Why Cities Look The Way They Do by Richard J Williams

The Blurb On The Back:

We tend to think cities look the way they do because of the conscious work of architects, planners and builders.  But what if the look of cities had less to do with design, and more to do with social, cultural, financial and political processes, and the way ordinary citizens interact with them?  What if the city is a process as much as a design?  Richard J Williams takes the moment construction is finished as a beginning, tracing the myriad processes that produce the look of the contemporary global city.

This book is the story of dramatic but unforeseen urban sights: how financial capital spawns empty towering skyscrapers and hollowed-out ghettoes; how the zoning of once-illicit sexual practices in marginal areas of the city results in the reinvention of culturally vibrant gay villages; how abandoned factories have been repurposed as creative hubs in a precarious postindustrial economy.  It is also the story of how popular urban cliches and the fictional portrayal of cities powerfully shape the way we read and see the bricks, concrete and glass that surround us.

Thought-provoking and original, Why Cities Look The Way They Do will appeal to anyone who wants to understand the contemporary city, shedding new light on humanity’s greatest collective invention.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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Big Capital: Who’s London For? by Anna Minton

The Blurb On The Back:

Revealing exactly what is causing London’s housing crisis – and what can be done.

London is facing the worst housing crisis in modern times, with knock-on effects for the rest of the UK.  Despite the desperate shortage of housing, tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of affordable homes are being pulled down, replaced by luxury apartments aimed at foreign investors.  In this ideological war, only market solutions to housing – which is a public good – are considered, which paradoxically makes the situation worse, because the market responds to the needs of global capital rather than ordinary people needing homes to live in.  In politically uncertain times, the housing crisis has become a key driver creating and fuelling the inequalities of a divided nation.  Anna Minto cuts through the complexities, jargon and spin to give a clear-sighted account of how we got into this mess and how we can get out of it.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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