Cities Are Good For You

Leo Hollis

Cities Are Good For You

The 21st century will be the age of the city. Already over 50% of the world population live in urban centres and over the coming decades this percentage will increase - with consequences for us all. But this does not mean that things will only get worse. In fact our urban future might just be something to look forward to. Blending anecdote, fact and first hand encounters - from exploring the slums of Mumbai, to visiting roof-top farms in Brooklyn and attending secret dinner parties in Paris, to riding the bus in Latin America - Leo Hollis reveals that we have misunderstood how cities work for too long. Upending long-held assumptions and challenging accepted wisdom, he explores: why cities can never be rational, organised places; how we can walk in a crowd without bumping into people, and if we can design places that make people want to kiss; whether we have the right solution to the problem of the slums; how ants, slime mould and traffic jams can make us rethink congestion. And above all, the unexpected reasons why living in the city can make us fitter, richer, smarter, greener, more creative - and, perhaps, even happier. 2.8 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Cities Are Good For You

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Art, Architecture & Photography, Society, Politics & Philosophy
Format
Pages
RRP
Date of Publication April 2013
ISBN 978-1408826621
Publisher Bloomsbury
 

The 21st century will be the age of the city. Already over 50% of the world population live in urban centres and over the coming decades this percentage will increase - with consequences for us all. But this does not mean that things will only get worse. In fact our urban future might just be something to look forward to. Blending anecdote, fact and first hand encounters - from exploring the slums of Mumbai, to visiting roof-top farms in Brooklyn and attending secret dinner parties in Paris, to riding the bus in Latin America - Leo Hollis reveals that we have misunderstood how cities work for too long. Upending long-held assumptions and challenging accepted wisdom, he explores: why cities can never be rational, organised places; how we can walk in a crowd without bumping into people, and if we can design places that make people want to kiss; whether we have the right solution to the problem of the slums; how ants, slime mould and traffic jams can make us rethink congestion. And above all, the unexpected reasons why living in the city can make us fitter, richer, smarter, greener, more creative - and, perhaps, even happier.

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Reviews

The Times

Tom Chesshyre

He is particularly critical of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier ... Cities Are Good For You is an intriguing book with a clutter of ideas, but behind them is Hollis’s positive belief that “the complexity of the city offers more chances of making connections than anywhere else”. Living in a city, loneliness is less likely, he argues, and if the world is increasingly going to live in them, it makes sense to think about them more.

08/04/2013

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The Financial Times

Ed Hammond

Hollis addresses his reader as though trying to enlighten an overzealous planning officer ... Sections of the book can be rather heavy going. There are, though, some fascinating and thoroughly researched passages. Hollis’ eludication on the garden city movement is a beautifully crafted study of the purpose-built, self-sufficient towns that sprung up in the 20th century as a riposte to unchecked urban sprawl.

05/05/2013

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The Observer

Ben East

Everywhere from the slums of Dharavi, Mumbai, to the streets of famous urban thinker Jane Jacobs's Greenwich Village, says Hollis, it's the city's inhabitants and complexity that encourage healthy street life, not its politicians. A lovely thought, but the book becomes more and more one-sided as Hollis warms to his argument. So not only are riots a reminder that usually the city is largely peaceful, but Dharavi is a place of opportunity and ingenuity, and the metropolis's teeming mass of humanity is a place for connection rather than alienation.

04/05/2013

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Scotland on Sunday

Alice Wyllie

Hollis’s choice of title is a little clunky and his attempts to prove his point sometimes strained. Are cities good for us? They can be, for those of us with access to buzzy, artsy projects such as the High Line park. But the reality of urban centres for many millions across the world can be loneliness, isolation, polarisation and extreme poverty.

05/05/2013

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The Independent

Joy Lo Dico

What works in one place doesn't in another ... What Hollis is looking for is some magic formula that makes a successful city … But answers aren't easy to come by ... The other problem is that the examples Hollis uses are tired, having already been examined countless times by other writers. I sighed as I turned the page to read yet again about the curious success of the Mumbai slum of Dharavi.

27/04/2013

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