Leonardo Benevolo
The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, 1971, 1967, English; originally published in Italian
Nonfiction, Urban Design
5.2 x 7.8 inches, paperback, 186 pages
ISBN: 9780262520188
Suggested Retail Price: $25.00

From the Publisher. Carefully documented and copiously illustrated, The Origins of Modern Town Planning delves into the social origins and history of town planning in 19th-century England and France. The touchstone of Benevolo's research is the relationship between town planning and politics. The twofold origin of the planning concept found expression in two schools of nineteenth-century thought: the Utopians—Owen, Saint-Simon, Fourier—and their active vision of the town as a self-sufficient, coherent organism are contrasted with the specialists and officials who endeavored to remedy each urban defect individually by introducing new health regulations and social legislation into already existing towns. Despite the conceptual difference, however, Benevolo points out the shared ideology which inspired all achievements of thought and action—even the purely technical—and establishes its correspondence in spirit up to the time of modern socialism.

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Phyllis Lambert

When I read Leonardo Benevolo’s The Origins of Modern Town Planning (published in English in 1967) in the 1970s, I was struck by the importance of political theory manifested in the social positions of the 19th-century Utopian reformers, and the link between the technical and the political, which had been lost or ignored. To me this connection, put forward in this slim book, was revelatory, making a strong argument that got lost in larger studies. This publication supported my nascent sense of justice in the city and in buildings—not as objects, but as part of social, economic, and political life and the refinements of the art of architecture.

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