Good Cities, Better Lives
How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism
By Peter Hall
Contributors: Nicholas Falk
Routledge – 2014 – 356 pages
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.
[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
Building the New Jerusalem: Five Challenges for Cities Part 1: Facing the Challenges 1. The First Challenge: Rebalancing Our Urban Economies 2. The Second Challenge: Building New HomesNot Enough New Homes 3. The Third Challenge: Linking People and PlacesLondon: From Classic Public Transport Metropolis to Mega-City Region 4. The Fourth Challenge: Living with Finite Resources 5. The Fifth Challenge: Fixing Broken Machinery Part 2: Learning From Model Cities: A Twenty-First-Century Grand Tour 6. Going on Tour 7. Boosting Economic Growth in Germany 8. Building Sustainable Suburbs in the Netherlands 9. France Uses Transport to Develop and Regenerate Cities 10. Conserving Resources in Scandinavia: Stockholm and Copenhagen–MalmöStockholm’s Planned Satellite Towns 11. Freiburg: The City That Did It All Part 3: Lessons from Europe 12. Learning the Lessons
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.