The aim of this project is to understand and unpack the roots of the planning discipline. In difference to existing ‘planning history projects’ we seek to explore the roots of planning through the eyes of selected individuals who influenced and shaped the field of planning over the last five decades. Understanding the history of the field of planning through oral histories enables us to grasp also the impacts of historical events, demographic change, political systems, etc. of an ever changing world, on the history of the field. This approach makes it possible to understand how planning thoughts can be adopted meaningfully in a different time, context and situation.
The project was born out of the need to capture the wisdom of the first generation of planners that are retired or are reaching retirement. The finite amount of time that the current and next generation of planners have to accumulate this information underlines the ‘now or never’ aspect of this project. When this highly influential generation is gone, their knowledge will be lost. This makes this project an extremely time sensitive endeavour.
We argue that it is important to understand the evolution of planning thought in the context of personal values and experiences as well as in relation to an ever changing world, from those individuals who have firsthand knowledge of this intellectual evolution. Through their historical accounts of the emergence and development of the field of planning, we can not only reflect on the past to resolve our current issues but we can reflect on the past to further the field of planning in the future.