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Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani / Katia Frey / Eliana Perotti (Hgg.): Anthologie zum Städtebau. Von der Stadt der Aufklärung zur Metropole des industriellen Zeitalters. Band I.1/ I.2, Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag 2008, XII + 1259 S., ISBN 978-3-7861-2522-8, EUR 128,00
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Rezension von:
Micheline Celestine Nilsen
Ernestine M. Raclin School of Arts, Indiana University, South Bend, IN
Redaktionelle Betreuung:
Julian Jachmann
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Micheline Celestine Nilsen: Rezension von: Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani / Katia Frey / Eliana Perotti (Hgg.): Anthologie zum Städtebau. Von der Stadt der Aufklärung zur Metropole des industriellen Zeitalters. Band I.1/ I.2, Berlin: Gebr. Mann Verlag 2008, in: sehepunkte 9 (2009), Nr. 12 [15.12.2009], URL:

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Vittorio Magnago Lampugnani / Katia Frey / Eliana Perotti (Hgg.): Anthologie zum Städtebau

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The premise underlying this three-volume anthology is that although theories on the organization of life in communities had implications for the building of cities as early as Ancient Greece, these theories do not acquire configuring power until the Enlightenment. The stated purpose of this publication is to compile a comprehensive anthology of primary documents on the theory of urbanism written in the 18th to the 20th centuries. This research project, sponsored by the Architecture Department of the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich, is co-edited by a team of three, with four collaborators, and sixteen authors of short introductory texts.

Selections included in the anthology combine writings by architects or architecture theorist with literary, philosophical, political, scholarly, or journalistic texts written by social reformers, physicians, businessmen, administrators, philanthropists, scholars, historians, jurists, military men, economists, researchers, clerics, and amateurs, as well as urbanists. Texts were selected from published writings that were part of actual urban planning documents, from theories of urbanism, from literary responses to planned or implemented city planning projects, and from scientific investigations in other disciplines that have implications for urbanism. Criteria for evaluation included originality, coherence, complexity and concrete approach to the topic. Aside from one exception, all documents are reproduced here as originally published (first edition), in their original language (French, German, English, Italian, and one in Portuguese), and with deliberately minimal and unobtrusive editing.

The first volume of the anthology, divided into two physical parts with continuous pagination, includes text published between 1706 and 1899, on the city of the Enlightenment to the metropolis of the industrial age. The second volume, due to be released a year after the first, will include writings from 19th century theories of urbanism to the 20th century Modernist city. The third volume, already in print, covers debates on reconstruction after World War II to the contemporary city.

The selected texts in the first volume are presented chronologically within ten thematic categories or chapters, five in each part. Part one of volume one includes the categories: ideal city concepts (1720-1848), anti-urban reaction - alternative settlements and landscape in the city (1717-1897), architecture and monument - the city as aesthetic and historical artifact (1706-1888), beautification of the European City (1725-1834), and new definition of the city as community (1723-1854). Part two includes: critique of the industrial city (1794-1878), political implications of the urban discourse - housing and working class presence (1840-1886), renewal, infrastructure development and the middle-class city (1811-1893), the city as transportation and communication system (1837-1897), and ideology of progress - the technological city of the future (1810-1899).

Each chapter begins with a thematic essay written by one of the editors or their collaborators. More introductory than authoritative or argumentative, these 10-12 page essays are well-researched and include substantial endnotes. These notes almost act a secondary list of documents that could also have been included in the volume. They refer to multi-lingual bibliographic sources (although German literature is dominant), to additional relevant primary and secondary publications, and to related texts in other chapters within both parts of the volume. Each text is preceded by a one- to two-page introduction that provides biographical information on the author as well as publication and reception history for the selection. Concise mention of the author's contribution to the literature of urbanism situates the selection within its broader context. A detailed bibliographic citation for the text concludes the introductory section. The text selections are short, between five to fifteen pages, and presented without annotations. Introductions to the chapters and to the individual texts are written in German. Also included in each part of the volume are a complete table of content for the whole volume, a common chronological list of the texts, and an author index. Illustrations that accompanied the text selections have not been reproduced in these volumes.

This anthology is a milestone publication of primary texts in the field of urbanism in Europe and the United States from the eighteenth century to the present. Most useful for a specialized audience, it is also of significance for students, scholars and a general public interested in urban history or cities in general. The selection is inclusive of the Western cultures that have historically contributed most extensively to the discourse on urbanism, with references to additional significant publications in the annotations. The compilation of seminal texts in their original language reflects the international nature of the discipline. It also acknowledges that, today, language training is available and expected of the educated reader. Most significantly, this editorial decision eliminates the problems inherent with translations, even when executed competently.

Specialists may quibble that their favorite document is not included, or that an occasional error has crept in the introductory text (e.g. 255, Robert Owen's 1824-1827 American experiment was conducted in New Harmony Indiana, not Pennsylvania), but these are minor concerns given the scope of this project. This anthology will enrich the preparation of any course on urban history and theory: it will provide a framework for exploration of urban issues, delineate areas of more specialized discussions, and encourage investigation of otherwise little-studied sources that have import on urban discourse. Whatever the primary (or only) language of instruction, the anthology provides useful selections for assigned readings and class discussion. Translations for many of the included texts can be found, and may be substituted to the originals for undergraduate audiences. For graduate students reading for qualifying examinations in architecture or urban history, the anthology will provide an essential bibliography as well as practice for the required doctoral language training. When preparing a dissertation proposal, careful mining of this anthology will yield a workable preliminary bibliography of significant primary and secondary literature, to be expanded for in-depth study of more focused topics.

For the advanced scholar, the selection will enrich the scope in their grasp of the topic of Western urbanism, broadening the general knowledge required for enlightened and purposeful specialization. For the practitioner in the disciplines of architecture, urban design or city planning, the selections will encourage a more reflective stance toward urban questions, a welcome antidote to the increasingly technological approach that has prevailed for several decades in the field of city and regional planning. Because its content is of interest for scholars in many disciplines, from literature to history, political science, or sociology, this anthology should be included in the reference collections of all research libraries. It is an essential investment for specialized collections in architecture, urban history, urbanism and city planning.

Micheline Celestine Nilsen