About City Making

City Making has been taught by Savvas Verdis and Philipp Rode at the London School of Economics for nearly a decade. Students are presented with real urban challenges faced by city leaders and asked to make decisions using quantitative and normative analytical frameworks. For a course outline and further details please contact the Cities Programme on


Decisions on the future of cities are often taken based on specific normative frameworks. From greater utility to equity or improved livelihoods, these frameworks offer competing perspectives on what makes a good city. City making will introduce you to these frameworks and the more quantitative analytical methods such as cost benefit analysis that they rely on in order for you to make decisions on real urban challenges. Should you expand a congestion charging scheme? How do you come up with fair resettlement options? These are some of the challenges that we will be tackling in 2015-2016. For a full outline programme of City Making click here.

Meet Savvas & Philipp

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Dr Savvas Verdis is a Senior Research Fellow working in the advisory service of LSE Cities and an Infrastructure Economist at Siemens. He consults city and national governments on urban development strategies and the evaluation of urban projects. His most recent consultation includes an infrastructure feasibility study in the Amsterdam metropolitan area on behalf of the Dutch Government. Savvas has been teaching at the LSE Cities Programme since 2001 first with Richard Sennett and David Frisby and now co-convenes a course on urban project evaluation with Philipp Rode.From 2009 to 2012, he was founder and CEO of Rankdesk, a property ranking algorithm for residential investors. He received a PhD in political philosophy from Cambridge University in 2007 and more recently a Masters in Urban Economic Development from the Development Planning Unit at UCL. Mr Philipp Rode is Executive Director of LSE Cities and Senior Research Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He co-convenes the LSE Sociology Course on ‘City Making: The Politics of Urban Form’. As researcher and consultant he has been directing interdisciplinary projects comprising urban governance, transport, city planning and urban design over the last 10 years. The focus of his current work is on green city strategies which includes the coordination of the chapters on Green Cities and Green Buildings for the United Nations Environment Programme’s Green Economy Report. Rode organised Urban Age conferences in partnership with Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society in twelve world cities bringing together political leaders, city mayors, urban practitioners, private sector representatives and academic experts.

Political models

At the heart of City Making are eight political models that we consider pivotal for contemporary urban decision making. We look at Utility through the work of Jeremy Bentham; Egalitarianism through John Rawls; Liberalism through Friedrich Hayek; Developmentalism through John Maynard Keynes; Communitarianism through Robert Putnam; Citizenship through Juergen Habermas; Capabilities through Amartya Sen and Sustainable Development. For each of these models we introduce the quantitative frameworks that are most commonly associated with these political philosophies. These include cost benefit analysis, GINI coefficients, measurements of happiness, the sustainable livelihoods framework, Porter’s diamond of competitiveness and the triple bottom line.

bentham  rawls  Friedrich_Hayek_portrait  sen

Sample Case

Over the term, students will tackle four different cases where they will be asked to make a decision on a key urban policy or project and support their choice using any one of the political models introduced in class. Click on the document below for an example case on the future of London’s Congestion charging.


Guest Speakers

Over the term, students will meet four city leaders and urban practitioners who will introduce their work in urban governance, planning and transport. Previous speakers have included Isabel Dedring, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Peter Bishop, Former Director of Design for London and Pedro Miranda, Head of Siemens One.

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