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Shaping London: The Patterns and Forms That Make the Metropolis Hardcover – 28 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons; 1 edition (28 Oct 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470699965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470699966
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 2.3 x 26.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 337,282 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


‘…Farrell brings his skill and imagination to bear on proposals for making London a better city for humans.’ (Property Week, July 2010).

From the Back Cover

In this wholly new and dynamic view of London, renowned architect and urban planner Sir Terry Farrell joins up the dots and creates new connections between London′s past, present and future. By looking beyond the contribution of individual buildings to the city, Farrell creates a much larger and more exciting canvas, charting how the capital′s messy and complex shape has evolved over time from a series of layers – natural and man–made. This provides a whole series of revelations that allow us to see the city afresh: How might the natural bends in the river have impacted where and what was built? How have the Thames′ tributaries affected historic boundaries and development, played out in the Great Estates of Mayfair and Marylebone? How has the 19th century′s seemingly unplanned and opportunistic infrastructure of railway stations, canals, tube lines and sewers formed the basis for a new kind of metropolis with its own order and its won form? Illustrated with maps, archive photographs and paintings, as well as original sketches by Farrell, the book provides a vibrant and intriguing collage of London′s patterns and its history. It gives an account that stretches from the verdant banks of the Thames at Richmond and Kew to London Docklands and the heavily industrialised Thames Estuary, taking in some of London′s best known landmarks and sights. it also suggests ways of observing and learning from London today that are key to understanding how the capital might grow and change in the future. ′The most important and inspirational London book of the decade. it offers a physical description of the city that is both a perceptive analysis of its past and a vision for the future.′ – Dan Cruickshank ′Rare among today′s architects and planners, Terry Farrell really understands the texture of London. His eye misses nothing, from kerbstones, traffic Islands, walls and trees to a realistic vision of the city as a whole.′ – Simon Jenkins ′Terry Farrell has produced a first–class combination of historical insight, geographical observation and infrastructure analysis – the distilled thoughts of a true urbanist. Essential reading for anyone engaged in adding to London′s built environment, and a wonderfully illustrated story for more general readers.′ – Paul Finch, Chair, Commission for Architecture and the Build Environment (CABE)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By M. Harrison on 29 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
Shaping London is the most original and illuminating book on London that I have ever read. It peels away the city's layers to reveal how London became the world's first metropolis and how its history provides the key both to understanding its infrastructual problems and to its prospective solutions. Along the way it is peppered with incredibly illuminating anecdotes and excellent illustrations, including some of Terry Farrell's own projects. Farrell may be well-known as one of Britain's greatest architects and urban-planners, but he also reveals himself to be a highly intelligent and warm writer, who is obviously deeply in love with London, warts and all.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Paul Randall on 4 Jan 2010
Format: Hardcover
Excellent book; no pretentious arty waffle, just a logical presentation of the patterns of land use as our our great capital city has evolved - sometimes not for the better. The opportunities for the future. This was my Christmas present to myself; I chose well.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful By jrhartley on 7 Dec 2009
Format: Hardcover
This ambitious portrait of London has the best aspirations, but does not seem to know if it is trying to be a chatty historical run through of some of the city's highlights, or to provide a more focused, diagrammatic approach to understanding the capital. The selective historical account lacks a clear structure, so, on balance, it falls more into an informal, subjective view of the city. This can become frustrating when the author takes time to mention minutiae like the eggs atop the GMTV tower, whilst completely omitting major historical events that have contributed to London's patina.

The way in which the book falls between two stools may be, in part, due to its formatting - there are some interesting Farrell sketches and diagrams, some not-so-good stock photos of London, and a few too many images of Farrell projects which have little or nothing to do with London (Inchon Airport, Korea; Beijing South Station...). From the sleeve image, I had been hoping that they layers of London's rich history would have been exposed in a Rem Koolhaas / OMA style, with clever use of diagrams and graphics, and a total avoidance of wandering prose. Regrettably, the untrimmed text picks its way uncomfortably around this cacophony of images on the page, to which no attempt at colour matching or sympathetic layout appears to have been given. As a reader, you are left unsure whether the book should be treated as a serious text or something you would leave in the guest WC of your Chelsea flat for your visitors from out of town to peruse.

Throughout the book, Farrell reiterates the beauty and charm of London lies in its eclecticism, heterogeneity and organic development; so perhaps the clumsy formatting may have been intentional, a way of mirroring the city's absence of top-down planning? Overall - a good intention, not executed rigorously enough.
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