We humans quite possibly came from jungles, descending from the canopy millions of years ago. Today billions of us still inhabit jungles – concrete ones. Our five Ultimate Library selections this week take you on a journey into the multilayered urban landscapes we’ve created – from imagining utopian future cities to seasonal musings in four celebrated capitals to a fascinating history of the world’s great metropolises. Best enjoyed in a hammock on a beach perhaps!
1. The Ideal City: Exploring Urban Futures by Gestalten and Space10
The city is an always changing human experiment. But in the last half century, it has changed more than ever before with little sign of slowing down. As thisphenomenon takes place, an increasing number of architects, innovators andpolicymakers are rethinking the city to make the most of space and resources.The Ideal City chronicles the design of urban futures and explores the manyinitiatives and experiments, all with the shared goal of making the cities oftomorrow a happier, healthier and more inclusive place to be.
2. Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom
New York Times travel columnist Stephanie Rosenbloom travels alone in fourseasons to four remarkable cities – Paris, Istanbul, Florence, and New York -exploring the sensory experience of solitude. This is a book about the pleasuresand benefits of savouring the moment, examining things closely, and using all yoursenses to take in your surroundings, whether travelling to faraway places orwalking the streets of your own city.
3. Unbuilt: Radical Visions of a Future that Never Arrived by Christopher Beanland
Unbuilt tells the stories of the plans, drawings and proposals that emergedduring the 20th century in an unparalleled era of optimism in architecture.Many of these grand projects stayed on the drawing board, some were flightsof fancy that couldn’t be built, and in other cases test structures or parts ofbuildings did emerge in the real world. Many ideas were just ahead of theirtime, and some, thankfully, we were always better without.
4. Imagine a City by Mark Vanhoenacker
As a commercial airline pilot, Mark Vanhoenacker visits hundreds of cities allaround the globe. His short visits of only 24-72 hours gives him a uniqueperspective on what makes a city a city. In this hybrid work of travelogue andmemoir, Vanhoenacker celebrates the cities he has come to know over the years,from Pittsburgh to Cape Town. Through chapters that explore individual facets ofcity identity-their geography, their climate, their weather-he shows us with fresheyes the man-made wonders that billions of us call home.
5. Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankind’s Greatest Invention by Ben Wilson
The story of the city is the story of civilisation. From Uruk and Babylon to Baghdad
and Venice, and on to London, New York, Shanghai and Lagos, Ben Wilson takes usthrough millennia on a thrilling global tour of the key urban centres of history. Richwith individual characters, scenes and snapshots of daily life, Metropolis is at oncethe story of these extraordinary places and of the vital role they have played inmaking us who we are.