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Good Cities, Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism (Planning, History and Environment Series) [Paperback]

Peter Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

12 Sep 2013 Planning, History and Environment Series

This book has one central theme: how, in the United Kingdom, can we create better cities and towns in which to live and work and play? What can we learn from other countries, especially our near neighbours in Europe? And, in turn, can we provide lessons for other countries facing similar dilemmas?

Urban Britain is not functioning as it should. Social inequalities and regional disparities show little sign of going away. Efforts to generate growth, and spread it to the poorer areas of cities, have failed dismally. Much new urban development and redevelopment is not up to standard. Yet there are cities in mainland Europe, which have set new standards of high-quality sustainable urban development. This book looks at these best-practice examples – in Germany, the Netherlands, France and Scandinavia, – and suggests ways in which the UK and other countries could do the same.

The book is in three parts. Part 1 analyses the main issues for urban planning and development – in economic development and job generation, sustainable development, housing policy, transport and development mechanisms – and probes how practice in the UK has fallen short.

Part Two embarks on a tour of best-practice cities in Europe, starting in Germany with the country’s boosting of its cities’ economies, moving to the spectacularly successful new housing developments in the Netherlands, from there to France’s integrated city transport, then to Scandinavia’s pursuit of sustainability for its cities, and finally back to Germany, to Freiburg – the city that ‘did it all’.

Part Three sums up the lessons of Part Two and sets out the key steps needed to launch a new wave of urban development and regeneration on a radically different basis.

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Good Cities, Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism (Planning, History and Environment Series) + Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design + How to Study Public Life: Methods in Urban Design
Price For All Three: £64.92

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Product details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge (12 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415840228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415840224
  • Product Dimensions: 24.4 x 17.3 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 156,526 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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[It] is already the book everyone is talking about as we see our cities’ planning departments decimated around us. It is a beacon of what is possible and gives hope.  - Times Higher Education - Best books of 2013

An acute analysis - Lord Andrew Adonis, Financial Times

If you have ever wondered what a Catapult is or how it connects to the rest of the UK economy and political system, then this is the book for you. The writing is admirable and rich in human interest, with tales of multitasking French mayors, scandalous research disagreements and Scandi-noir all contributing to the integrity of the whole. - Flora Samuel, Times Higher Education

Hall has a clear idea of what the planning discipline should be about: it should be grounded in an understanding of the real world; it should be informed by a deep knowledge of history and a sense of cultural possibility; and, above all, it should remain focused on improving lives. He is himself the consummate planner. - Ben Rogers, The Guardian

"As usual, a book by Peter Hall takes a historic view, and is filled with erudite gems and facts. No doubt this self-designated city travelogue is addressed to urban designers."Judith Ryser, Researcher, Journalist, Writer and Urban Affairs Consultant to Fundacion Metropoli, Madrid

About the Author

Sir Peter Hall is Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at University College London, and President of both the Town and Country Planning Association and the Regional Studies Association. He has produced over fifty books in his career and is internationally renowned for his studies on all aspects of cities and regions.  

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important work 13 Nov 2013
By Tony
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I loved this book because it gives a sense of what can be achieved by the best urban planning and regeneration practice in continental Europe. It has the authority and depth of analysis that one would expect from Sir Peter Hall, who has been writing about regeneration for fifty years and is widely regarded as the world's leading scholar in the field.

It is nonetheless painful to read about how far behind we are in the UK, and Sir Peter recounts the experiences of UK study groups going to places like Stockholm, Malmo and Freiburg. British urban planners swing between joy at what they see and dejection, because these kinds of regeneration projects are just not happening in the UK.

Implicit within the book are two, entirely sensible, contentions: power must be devolved down, mainly to city-regional polities, and the UK has erred by almost always allowing projects to be developer-led. Time and again, Sir Peter points out that the most admirable projects were the result of strong local leadership, which meant that developers were only allowed in after a clear framework had been established by municipal leaders. It doesn't mean that there wasn't give and take between different parties, often including future residents, thereafter - just that the developers' profit margins did not trump all other concerns.

It is hard to grumble about this much-needed work. I would have been interested to know more about whether Sir Peter actually liked the look of some of the newly-built properties in places like Stockholm and Malmo. Often he restricts himself to lauding the fact that they have exceptional environmental standards and that there is a lot of variety within the developments. He is right that some parts of Hammarby Sjostad in Stockholm can feel a little claustrophobic.
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