Urbanie & Urbanus

Issue 2023 Dec

Future Vision

Issue 9, P.42 - P.49

The unfinished project for the socialist city and the legacy of its multiple ecologies


The transformation of socialist cities during the lengthy 20th century was closely integrated with the overall economic activities of the state and operated within a system where the means of production were nationalised and central governments were responsible for decision-making, be it spatial arrangement of the economy and political or military objectives of the country. At the same time, the transformation of cities during this period ideologically attempted to promote egalitarian society where access to assets and amenities, and allocation of commodities was consistent and equal to all. Somewhat surprisingly, as the topic has been relatively less discussed in previous literature, urban planning during the socialist era uncovers arguments for sustainable development. Yet, notions of priority during socialism also existed and this indicates some major constraints and dysfunctions in the transformation of cities under the centrally planned system of state socialism. This overview of the book “planning during socialism: views from the periphery” (2024 Routledge) offers some fresh support points to unpack the unfinished research challenges of studies of urban space of socialist cities through transversalities of political, economic and social phenomena that contribute to diverse spatial configurations.