AESOP-IFHP Lecture Series, Lecture 6: Professor Cliff Hague at the Univarsity of Latvia, Riga

International conference on “The Role of Europe’s Industry in the 21st Century”
The 10th European Urban and Regional Planning Awards

 Professor Cliff Hague

A Christmas Carol: the Ghosts of Planning, Past, Present and Future

13th December 2013, 10:30

University of Latvia, Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences,
Alberta iela 10, Room 313, Riga

Register here to the event. (There is NO registration fee)

Download the POSTER and INVITATION.


This is the sixth event in the Lecture Series by well-known planners, policy-makers and other ‘urban thinkers’, which is being organised by AESOP and IFHP in the framework of respectively the Silver Jubilee (2012) and Centenary (2013). The lecturers have been asked to present their ideas on ‘new vision’ for planning and territorial development. The lecture will be rounded off with a question and answer discussion with the audience.

The Lecture:
A Christmas Carol: the Ghosts of Planning, Past, Present and Future

“You will be haunted”, the Ghost told the Planner, “by Three Spirits. Expect the first when the bell tolls. Without their visits you cannot hope to shun the path I tread.” The air was filled with phantom planners, wandering hither and thither in restless haste and moaning as they went. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power…

As Christmas approaches the ghosts of Planning Past, Planning Present and Planning Future will visit the AESOP-IFHP lecture on 13 December. The First Spirit, “like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man”, the Ghost of Planning Past will show you dream-like Cities of Tomorrow, revealing hopes and joys and cares long forgotten: garden cities and cities of towers, cars racing along fly-overs, reconstruction of war-damaged cities, places for the people designed by experts and shaped by modern technology and ideas. “Strange to have forgotten it for so many years” observed the Ghost. “Let us go on”.

The Ghost of Planning Present comes clothed in one simple green robe but with shining icicles. Around its middle is a belt but the sword is eaten with rust. It will show you cities of today, austere places and palaces of plenty, where planners speak a new language of “delivery and outcomes”, “carbon-neutral”, “territorial cohesion” and “impact assessment”. The Ghost reveals a boy and a girl. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both.” On the boy’s forehead is written “Doom”.

The last of the spirits shows Planning Future and a Tomorrow for Cities. “They scarcely seemed to enter the city; for the city rather seemed to spring up about them…” whether as leaky hovels built from garbage or virtual spaces captured and negotiated on what was once called a telephone. Could the place-managers steer the cities through their recurrent crises? “I would do it” said the Planner, “if I could”. “You can”, said the Ghost. “Your skill is in building a practical vision for any place, knowing what makes that place special and what people share there. You can’t do it all yourself, you’ll need to do some things differently, but you have a part to play.”