John Turner

John Turner - publications

Works selected, ordered and annotated by John FC Turner (May 2007)

The Geddes Diagrams: Part 2. Their Contribution Towards a Synthetic Form of Thought, John (F.C.) Turner and W.P. Keating Clay (with Bruce Martin in Cities in Evolution, Patrick Geddes, (1915), Second Edition, editor Jaqueline Tyrwhitt, Williams and Northgate, London.
[The interpretation of Geddes’ pioneering general systems scheme of human activity triggered a life-long search for holistic ways of understanding relationships between people and environment. While Geddes’ approach has been inspirational for Bruce Martin and myself throughout our very different careers, neither of us could make practical use of his key diagram. Bruce, the senior student, is now helping me with the development of the Framework for Mapping Activity which I am now testing].
Dwelling Resources in South America with William Mangin (pp 366-370), Margaret Grenfell (p.378) Editors Patrick Crooks, Monica Pidgeon (General Editor). Architectural Design Vol 33 August 1963.
[The issue was prepared in response to a Sunday Times supplement bleeding-heart article by (the then) James Morris on the ‘barriadas’ of Lima. As well as learning from the barriada builders themselves, close association with Bill Mangin, anthropologist, had taught me to understand city growth in terms of people’s lives].
A New View of the Housing Deficit, paper prepared for a seminar at the Social Science Center of the University of Puerto Rico, April 1966. The Architects’ Year Book XII, 1970 editor David Lewis.
[If I have ever had an original thought, then this was it: that the independent variability of motivating priorities explains the counter-productivity of prescriptive housing production systems].
Uncontrolled Urban Settlement: Problems and Policies, Working Paper No.11 Agenda Item No 4. and (illus) for the UN Inter-Regional Seminar at Pittsburgh Oct-Nov 1966. Published in International Social Development Review No. 1, Urbanization: development policies and planning, United Nations, New York, 1968.
[This and other papers given at the Seminar led to decisions by the UN agency to suspend support for conventional housing projects and, subsequently by the World Bank (see Housing Issues and the Standards Problem, 1971, below)].
Barriers and Channels for Housing Development in Modernizing Countries, Journal of the American Institute of Planners. Vol 33 No 3. Reprint series Joint Center for Urban Studies of MIT and Harvard University.
[A case history illustrating the main points about priorities and standards id 134, about powers and procedures iid 262].
Housing Priorities, Settlement Patterns and Urban Development in Modernizing Countries, Journal of the American Institute of Planners, November 1968.
[An overview of rural and provincial to urban and intra-city migrations in some Latin American countries at the time].
Self-Help Housing in the USA: A Preliminary Report to the United States Department of Housing & Urban Development, Co-directed by JFCT with a team contracted by the Organization for Social & Technical Innovation, (Director Donald A Schon), Cambridge, Mass.
[The findings from all regions of the USA, significantly similar to those from Peru, confirmed the far greater productivity of traditional independent self-help construction and management than procedures imposed by agencies].
Housing Issues and the Standards Problem, Rehovot Conference on Urbaization and Development in Developing Countries, Israel, August 1971. Limited circulation. Publ. in Ekistics No 196 vol 33, Athens, 1972.
[This paper was prepared with a view to getting in touch with the Conference co- participant Robert Sadov, Directror of the newly established division for urban development at the World Bank. It led to meetings with Bank staff see Summary of the Points Discussed, below].
Summary of the Points Discussed with jacques Yenny and co. with a copy of Levels of Housing Action sent to Robert Sadov Memo to m. Jacques Yenny in charge of the Sénégal Sites and Services Project re discussion with Messrs Carrrere, Moss, and Yenny at the IBRD Nov. 3-4, 1971.
[These notes record efforts to point out the limitations of Sites and Services projects and the necessity of using them to initiate a ‘reversal of priorities from prescriptive “Package” projects to the providing “components” of infrastructure and maxmising the most effective and economic level of institutional changes to the “elements” of land and its tenure and credit].
Freedom to Build, Dweller Control of the Housing Process, Co-edited with Robert Fichter including the authored and co-authored chapters listed below; Macmillan, New York 1972, Libertad para Construir, Siglio XXI, Mexico 1976, Libertá di Costruiri, Il Saggiatore, Milan, 1979.
[This neglected book contains important chapters by erstwhile colleagues other than those with whom I co-authored the chapters listed below: Rolf Goetze, Peter Grenell, William Grindley, Hans Harms, Richard Spohn and the late Ian Donald Terner. All of whom were members of the team who prepared the 1969 report to the US Congress on Self-Help Housing in the USA, 1969 under the direction of the late Donald A Schon, Founder and Director of the Organization for Social and Technical Innovation, Cambridge, Mass.]
