Alain Bertaud   (  阿·柏图 )  is an urbanist, a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Mercatus Center at GMU, and a senior research scholar at the NYU  Marron Institute of Urban Management. He just completed writing a book about urban planning that is titled “Order Without Design: How Markets Shape Cities“.  This book has been published by MIT Press in November 2018. Bertaud previously held the position of principal urban planner at the World Bank. After retiring from the Bank in 1999, he worked as an independent consultant. Prior to joining the World Bank, he worked as a resident urban planner in a number of cities around the world: Bangkok, San Salvador (El Salvador), Port Au Prince (Haiti), Sana’a (Yemen), New York, Paris, Tlemcen (Algeria), and Chandigarh (India).
Bertaud’s research, conducted in collaboration with his wife Marie-Agnès, aims to bridge the gap between operational urban planning and urban economics. Their work focuses primarily on the interaction between urban forms, real estate markets, and regulations.


An interview with Paul Romer, Nobel Laureate in Economics 2018, on my book publication “Order without Design: How Markets Shape Cities”


As an urban planner, my goal is to translate the theories (and sometimes the jargon) and equations of urban economists into approaches and methods which can lead to concrete decision making in the everyday world of an urban planning office.  The following reports and papers, always produced at the request of a municipality or of an urban investor (mostly the World Bank), illustrate these new approaches and methods. I have written these reports and papers over a long period. I am updating this site regularly with new work. However, I am keeping the older reports available on this website because it is always interesting to know how priorities and strategies have changed over the years.
Urban Spatial Structures and City Planning

Average Built-up Densities in 58 Metropolis

(PDF file)

“The Spatial Organization of cities”

(PDF file; 3.9 Meg)

“Urban Planning and Air Pollution in South Asia”

(PDF; 0.3 Meg)

“Efficiency in Land Use and Infrastructure Design”

(1988) Co-authored with Marie Agnes Bertaud and James O. Wright (PDF 6.5 Meg)

“Note on Urban Transport and Cities Spatial Structures”

(ABDCE Conference April 2002) (PDF 3.5 Meg)

Policy responses to informal housing : regulatory reform :

“(Princeton, April 9, 2003) (PowerPoint 3 Meg)

Política del Suelo y vivienda: la experiencia international”.

(Ciudad deMexico, 3 de Julio 2003, PowerPoint 3.5 Meg)

“Analyzing Building-Height Restrictions: Predicted Impacts, Welfare Costs, and a Case Study of Bangalore, India”

coauthored with Jan K. Brueckner, (April 2003) (PDF, 0.5 Meg)

“Ideology and Power: Impact on urban shape of cities in China and Vietnam”

Architectura y Urbanismo, Brazil , # 225 December 2012 issue,(PDF 4 meg)

“Converting Land into Affordable Housing “

World Bank’s Sixth Urban Research and Knowledge Symposium, October 2012 (PDF  1.3 MB)

Planning Course for Chinese Urban Planners

prepared for China National School of Administration (CNSA) and the World Bank Institute (2003)

Course 1 :  The use and value of urban planning

Course 2 :  The role of markets, urban planners and government

Course 3 :  The spatial structure of cities: International examples of the interaction of government, markets and topography

Course 4 :  Practical decision facing urban planners

Cultural Heritage, Preservation, and Markets

(Vienna, UNESCO Conference, May 2005,)

Spatial Tools to Analyze the Impact of Land Markets on Affordability and Urban Spatial Structures

(World Bank, Washington DC , Feb 2008)

Urban Spatial Structures and City Planning
Comparative Urban Structures
Asian Cities
African Cities
European Cities
North, Central and South American Cities
Land Use and Financial Models - AKA Bertaud Model

Graphic Panel

Spatial Distribution of Population in Jakarta and London (represented at the same scale; from 1990 census data)


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