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Old Books New Cities

The pressing need to reconstruct cities after the Second World War and the sudden post-war rise in population led the public sector to assume an ever-increasing role in the design and construction of the urban environment. In different political contexts, large urban developments or the construction of entirely new towns were directed by municipal or state powers and became an integral part of policies, often influenced by strong ideologies. Such a tendency can be recognized in Western Europe, marked by a social democratic agenda in the United Kingdom or in the Scandinavian countries, which extended the notion of welfare to dwelling; in the countries of the Communist block and in Yugoslavia; in South America, as part of an attempt to modernize countries such as Argentina and Brazil; and within recently de-colonized nations, which recognized in these projects the possibility to shape their own development and sustain new identities.

The books, pamphlets, magazines, maps and publications presented in this small display represent an initial selection of primary sources one can find in the CCA library. These materials testify to the intensity of production of this period (1945—1989) and governments’ strong belief that the public sector should take an active role in the design of environments for their citizens.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition How architects, experts, politicians, international agencies and citizens negotiate modern planning: Casablanca Chandigarh, a study of two cities that have played a paramount role in the evolution of urbanism in the 20th century.