chapter  4
Town Planning and Scientific Cartography
Pages 12

Between town planning and geography there are many points of contact. Both have as their object of study the surface of the Earth, and the changes which people have made to it in the course of aeons are major components of geographical as well as town planning research. From the intimate connection that binds these disciplines to the Earth’s surface, it

follows that the drawn representation of that surface is one of the most significant aids to the work of the geographer and the town planner. The importance of maps to geography is so great that people have decided – although only relatively recently – to take the map as a subject of epistemological research, in order to give scientific support to its foundations and objectives. This has given rise to the discipline of ‘scientific cartography’ (Kaartwetenschap) with which the name of Max Eckert is forever linked. Scientific cartography is a new discipline which is only in the very first stages of

development. Regarding its foundations, that certainty which the importance of the subject makes desirable has not yet been obtained, while its place among the geographical sciences is only a provisional one. Be that as it may, the object of scientific cartography is clearly defined: the study of all forms of cartographical recording of the surface of the Earth. This also indicates the significance of scientific cartography to town planning, whose task is in the first place the rational arrangement of the surface of the Earth, and which, in all its forms – from the simplest urban extension to the most complex regional project – uses the map as a technical aid and, above all, as an envisioning aid. Consider first the importance of cartography to town planning. Elsewhere I have

already said, ‘The availability of good topographical material, kept fully up to date and provided with carefully plotted height contours, is the sine qua non for every town planning activity, the lack of which makes rational planning impossible.’2