40 Cities through

the Lens of

Patrick Abercrombie

Edited by

Mirjam Züger

Kees Christiaanse


This book celebrates Patrick Abercrombie and J. H. Forshaw’s renowned ‘Potato Plan’ and assesses its potential as an analytical tool for contemporary metropolitan territories. Originally drawn in 1943 as part of the County of London Plan, Abercrombie’s ‘Social and Functional Analysis’ poetically illustrates the city as an agglomeration of distinct communities, clusters, and centralities. The Potato Plan Collection comprises 40 Potato Plans from all around the globe, each being a reinterpretation of the original by local architects, urban designers and scholars. As a whole, the collection offers a new perspective on the structure of regional configurations in the urban age.

The book - published in 2018 - is the outcome of research done by the Chair of Kees Christiaanse at the ETH Zurich.

The book is published with nai010 publishers in Rotterdam.
The graphic design was directed by Studio Joost Grootens.



Addis Ababa Felix Heisel, Raphael Disler

Amsterdam Bart Reuser, Mark Jongerius

Athens Eirini Kasioumi, Eleni Papadaki

Bangkok Sonja Berthold, Apiradee Kaseemsook

Barcelona Melisa Pesoa, Joaqu.n Sabat., Jordi Franquesa

Beijing Zhu Wenyi, Liu Pinghao

Beirut Phillipp Misselwitz, Iman Charara

Belfast Michael McGarry, MArch Students at Queen’s

University Belfast

Bogota David Burbano, Natalia Ram.rez

Budapest Domonkos Wettstein

Buenos Aires Julian Varas, Sof.a Moneta

Cairo Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Roxanne De Raeymaecker

Cape Town Heinrich Wolff, Temba Jauch

Chicago Vedran Mimica, Jorge Serra, Agata Siemionow

Copenhagen Deane Simpson, Cecilie Overgaard Rasmussen

Dar es Salaam Mariam Abbas, Gunter Klix

Dublin Michael McGarry, MArch Students at Queen’s

University Belfast

Frankfurt am Main Martina Baum, Diana B.hm, Anna Kübler, Thorsten Stelter

Guangzhou Francesca Frassoldati, Anqi Ni

Houston Sarah Whiting, Sara Jacinto

Istanbul Alp Arisoy

Greater Jakarta Devisari Tunas, Miya Irawati, Stephen Cairns

Jerusalem Nilly R Harag, Asaf Bivas, Amnon Direktor

Lagos Fabienne Hoelzel, Aro Ismaila

Ljubljana Tadej Glažar, Marijana Krizmanić, Manca Košir, Jan Kozinc

London Peter Bishop

Mexico City Jose Castillo Olea, Saidee Springall, Monica Arzoz, Annika Ussel

Milan Cino Zucchi, Giulia Novati

Munich Roman Leonhartsberger, Mark Michaeli

New York Georgeen Theodore, Thomas Dores

Osaka Metropolitan Area Jan Polavka, Svenja Krings

Oslo Marianne Skjulhaug, Miles Hamaker

Riga Sandra Treija, Hilda Treija

Rome Stefano de Martino, Alexander Gogl

Ruhr Region Anne S.fker-Rieniets

Sofia Georgi Stanishev, Greta Dimitrova-Mandova, Atanas Kovachev, Igor Yankulov

Tel Aviv-Yafo Els Verbakel, Adva Matar

Toronto Mark Sterling, Sabrina Yuen

West Midlands Daniel Bl.ser

Zurich Mirjam Züger


The Potato Plan



From the first moment we saw Patrick Abercrombie’s diagram of London’s community structure, officially named ‘Social and Functional Analysis’ → Fig. 1 also known as the ‘egg diagram’ or, as we call it, the ‘Potato Plan’,1 we were fascinated by both its beauty and its striking clarity.

This diagrammatic plan, produced in 1943, was part of the County of London Plan commissioned by the London County Council (LCC) and authored by Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie (1879–1957) and John Henry Forshaw (1895–1973). It was the first comprehensive regional plan of London and includes maps of a Community and Open Space Survey, Open Space, Development and Zoning, Roads, Preliminary Industrial Proposals, Density of Population and Deep Railway Tracks. Preceding the Greater London Plan from 1944 for a much larger area, also led by Abercrombie, the project was meant to outline a vision for a post-Second World War development of London, which had faced bomb damage and irregular growth caused by large population movements. The plan attempted to find solutions to the problems of traffic congestion, depressed housing, inadequacy and mal-distribution of open spaces, the jumble of houses and industries, and the sprawl and suburbanization of surrounding country towns.2 The Potato Plan as the visual centrepiece, illustrated by Arthur Ling, was part of the first chapter of the County of London Plan entitled ‘Social Groupings and Major Use Zones’. 6,000 to 10,000 people. Basic amenities, like schools and churches, would be offered in the centre of each neighbourhood. In parallel overarching amenities like a townhall, hospital, or institute of higher education would be located in the centre of the community, to enable the idea of living, playing and working near home. Each potato should be surrounded by a green belt to ensure immediate recreation and avoid overlaps with other potatoes. By overcoming a necessary migration to the city centre for supply and work, not only could the desired independent spirit of the neighbourhoods and communities rise, but space would also be created for new developments and green areas in the core city.