The New Town – From Welfare City to Neoliberal Utopia 

Lecture Series together with the International New Town Institute

Together with the the International New Town Institute (INTI), we offer an elective course for students of the Urbanism and the Architecture Master tracks. The lecture series is focused on the planning and (re)design of New Towns all over the world as well as sociological, cultural, political and economic aspects of new urban environments.

The course consists of a chronological order and explores the development of New Towns from different disciplinary viewpoints. The specific story we will follow is that of how New Town planning was based on experiments in the pre-war period with utopian, communal living, was then discovered by national governments as ways to further their very diverse political agendas and then became a symbol of modernization and progress in the postwar period. In recent decades however New Town planning has been privatized and become a tool for investors, developers and multinational corporations to create huge profits, thereby abandoning the original public goals of New Town Planning. We will not just try and enlighten the students with knowledge about this process, but also think with them about how to address this issue, and perhaps how to find some of the original idealism in the New Towns of the future, while thinking of ways to transform or preserve the New Towns of the past.

New Towns are different from ‘normal’ organically grown cities. They are planned differently, their political origins differ and their urban culture is different. In this lecture course, New Towns are examined through the lens of historical context, political background, economic logic and sociology. Issues that will be tackled in this course are: how can we understand New Towns as physical manifestations of their various backgrounds? How can we analyze the design models used by urban planners and how have they evolved? What is the culture of New Towns and how does it differ from that of a normal city? What methods exist to research social, political and economical developments and tendencies in new cities and how can they be evaluated? What are the contemporary planning issues of the new privatized cities of the 21st century? How can we conceptualize and explain these urban projects as part of the present global urbanization? What – if any – influence does the global financial and economic crisis have on the new generation of New Towns that are dependent on international investment? And what are the issues and potentials of the old New Towns?