-hiriaren eskema, 1902 by Ebenezer Howard (1850-1928)

Students in the course will read, discuss, and evaluate a wide body of scholarly literature and primary sources related to the emergence, development, and transformation of urban design and planning practices in relation to fluctuating economic, political, and social contexts. Key topics that the course covers include the changing goals of design and planning, the techniques used to intervene in the urban environment, and the evolution of political and institutional contexts in which design and planning take place.

Marina Bay Sands Panorama by Vicsandtheworld

In class activities will be supplemented with site visits to locations around the city, including to URA, selected new towns, and other relevant locations. Says Dr Lim: “I want our students to appreciate the ideas and the economic, social, and cultural forces that shape the built environment they live in and this class is an important first step in that direction.” The course will be launched in 2018.