40 Cities through
the Lens of
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
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
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.