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Books // Urbanism Essentials

1. Jacobs, Jane // 1961 // The death and life of great American cities
The Modern Library - LATER PRINTING edition (December 1, 1992)
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Abstract
A direct and fundamentally optimistic indictment of the short-sightedness and intellectual arrogance that has characterized much of urban planning in this century, The Death and Life of Great American Cities has, since its first publication in 1961, become the standard against which all endeavors in that field are measured. In prose of outstanding immediacy, Jane Jacobs writes about what makes streets safe or unsafe; about what constitutes a neighborhood, and what function it serves within the larger organism of the city; about why some neighborhoods remain impoverished while others regenerate themselves. She writes about the salutary role of funeral parlors and tenement windows, the dangers of too much development money and too little diversity. Compassionate, bracingly indignant, and always keenly detailed, Jane Jacobs's monumental work provides an essential framework for assessing the vitality of all cities.

2. Minton, Anna // 2012 // Ground Control: Fear and happiness in the twenty-first-century city
Penguin
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Abstract
Britain's streets have been transformed by the construction of new property - but it's owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV. Have these gleaming business districts, mega malls and gated developments led to 'regeneration', or have they instensified social divisions and made us more fearful of each other? Anna Minton's acclaimed and passionate polemic, now exploring the policies of the new goevernment and London's controversial Olympic Part, shows us the face of Britain today. It reveals the untested - and unwanted - urban planning that is changing not only our cities, but the nature of public space, of citizenship and of trust.

3. Sennett, Richard // 1977 // The Fall of the Public Man
Penguin; New Ed edition (30 Jan 2003)
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Abstract
“Public” life once meant that vital part one’s life outside the circle of family and close friends. Connecting with strangers in an emotionally satisfying way and yet remaining aloof from them was seen as the means by which the human animal was transformed into the social – the civilized – being. And the fullest flowering of that public life was realized in the 18th Century in the great capital cities of Europe.
Sennett shows how our lives today are bereft of the pleasures and reinforcements of this lost interchange with fellow citizens. He shows how, today, the stranger is a threatening figure; how silence and observation have become the only ways to experience public life, especially street life, without feeling overwhelmed ; how each person believes in the right, in public, to be left alone. And he makes clear how, because of the change in public life, private life becomes distorted as we of necessity focus more and more on ourselves, on increasingly narcissistic forms of intimacy and self-absorption. Because of this, our personalities cannot fully develop: we lack much of the ease, the spirit of play, the kind of discretion that would allow us real and pleasurable relationships with those whom we may never know intimately.

4. Tuan, Yi-Fu // 1977 // Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience
Edward Arnold - LATER PRINTING edition University Of Minnesota Press (February 8, 2001)
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Abstract
In the twenty years since its original publication, Space and Place has not only established the discipline of human geography, but it has proven influential in such diverse fields as theatre, literature, anthropology, psychology, and theology. Eminent geographer Yi-Fu Tuan considers the ways in which people feel and think about space, how they form attachments to home, neighborhood, and nation, and how feelings about space and place are affected by the sense of time. He suggests that place is security and space is freedom: we are attached to the one and long for the other. Whether he is considering sacred versus "biased" space, mythical space and place, time in experiential space, or cultural attachments to space, Tuan's analysis is thoughtful and insightful throughout.
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