Patrick Geddes

Patrick Geddes books and biography

Patrick Geddes

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Sir Patrick Geddes (1854 - 1932) was Scottish biologist and botanist, known also as an innovative thinker in the fields of urban planning and education. He was responsible for introducing the concept of "region" to architecture and planning.

He was born in Ballater, Aberdeenshire, Scotland on October 2, 1854 and died in Montpellier, France on April 17, 1932. He was knighted in 1932 shortly before his death.

Geddes shared the belief with John Ruskin that social processes and spatial form are related. Therefore, by changing the spatial form it was possible to change the social structure as well. This was particularly important in the late 19th and early 20th century when industrialization was dramatically altering the conditions of life.

Geddes demonstrated this theory through his work in Edinburgh's "Old Town". Here, in this most dilapidated area, he used associations with prominent thinkers who lived there in the 18th and 19th century (like Adam Smith), to establish residential halls. Here he situated his famous Outlook Tower, a museum of local, regional, Scottish, and world history.

He collaborated with his son-in-law, prominent architect, Sir Frank Mears on projects in the Middle East where in 1919 Geddes provided consultation on urban development of Jerusalem and authored 1925's master plan for Tel Aviv. He was the founder of the College Des Ecossais, an international teaching establishment located in Montpellier, France.

Geddes strongly influenced the thinking of the American urban theorist Lewis Mumford, as well as many other 20th century thinkers.

As an introduction to his work, Rutgers University Press has published the text of Geddes's first significant 1904 work, City Development, A Report to the Carnegie Dunfermline Trust.


  • The Interpreter Geddes: The Man and His Gospel (1927) Amelia Defries,
  • Patrick Geddes: Maker of the Future (1944) Philip Boardman
  • Pioneer of Sociology: The Life and Letters of Patrick Geddes (1957) Philip Mairet
  • A Most Unsettling Person (1975) Paddy Kitchen
  • The Worlds of Patrick Geddes: Biologist, Town Planner, Re-educator, Peace-warrior (1978) Philip Boardman
  • Patrick Geddes: Social Evolutionist and City Planner (1990) Helen Meller
  • Biopolis, Patrick Geddes and the City of Life (2002) Volker M. Welter

See also

  • Scottish Renaissance

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