Week 7 wrap-up: Diversity’s myths and its self-destruction

Blog round-up

  • Andy Boenau (Virginia, USA) continues to add photos illustrating Death and Life to his Flickr set
  • Upper Toronto (Toronto, Canada) comments on Chapter 10, The need for aged buildings: Life in complete environments

    We cannot entirely dismiss the possibility for the success of a completely new built environment, but we must consider who will pay the price of development, and, more interestingly, how a real estate market might develop out of thin air.

  • The Walking Bostonian (Boston, USA) on The need for aged buildings

    Some [planning] documents carefully sketch out expected flows of people through painstakingly landscaped and architecturally intriguing corridors; replete with ground-level commerce and sidewalk cafes. It all looks quite wonderful on paper. … But none of them include old buildings, and therefore, none of the economic diversity that can only exist with low overhead.

  • City Love (Brisbane, Australia) sketches a city style lookbook and urban weeds for Chapter 12

    City Love on Urban Weeds

Recommendations on diversity’s myths and self-destruction from the Toronto Public Library

The Toronto Reference Library at 789 Yonge St. now houses the collection of the Urban Affairs Library, formerly located at Metro Hall. As a specialized collection devoted to all aspects of urban planning and local government, the library contains far more than the materials cited here. Titles were selected by librarian Cynthia Fisher to give you an overview of some new and some old books and reports that you can find at the library to complement (and perhaps contradict) some of Jane Jacobs’ views. When viewing the catalogue records for the books, click on some of the subject headings to give you a broader range of materials.

Environmental diversity in architecture

Steane and Steemers, both from the Cambridge department of architecture, collected these essays to establish a range of useful definitions of environmental diversity and to explore its role in ordering and enriching architectural experience. Beginning with an overview of environmental diversity, the subsequent sections cover the framework of the concept, urban architecture, interiors and design. Individual essays address social, architectural and environmental convergence, outdoor comfort, daylight perception, and climate.

A place in mind : the search for authenticity

This is the result of Friedman’s worldwide quest for successful environments where people congregate and feel comfortable. Whether he writes of the conviviality of a teahouse in Istanbul; the public art of Nunavut’s capital, Iqaluit; the serenity of Assisi; or the architectural harmony of neighbourhoods in London and Amsterdam, Avi Friedman conveys his excitement at discovering people-friendly places-antidotes to social isolation.

Searching for good places-authentic places-and wondering about the disappearance of others, are at the heart of A Place in Mind, as the author reflects on the design of markets, the evolution of building methods, the need for historic preservation, the relationship between cities and suburbs and the unraveling of human relations in North America. In each instance, the question is asked: why do these places work?

The architecture of community

Krier is one of the best-known—and most provocative—architects and urban theoreticians in the world. Until now, however, his ideas have circulated mostly among a professional audience of architects, city planners, and academics. He refines and updates his thinking on the making of sustainable, humane, and attractive villages, towns, and cities. The book includes drawings, diagrams, and photographs of his built works, which have not been widely seen until now.

A new theory of urban design

The venerable cities of the past, such as Venice or Amsterdam, convey a feeling of wholeness, an organic unity that surfaces in every detail, large and small, in restaurants, shops, public gardens, even in balconies and ornaments. But this sense of wholeness is lacking in modern urban design, with architects absorbed in problems of individual structures, and city planners preoccupied with local ordinances, it is almost impossible to achieve.

In a highly-acclaimed series by the Center for Environmental Structure, architect and planner Christopher Alexander presents a new theory of urban design which attempts to recapture the process by which cities develop organically. A New Theory of Urban Design provides an entirely new theoretical framework for the discussion of urban problems, one that goes far to remedy the defects which cities have today.

3 titles by George Baird:

George Baird

George Baird (B.Arch., AM (Hon.), OAA, FRAIC, AIA) was born and grew up in Toronto. He has been active in architecture, urban design and heritage preservation in Toronto, across Canada, and abroad since that time. A principal author of the pioneering 1974 urban design study On building downtown, he acted also as a key advisor to Toronto’s St. Lawrence Neighbourhood site planning team, strongly recommending both the extension of the street grid of the original city, and the creation of what is now known as Esplanade Park. In the fall of 2005, George was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto. Learn more about George Baird in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Poverty street : the dynamics of neighbourhood decline and renewal

This book shows an example of regeneration and where success may ruin the neighbourhood in the decade to come.

Addresses one of the UK’s major social policy concerns: the poverty gap between the worst neighborhoods and the rest of the country. It is an account of neighborhood decline, a portrait of conditions in the poorest areas and an up-to-date analysis of the impact of the British government’s neighborhood renewal policies.

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