President’s Report 2008

President‘s Report 2007: Laura Kolbe, Helsinki (20 June 2007)

The IPHS is an academic society. It has a global network, which is able to offer a worldwide platform for discussions about current practice to protect, enhance, promote knowledge of and generally take forward key sites in planning history.

It has been 1,5 years since the IPHS Council last met on the eve of the 13th biennial conference in New Delhi .During these 18 months, there has been much effort in trying to set in place the somewhat unclear management tradition and economic of our small but truly global academic society. This period has been also marked by a review of membership and publication activities and securing a venue for the 2010 Conference. The main aim has been to renew IPHS activities, membership service and publication program.

This Presidential report is my first to Council as President of the International Planning History Society for the term 2007-2010. It is presented in a situation when all ready can be seen the results of far-reaching changes in the situation in which the Society operates. These changes were mainly initiated under the previous President, Professor Rob Freestone.

Old and New President, and Retiring and New Executive Officers

Professor Robert Freestone‘s term as President ended at the IPHS New Delhi Conference. Freestone retired from President‘s post after many years of service to the Society. The Society thanked Freestone in New Delhi by underlining his great role for the society during the last decade. He made an outstanding contribution as Conference Convenor in one of the great IPHS conferences in Sydney 1998. Rob Freestone‘s speciality is planning history, in global and local context. He continues to be the leading figure within Australian urban and planning historians, well networked also to New Zealand.

Rob Freestone was the President of IPHS during years 2003 – 2006. During this time, on his initiative, major changes have been planned within the Society, and were to be realized during the last year. Rob has been an energetic planner of these changes, and great motor to realize them. On behalf of the Society I want to thank Rob for all the years he gave to Society, first as a Council Member, then as Secretary General and later as the President. On behalf of the Society I also want to thank Rob Freestone for all the years he gave – and will give as active member – to the Society.

The New Delhi Conference marked a bigger transition in management roles, with many long serving figures standing down. Progressively through 2006 Professor Helen Meller took on the Treasurer duties of the Society. Professor Stephen Ward, a former President, also flagged his intention of retiring as Secretary-General. Some major efforts have been made to find a suitable replacement – the situation is now on a more secure basis. The new convenor for electronic communication, Dr. David Pomfret started his period in 2007. He took the role of Communications Convenor, being also webmaster for Society‘s new internet home page and coordination of the IPHS-Connect list serve. Both these communication media have been vital in the transition year of 2007. Pomfret also took a role as editor of the former Planning History section (now IPHS section) of Planning Perspectives. The mantle of Conference Convenor was passed from Professor Binayak Rath to Professor Christopher Silver. Prof. Peter Larkham continued as Membership Secretary.

New Delhi (2006), Chicago (2008) and forthcoming conferences

The 2006 conference organized by Professor Binayak Rath and his team was a successful scholarly gathering in a memorable city. Chicago Conference 2008 was already under preparation. Expressions of interest to host the 2008 biennial conference were invited in late 2005 and Chicago was selected as the host city for 2008 conference. The co-convenors are Professor Christopher Silver (University of Florida) and Professor Robert Bruegmann (University of Illinois at Chicago). The aim was to run the conference immediately following the joint American Collegiate Schools of Planning/Association of European Schools of Planning Conference which is scheduled for 6-11 July 2008. Several central organizational and scholarly issues were discussed during the year 2007 in a group formed by Silver/Bruegmann and Freestone/Kolbe, the latter representing the Society. The theme of the conference is going to be: Public Versus Private Planning: Themes, Trends and Tensions.

Immediately after the New Delhi conference, a confidential e-mail debriefing was coordinated by the President to identify the cities of future conferences in Europe and Asia (China). Informal discussions were held with several interested parties. In May 2007 the President spent half-a-week in Budapest and Istanbul, hosted by academic colleagues, to sort out the possibilities to have a conference in one of these cities. Discussions were most fruitful in Turkey, where the university facilities were on more stable ground. Successful negotiations continued throughout the year 2007 with the possible conference host, Istanbul Technical University (ITU)‘s Department of Urban and Regional Planning and Urban and Environmental Planning and Research Centre. The proposal to host the conference in Istanbul July 2010 was received and commented on in spring 2008 by the Selection Committee chaired by the President and comprising Robert Freestone, Christine Garnaut and Arturo Almandoz. Comments came also from Executive Officers.

Other Conferences and IPHS

One specialist meetings were held in 2007 with the support of the IPHS. On 13-15 September 2007 Visual planning and urbanism in the mid-twentieth century, a workshop on the work and life of Thomas Sharp was held in Newcastle (UK), being organised by Council Member John Pemberton Many Council members and Executive officers participated in the 12th National Conference on Planning History in Portland, Maine 25-28 October 2007, arranged by the Society for American City and Regional Planning History (SACRPH). Members of Council and Executive officers participated in several national, regional and local planning and urban history conferences.

Spring 2007 Special meetings in Uppsala, London and Letchworth

In spring 2007 two special meetings were held between the President and the Treasurer of the IPHS. The first was in Uppsala, at Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study and the other in London. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss issues related to membership subscriptions including payment arrangements with Taylor and Francis, and reminder notices, prizes and editorial aspects on Planning Perspectives (PP), conference planning, and the future of the new International Planning History Society (IPHS) section in PP.

