Twentieth century town planning has often been labelled international town planning. Ideas, concepts, plans and experiences circulated, were imitated and were innovated upon. Planning historians use concepts such as artistic inspiration and Schumpeter’s innovation theory to explain the international traffic of planning theory and experience. However, they pay hardly any attention to the international networks that are necessary to disseminate town planning thought.
The existence of an extensive international network and planning society (or Urban International) for the dissemination of ideas was characteristic of twentieth century planning. In my opinion, this international society was the primary factor responsible for the production of international town planning thought. This international discourse was not just defined by inspirational and innovative contributions, but was also heavily influenced by the way the Urban International functioned.
The Urban International is aptly analysed in recent literature by historians with an interest in local governance, such as Saunier. Despite the fact that we know a lot about the Urban International today, relatively little is known of its individual constituents. Among these the International Federation for Housing and Town planning (IFHTP), a pivotal player in the Urban International, has never been properly studied.
My thesis focuses on the IFHTP. Firstly, I want to reconstruct the history of this largely forgotten organisation. Secondly, I want to use the Federation as a case study to analyse how the Urban International operated on the micro level of the single network organisation. Finally, presupposing that the Urban International was not a neutral agent, I want to study how its nature effected and affected the international town planning discourse.
The study of the IFHTP is a fascinating subject in itself, but it is also very helpful for the study of Urban Nebula. The worldwide internationalisation of the Urban International after World War II, including its network, planning discourse and planning concepts, has a parallel in the globalisation of air traffic and the transformation of the airfield.