In September 2017 I wrote a blog post reviewing seven placemaking books that I thought deserved a place on The Placemaker’s Bookshelf.
You can see the original post here and the seven books featured in it are:
1. The Death and Life of Great American Cities – Jane Jacobs (1961)
2. Happy City: Transforming our Lives through Urban Design – Charles Montgomery (2013)
3. Tactical Urbanism: Short-term action for long-term change – Mike Lydon and Anthony Garcia (2015)
4. A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction – Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein (1977)
5. Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space – Jan Gehl (1971 (Danish), 1987 (first English translation), 2011 (new edition)
6. Cities for People – Jan Gehl (2010)
7. How to Study Public Life: Methods in Urban Design – Jan Gehl and Birgitte Svarre (2013)
Here are another 5 books that have come out since then that you might like to check out (and perhaps gift to the placemaker in your life – even if that’s you). In the next few months I hope to offer you more in depth reviews of each of the titles below. Items 3 and 4 are readily available from the Greater Victoria Public Library but I am having trouble tracking down 1 and 5 – if you have any leads let me know. Number 2 is available online to me as an employee of UVic through the UVic library.
1. How to Turn a Place Around: A Placemaking Handbook
Kathy Madden is one of the Co-founders of Project for Public Spaces (PPS) and has, since 1975 been “involved in all aspects of the organization’s work, directing over 300 research and urban design projects and training programs throughout the U.S and abroad. Until 2018, she also served as director of PPS’s Placemaking Training and Public Space Research and Publications programs” (from Project for Public Spaces). This is a re-issue of Madden’s book which was originally published in 2000.
2. Healthy Placemaking: Wellbeing Through Urban Design
I am anxious to try and get my hands on this one as it has a pretty scathing review online from Hugh Barton, whose biography lists “Emeritus Professor of planning, health and sustainability, author of City of Well-being (Routledge 2017), lead author of Shaping Neighbourhoods (Routledge 2010), and Healthy Urban Planning (WHO 2000).” London himself is an architect at JTP which is a firm with the tagline “architects masterplanners placemakers”. He “concentrates on sustainable approaches to development, resulting in his involvement with the EU ‘EcoCity’ initiative, bringing together model projects throughout Europe. This has led to over a decade of consultancy for the City of Tampere, Finland, and invitations to present his innovative ideas about Healthy Placemaking at WHO and UN conferences, focussing on how well-planned environments can encourage healthy lifestyles as well as slowing climate change” (from JTP architects masterplanners placemakers).
3. Home Sweet Neighborhood: Transforming Cities One Block at a Time
Local Victoria-based writer Michelle Mulder’s delightful book is a joy to read, not least because if you are a local you will recognize many of the places pictured as well as young people (including Michelle’s daughter) featured throughout. This is an easy read – suitable for placemakers of all ages – with lots of photo and fun ideas throughout.
4. Palaces for the People: How Social Infrastructure can Help Fight Inequality, Polarization, and the Decline of Civic Life
Where Michelle’s book is light this one is much less so. “Eric Klinenberg is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University.” In Palaces for the People, his most recent book, he argues that “the future of democratic societies rests not simply on shared values but on shared spaces: the libraries, childcare centers, bookstores, churches, synagogues, and parks where crucial, sometimes life-saving connections, are formed. Richly reported, elegantly written, and ultimately uplifting, Palaces for the People urges us to acknowledge the crucial role these spaces play in civic life. Our social infrastructure could be the key to bridging our seemingly unbridgeable divides—and safeguarding democracy”.
5. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
According to the folks at PPS “Whyte’s classic 1980 study of New York’s plazas started a mini-revolution in urban planning and design. Out of print for six years, PPS has acquired the rights and is thrilled to make this important book available again to the public”. There is also a highly regarded companion film.
Guest Author Bio
Susan Martin. Longtime resident of #YYJ who delights in exploring every corner and cul de sac of our beautiful city. Thinks that walking is one of the best medicines in existence and tries to get a dose of it each day. Keenly interested in how our built environment affects the health of individuals, neighbourhoods and societies.
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