We Are Not Alone!
Perspectives from Europe
Moscow, Vienna, Paris, London
Around 1900, attempts began in Europe to reorganise large and rapidly expanding urban areas, politically, administratively and in terms of planning. This was an extremely difficult process, and not just in Berlin, where efforts were hindered by conflicting interests and so rarely successful.
There are four main periods during which these attempts were pronounced. One: before the First World War, when metropolitan regions became a reality on a larger scale for the first time in history. Two: in the 1930s and during the Second World War, when democracies embarked on large-scale concepts under difficult conditions and hegemonic dictatorships set their sights on massive growth in their capitals. Three: in the 1960s, when suburbanisation was in full swing. And four: today, at a time when large, growing cities have to look towards a sustainable future. Here, four European capitals are of particular interest: Moscow, Vienna, Paris and London. All have been involved in the administrative development and urban planning of metropolitan regions for more than 100 years and are still wrestling with such issues today. In the following pages, there is an overview of the history, programmes and practice of urban planning in their metropolitan areas.
While Greater Vienna and Bol’šaja Moskva, like Greater Berlin, are unified municipalities, Grand Paris has remained an unrealised administrative project to this day. Greater London is not a unified municipality, but a regional association of 32 boroughs and the City of London, each of which of has limited powers as it is under the leadership of the Greater London Authority.
Bol’šaja Moskva (Greater Moscow)
Capital Region between Europe and Eurasia
Moscow is a city with wide vistas and long thoroughfares, but it’s rarely possible to make out the city’s historical structure. It looks very different on the map: There are five concentric rings around the centre, where the Kremlin is located, and they look almost like a matryoshka nesting doll cut in half horizontally. The innermost ring circumvents the Kremlin. Travelling in a clockwise direction, it goes through the Kitay Gorod neighbourhood in the historic quarter, past Zaryadye Park and along the high Kremlin walls that face the Moskva River. The Boulevard Ring is incomplete in the south, as it forms a semicircle from one river embankment to another, and it is crossed by a boulevard in the middle. The officially designated Third Ring was only completed in the 2000s and runs roughly parallel to the 54-kilometre-long Moscow Central Circle, which served as the border of the city until 1960 as the Moscow Little Ring Railway. Further out, the Moscow Automobile Ring Road (Moskovskaya Koltsevaya Avtomobilnaya Doroga or MKAD) dates from the early 1960s and encircles the city. It is over 100 kilometres in length. From here you can see how densely built up Moscow is. Tower blocks and monumental prefabricated suburbs fill the horizon. The Kremlin forms the core of this oversized matryoshka doll. It is symbolic of the lighter and darker sides of Russia: Joseph Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev – still considered heros by some – led the Soviet people for seven decades from inside its historic walls; now it is an attraction for legions of tourists with cameras in hand trying to capture the magnificence of old and new Russia.
Ugly and Bland?
Now The Most Livable City InThe World
For The Tenth Time
Vienna and Berlin: The two cities are polar opposites. Vienna was once the venerable capital of the Holy Roman Empire, while Berlin is the rustic upstart. When the German Empire was founded under Prussian leadership, Vienna’s loss of importance was inevitable. The incorporation of the suburbs in 1892, the regulation of the Danube and construction of the railway in the countries of the dual monarchy all contributed to creating the conditions for rapid industrialisation. Yet Berlin’s economy developed faster. However, the formation of Greater Vienna in 1892 became a model for Greater Berlin. Following the First World War, social housing, municipal infrastructure and local amenities were placed on a democratic and public service foundation in Vienna. The city lost its independence and became a federal city with the establishment of the Austro-fascist state in 1934. Between the annexation of Austria to the German Reich in 1938 and the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, monumental plans were developed for Vienna based on the model of Berlin, and an even larger Greater Vienna was formed in 1938. After 1945, Vienna, like Berlin, was divided into four occupation zones under the control of the Allies, and Greater Vienna was reduced in size again in 1954. The Allies left Vienna in 1955, accelerating the city’s car-oriented, suburban conversion and expansion. Later, the fall of the Iron Curtain brought economic benefits. The new city government has been strengthening the city’s institutions again since 2010. The city’s municipal housing and land policies in particular remain much-discussed – like in Berlin
An Unfulfilled Promise
Paris could already look back on a long history at the beginning of the twentieth century. France’s capital has been the subject of urban improvement projects since the Middle Ages. The major urban redevelopment programme managed by Prefect of the Seine Georges-Eugène Haussmann between 1853 and 1870 transformed Paris into a city committed to capitalism and modernity and made it a model for all of Europe. However, all of these plans focused on the area within the city walls. Comprehensive plans had not been made for Paris in the same way as those developed for cities like Vienna and Munich and their metropolitan areas at the end of the nineteenth century. Grand Paris only came onto the agenda at the beginning of the twentieth century. The various plans for the city region that have emerged since then testify to a rich and self-centred Paris alongside poorly equipped city suburbs. Paris intramuros developed differently from the surrounding metropolitan area, with the state playing a central role in the construction of new cities, transport routes and other large infrastructure projects. Although the Île-de-France region was finally created in 1976, its development has been characterised by a lack of ambition in the years since then. Since the turn of the millennium, the idea of a Grand Paris has been addressed in more detail in competitions and building programmes such as Le Grand Pari(s), the Grand Paris Express and Reinventing Paris, whereby competing urban concentration and development programmes urgently need to be coordinated.
Urban Development between Regulation and Deregulation
Greater London has an eventful history stretching back more than 2,000 years and currently has a population of around 8.9 million people. The port city on the River Thames has been a key centre for trade and services for centuries. It is also an important international financial centre and an outstanding centre of culture, creativity, innovation and research. The city has been growing dynamically since the 1990s, and the population is expected to increase to 10.8 million by 2041 – even if current development is marked by uncertainty due to Brexit. London’s urban development over the past 100 years reflects political trends at national and local level. Following the Second World War, the welfare state was very active and implemented social housing projects on a large scale, shaping large parts of London in terms of urban development. Unprecedented deregulation policies were pushed during Margaret Thatcher’s term as prime minister (1979 – 1990), culminating in the abolition of the Greater London Council and a planning vacuum. The Greater London Authority was established in 1998 during the Tony Blair era (1997 – 2007). It was significantly smaller and more modern. London experienced a renaissance in urban development at the turn of the millennium, and the 2012 Summer Olympics brought global attention to the regenerated east of the city. In the years since then, London has strived to transform itself into a sustainable city, promoting cycling and trying to ensure affordable rents in the housing market.