The President and the Treasurer visited of 17 May 2007 Letchworth, the Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation (LGCHF) and had a meeting with Mr. Alan Howard, Director of LGCHF. The aim was to discuss the future co operation. During the years 2005-2006, the LGCHF sponsored an International Research Fellowship in partnership with the University of Westminster. The financial agreement was 5 000 from LGCHF and 1 000 from University of Westminster. The selection of Fellowship was done together with University of Westminster (Dr. Maurits van Roojen). Two fellows have been selected: Dr Dorota Wlodarczyk (The Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden) in 2005 and Professor Dennis Hardy (Middlesex University, England) in 2006.

After the discussions with Mr. Howard, a suggestion was made by IPHS representatives on how to develop mutual understanding between the IPHS/the LGCHF. A Pro Memoria was prepared by the President on conditions on how to develop the International Research Fellowship; to give a new name (Letchworth Fellowship) and to encourage promising young scholars. Later, in autumn, it was clear that no results were to be seen with LGCHF. The situation is still open.

Membership Review

In August 2005 a review of membership was initiated and the process was finalised during the year 2007. The main tasks were to check current details of members, nominate possible future members, investigate reasons for membership lapsing, and identify channels through which society membership could be promoted. It was timely in view of the arrangement proposed with Taylor and Francis in 2007.

From 2007 proposed new annual membership fees are:

  • General membership – 35 pounds
  • Student membership – 25 pounds
  • Institutional membership – to be determined

Journals: Planning History / Planning Perspectives (PP)

The greatest change occurred during the years 2007 within the Society‘s publication program and profile as well as within membership fees. The evaluation of the position of the IPHS info bulletin Planning History finished in 2006 and a recommendation for new publishing policies were made by the former President Freestone. A number of members of Council were consulted on this issue. More intensive discussions since September 2006 have seen a firm proposal coming from Taylor & Francis to incorporate Planning History into Planning Perspectives from 2008. Helen Meller as the editor of Planning Perspectives and IPHS Treasurer has played a central role in the negotiations between IPHS and Taylor & Francis. The main results of this new arrangement were:

  1. Planning History bulletin ceased as publication after the last number in December 06.
  2. It re-emerged as part of Planning Perspectives in January 2008 (a 16 page section).
  3. A separate editor was appointed for this section.
  4. In the changeover period, members of IPHS received a copy of Planning Perspectives in January 2007. To obtain further numbers in the 2007 volume, members were asked to pay their subscription during spring 2007.
  5. The annual IPHS membership rate included now the subscription (35 for normal members and 25 for students). This was an increase but it was considered to deliver considerable value for money. The institutional rate was also determined in 2007.
  6. The IPHS logo started to appear on the journal title page.


The following prizes were announced at the 12th IPHS Conference in New Delhi in 2006.

1. Best book on planning history 2004-2005
* Anne Marie Broudehoux, The Making of Post-Mao Beijing, Routledge, 2004

In addition, following the Council decision in 2002 to introduce a complementary prize acknowledging the language and culture of the conference host, there is a new award for the best book in English addressing the planning history of South Asia and/or related to the region where the conference takes place.
In New Delhi the Best book on South Asian planning history, 2004-2005, was:
* Jyoti Hosagar, Indigenous Modernities: Negotiating architecture and urbanism, Routledge, 2005

The Society acknowledge the efforts of the Book Prize Committee: Dirk Schubert (Chair), Helen Meller, Nihal Perera and Peter Larkham.

2. Best paper on planning history in Planning Perspectives 2004-2005:
* Helene Vacher, ‚Extension planning and the historic city: civic design strategies in the 1908-9 Copenhagen international competition‘, published in Volume 19:3, 2004

This prize for the best research paper to appear in Planning Perspectives was sponsored by Taylor and Francis. The Society is grateful for the efforts of the Prize Committee: David Gordon (Chair), Michael Hebbert and Joseph Nasr.

3. Best postgraduate student paper presented at the conference:

* Andrea Yuri Flores Urushima, ‘Uzo Nishiyama‘s proposals for a planned urban expansion of Japanese cities’

This prize for the best paper written and presented by a postgraduate student was awarded for the second time. Society‘s thanks again to the relevant prize committee: Mark Clapson (Chair), Christine Garnaut, Mercedes Volait, Ravi Kalia, and Alicjia Smeltzer.

New prize committees were convened from 2007

Best book prize: Professor Dirk Schubert (chair), Dr. Nihal Perera (Ball State University), Professor Helen E. Meller and Professor Jose Luis Sainz Guerra (Universidad Valladolid)

Planning Perspectives Prize Committee: Professor David Gordon (chair) , Dr. Carola Hein and professor Ian Morley and Dr. Helen Porfyriou

Best Conference Paper Prize, under Dr. Jenny Gregory‘s chair


President: Professor Laura Kolbe (University of Helsinki, Finland)

Treasurer: Professor Helen Meller (University of Nottingham)

Secretary-General: Professor Stephen Ward (Oxford Brookes University)

Membership Secretary: Professor Peter Larkham (Birmingham City University)

E-Communications Coordinator: Dr. David Pomfret (University of Hong Kong, China)

Conference Convenor: Professor Chris Silver (University of Florida, USA)

Council Members

Elected Members 2005-2008

  • Prof. Eugenie L. Birch (University of Pennsylvania, USA)
  • Research Fellow Christine Garnaut (Louis Laybourne Smith School of Architecture and Design, University of South Australia)
  • Ass. Prof. David Gordon (Queen‘s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada)