Urban Design has always been part art, part science. The only essential ingredient for astounding outcomes is a deep understanding of the people that live and breathe our urban environments.
Thankfully all over the world people expend a vast amount of energy thinking about ways to improve how we build better communities to improve our lives. Some of them write books about it.
Here is our list of must-reads for every urban developer in Australia today.
Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design (2013) - Charles Montgomery.
Described by Davis Suzuki as a "a brilliant, entertaining and vital book", Happy City draws from psychology, neuroscience and the authors own urban experiments to better understand and improve communities.
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 tower dwelling an improvement on the car-dependence of sprawl?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.
Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design With Nature (2007) - Douglas Farr
A few years old now but still providing some ground breaking ideas. Written by the chair of the LEED-Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) initiative, Sustainable Urbanism: Urban Design with Nature is both a call to action and a comprehensive introduction to "sustainable urbanism"--the emerging and growing design reform movement that combines the creation and enhancement of walkable and diverse places with the need to build high-performance infrastructure and buildings.
Providing a historic perspective on the standards and regulations that got us to where we are today in terms of urban lifestyle and attempts at reform, Douglas Farr makes a powerful case for sustainable urbanism, showing where we went wrong, and where we need to go. He then explains how to implement sustainable urbanism through leadership and communication in cities, communities, and neighborhoods.
A History of Future Cities (2013) - Daniel Brook
A pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.
Every month, five million people move from the past to the future. Pouring into developing-world “instant cities” like Dubai and Shenzhen, these urban newcomers confront a modern world cobbled together from fragments of a West they have never seen. Do these fantastical boomtowns, where blueprints spring to life overnight on virgin land, represent the dawning of a brave new world? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?In a captivating blend of history and reportage, Daniel Brook travels to a series of major metropolitan hubs that were once themselves instant cities— St. Petersburg, Shanghai, and Mumbai—to watch their “dress rehearsals for the twenty-first century.” Understanding today’s emerging global order, he argues, requires comprehending the West’s profound and conflicted influence on developing-world cities over the centuries.
The Planning Game: Lessons from Great Cities (2013) - Alexander Garvin
The Planning Game: Lessons from Great Cities provides a focused, thorough, and sophisticated overview of how planning works, generously illustrated with 200 colorful photographs, diagrams, and maps created expressly for the book. It presents the public realm approach to planning—an approach that emphasizes the importance of public investments in what we own: streets, squares, parks, infrastructure, and public buildings.
They are the fundamental elements in any community and are the way to determine our future. The book covers planning at every level, explaining the activities that go into successfully transforming a community as exemplified by four cities and their colorful motive forces: Paris (Baron Georges-Eugene Haussmann), New York (Robert Moses), Chicago (Daniel Burnham), and Philadelphia (Edmund Bacon). The Planning Game is an invaluable resource for planners, students, community leaders, and everybody involved with making better places to live.