Joël Meijer de Casseres

02-08-1902 - 14-09-1990

J.M. de Casseres coined the term ‘planology’. To him, planology stands for the melding of science and design. Research must provide the basis for a plan in which future social developments are translated into a spatial design that encompasses all levels of scale – from local to national.

Joël Meijer de Casseres is born in 1902 in Beverwijk, into a Portuguese-Jewish family. In 1922, he graduates from the college for architecture and arts and crafts in Haarlem, and pursues his architectural training at the Technical High School in Dresden, the Town Planning Institute in London and the Institute des Hautes Etudes Urbaines at the Sorbonne in Paris. His cosmopolitan education gives De Casseres a broad, international approach to urban planning.

At the age of 24, he publishes a book on city planning, ‘Stedebouw’ (1926) in which he advocates integrating sciences that share common ground with designing the urban and natural environment, into a new discipline. In 1929 he publishes his ‘Principles of Planology’ in ‘De Gids’, introducing a new and broader-based concept - ‘planology’ - to replace terms such as ‘urban development’ and ‘urbanism’ that primarily elicit associations with the city and with architecture.

In 1929 De Casseres takes up a post with the Municipal Works Department in Eindhoven, one of the fast-growing Dutch cities at the time. He is head of the regional planning department from 1933 to 1938. He uses planology as a tool for regulating the infrastructure of industrialisation in Eindhoven and streamlining the population flow from villages to the industrial areas. His academic approach to the spatial issues in Southeast Brabant are greeted by resistance. In 1935, a local paper (the Dagblad van Noord-Brabant) contends that, because of his background, he is unfit to design catholic villages. In 1938 is honourably discharged from office.

De Casseres leaves for a study trip to the United States and visits the former Netherlands East Indies on the way back. He returns to the Netherlands as war breaks out. Now under occupation, and with the Germans imposing anti-Jewish measures, he is in no position to continue his work. After the Second World War, and until his retirement in 1968, he works for the Ministry of Agriculture where he introduces agrarian planology.

Despite crucial insights into spatial planning, De Casseres enjoys little popularity. His large-scale thinking, the academic foundation of planology and the euphoric and erudite tenor of his publications lead to him being a contested figure at a young age.


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