The Re-education of a Professional (Ch.6). An anecdotal account of experience during my fist year in Peru.
Housing as a Verb, (Ch.7).
[If I ever made an original point it is from the key observation I made on people’s housing priorities in ‘A new View of the Housing Deficit’, The chapters in Part 2 below set out the basic propositions discussed in the book].
Part 2 Increasing Autonomy in Housing: A review and Conclusions with Peter Grenell and Robert Fichter;
The Meaning of Autonomy.
The Necessity for Networks.
Increasing Housing Autonomy.
Housing By People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments, Marion Boyars, London, 1976, New York 1977. Translations: Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish.
[The book summarises my views on key issues discussed in papers published between 1963 and 1975].
Housing in Three Dimensions: Terms of Reference for the Housing Question Revisited, World Development Vol 6 No. 9/10.
[This paper reflects the debate on the issues raised by ‘bottom-up’ and ‘top-down’ systems – before the collapse of the USSR and the generalised awareness of climate change]
The Architect as Enabler of User House Planning and Design, Editor and co-author. Irina Lambert: architecture+competition, International Competition for Students of Architecture, UNESCO Prize 1984, also Able Enablers in The Architect’s Journal, Vol 80 No. 41, 1984.
[The brief was to design the tools, or ways and means by which local groups or communities can or could design their own dwellings. It drew far more interest from non-Western countries reflecting a deeper understanding of development].
Building Community, A Third World Case Book Foreword by Dom Helder Camara; Bertha Turner Editor co-authored with John F C Turner and Andrew Maskrey, for Habitat International Coalition’s Project for the UN International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, 1987. Building Communities Books/Habitat Forum Berlin, 1988
[The 20 case histories in the book are versions of A1 poster format presentations prepared and published by Habitat Forum Berlin, directed by Rainer Ernest, for the International Conference for the Year of Shelter for the Homeless held at the Reichstag in 1987].
Barriers, Channels and Community Control, Ch.9 in ‘The Living City, Towards a Sustainable Future’, editors David Cadman and Geoffrey Payne Routledge, London.
[This paper marks the beginning of efforts to make use of what I have learned for my own home town. As an intended complement to the use of Tony Gibson’s Planning for Real, giving emphasis to differentiating between ‘tools’ and ‘tasks’ or the ways and mean of carrying out a project in ways that enable local groups to assemble their own programmes to fit their own situations and capacities].
Tools for Building Community (TCR) – A Hastings Trust Project, Renate Ruether-Greaves and John F C Turner. ‘Building Civil Society, Current Initiatives in Voluntary Action’, Ch. 8.
[A first but premature attempt to apply the method described in the Barriers, Channels and Community Control paper, subsequently used by Dr. Ruether-Greaves in Stratford, London].
Interview of John F C Turner, World Bank, Washington DC 11 September 2000 From Google. An edited transcript by Roberto Chavez with Julie Viloria & Melanie Zipperer, audited by Rufolf V van Puyembroeck, Legal Department and Assistant.
[It was a lively conversation with plenty of laughter (the text is headed by an odd sentence that makes no sense)].
Tools, Nuts & Bolts: Reflections on Scale and Subsidiarirty in Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation: a personal view of development by people. Keynote address for the Urban Forum 2002, Washington DC, April 2-3 2002.
[Tools for Community Regeneration was demonstrated by Renate Ruether-Greaves and Jonathan Greaves at the Forum. The paper introduces my views on the necessity of Subsidiarity understood as bottom-up relationships, and Power as peoples’ capacities as well as institutionalised powers over people].
A Framework for Mapping Activity,
[Current work-in-progress, stemming from the initial student work on Patrick Geddes’ diagram. A database has been developed together with an up-dated vocabulary that overcome the limitations of Geddes’ synthesis; on-going work with Bruce Martin’s assistance in continuing correspondence. I am using the innovative facet-indexed database for reviewing my own past work with a view to identifying and clarifying relevant issues].

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John FC Turner

John FC Turner


John Turner is currently reviewing and reflecting on his work experience between the late 1950s and early 1970s, mainly in South and North America. Between 1965 and 1983 he directed courses on "Housing in Development" at MIT, the AA Graduate School and at the DPU. Since the early 1980s he has worked in and from East End of London and in Hastings since 1989 where he has worked voluntarily.

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