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Cornelis van Eesteren, architect and planner

Van Eesteren inspecting the IJsselmeerpolder


Cornelis van Eesteren (1897-1988) was one of the most prominent urban planners of this century. After training as an architect, he turned to planning and won first prize for his design for modernization of the Berlin boulevard Unter den Linden. This led in 1927 to his appointment as visiting professor at the Staatliche Bauhochschule, Weimar.

From 1929-1959, Van Eesteren worked for the Town Planning department of the Municipality of Amsterdam, where he developed the Amsterdam General Extension Plan together with Van Lohuizen. He was chairman of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM) from 1930 to 1947. The Athens Charter was drawn up under his chairmanship. He made important contributions as a consultant on the arrangement of the Southern IJsselmeerpolders (1940-1965). After the war, he was appointed as extraordinary professor in urban planning at the Technical University of Delft. One of his last projects was the town plan for Lelystad, which was however not executed.

General Extension Plan for Amsterdam, 1929
Existing city in 1929: black
Planned extension: red


Cornelis van Eesteren rooted his work in the social context. His approach was to identify social (urban) issues that called for spatial solutions. He did not start from a preconceived formal idea but allow the form to grow out of a prior analysis. He always tried to get to the heart of the urban development problems. The 'functional city' concept he stood for was evident in the General Extension Plan for Amsterdam (1929), with which his name is invariably linked. The plan was based on statistical forecasts of population growth which were used to calculate the requirements for housing, leisure facilities, employment and traffic.
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