This month’s Book Club takes a deeper look into cities – how do they really work? How can they be improved in the future?
On the lookout for your next read? Check out these recommendations:
1. Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design – Charles Montgomery
“Charles Montgomery's Happy City is revolutionising the way we think about urban life.
After decades of unchecked sprawl, more people than ever are moving back to the city. Dense urban living has been prescribed as a panacea for the environmental and resource crises of our time. But is it better or worse for our happiness? Are subways, sidewalks, and condo towers an improvement on the car dependence of the suburbs?
The award-winning journalist Charles Montgomery finds answers to such questions at the intersection between urban design and the emerging science of happiness, during an exhilarating journey through some of the world's most dynamic cities. He meets the visionary mayor who introduced a "sexy" bus to ease status anxiety in Bogotá; the architect who brought the lessons of medieval Tuscan hill towns to modern-day New York City; the activist who turned Paris's urban freeways into beaches; and an army of American suburbanites who have hacked the design of their own streets and neighborhoods.
Rich with new insights from psychology, neuroscience, and Montgomery's own urban experiments, Happy City reveals how cities can shape our thoughts as well as our behavior. The message is ultimately as surprising as it is hopeful: by retrofitting cities and our own lives for happiness, we can tackle the urgent challenges of our age. The happy city can save the world―and we can all help build it.”
2. Tactical Urbanism: Short-term Action for Long-term Change – Mike Lydon & Anthony Garcia
“In the twenty-first century, cities worldwide must respond to a growing and diverse population, ever-shifting economic conditions, new technologies, and a changing climate. Short-term, community-based projects—from pop-up parks to open streets initiatives—have become a powerful and adaptable new tool of urban activists, planners, and policy-makers seeking to drive lasting improvements in their cities and beyond. These quick, often low-cost, and creative projects are the essence of the Tactical Urbanism movement. Whether creating vibrant plazas seemingly overnight or re-imagining parking spaces as neighborhood gathering places, they offer a way to gain public and government support for investing in permanent projects, inspiring residents and civic leaders to experience and shape urban spaces in a new way.”
“America is an urban nation, yet cities get a bad rap: they're dirty, poor, unhealthy, environmentally unfriendly… or are they? In this revelatory book, Edward Glaeser, a leading urban economist, declares that cities are actually the healthiest, greenest, and richest (in both cultural and economic terms) places to live. He travels through history and around the globe to reveal the hidden workings of cities and how they bring out the best in humankind. Using intrepid reportage, keen analysis, and cogent argument, Glaeser makes an urgent, eloquent case for the city's importance and splendor, offering inspiring proof that the city is humanity's greatest creation and our best hope for the future.”