The City Is Here For You To Use: (very) provisional bibliography

A week or so back, a bright guy I met at PICNIC named Lincoln Schatz asked me if I mightn’t list for him a few things I’d been reading lately. I got about halfway through before I realized that I was really compiling a manifest of books I’d been consulting as I put together the pieces of my own.

So this is for you, Lincoln – but I bet it’d also be particularly valuable for readers who are coming at issues of networked urbanism from the information-technological side, and would like a better grounding in sociological, psychological, political and architectural thinking on these topics. (There’s also a pretty heavy overlap here with the curriculum Kevin Slavin and I built our ITP “Urban Computing” class around.)

Not all of these were equally useful, mind you. Some of the titles on the following list are perennial favorites of mine, or works I otherwise regard as essential; some are badly dated, and one or two are outright wank. But they’ve all contributed in some wise to my understanding of networked place and the possibilities it presents for the people who inhabit it.

Two caveats: first, this is very far from a comprehensive list, and secondly, you should know that I’ve provided the titles with Amazon referral links, so I make a few pennies if you should happen to click through and buy anything (for which I thank you). At any rate, I hope you find it useful.

UPDATE 19 October 20.49 EEDT
Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions. Please do bear in mind that, as I noted, this is not a comprehensive list of interesting urbanist books, but an attempt to account specifically for those works that have been influential on my own thinking. With a very few exceptions, I’m no longer looking for new insights, but for ways to consolidate and express those deriving from my encounter with the works listed.

That said, I’ll continue to update the page as I either remember titles that ought to have been included in the first place, or in fact do assimilate new points of view.

- Alexander, Christopher, et al.: A Pattern Language
– Ascher, Kate: The Works: Anatomy of a City
– Augé, Marc: Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity
– Aymonino, Aldo and Valerio Paolo Mosco: Contemporary Public Space/Un-Volumetric Architecture
– BAVO, eds.: Urban Politics Now: Re-Imagining Democracy in the Neoliberal City
– Bachelard, Gaston: The Poetics of Space
– Baines, Phil and Catherine Dixon: Signs: Lettering in the Environment
– Banham, Reyner: The Architecture of the Well-Tempered Environment
– Benjamin, Walter: Selections from The Arcades Project
– Benkler, Yochai: The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
– Borden, Iain: Skateboarding, Space and the City
– Brand, Stewart: How Buildings Learn
– Canetti, Elias: Crowds and Power
– Careri, Francesco: Walkscapes: Walking as an Aesthetic Practice
– Carter, Paul: Repressed Spaces
– Crawford, J.H.: Carfree Cities
– Davis, Mike: Planet of Slums
– De Cauter, Lieven: The Capsular Civilization
– De Certeau, Michel: Chapter VII, “Walking in the City,” from The Practice of Everyday Life
– DeLanda, Manuel: Part I, “Lavas and Magmas,” from A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History
– Design Trust For Public Space: Taxi 07: Roads Forward
– Di Cicco, Pier Giorgio: Municipal Mind: Manifestos for the Creative City
– Dourish, Paul: Where The Action Is
– Flusty, Steven: Building Paranoia
– Fruin, John J.: Pedestrian Planning and Design
– Gehl, Jan: Life Between Buildings: Using Public Space
– Goffman, Erving:
Behavior in Public Places
Interaction Ritual
– Graham, Stephen and Simon Marvin: Splintering Urbanism
– Greenfield, Adam (that’s me!): Everyware: The Dawning Age of Ubiquitous Computing
– Hall, Edward T.: The Hidden Dimension
– Hammett, Jerilou and Kingsley, eds.: The Suburbanization of New York
– Hara, Kenya: Designing Design
– Hardt, Michael and Antonio Negri: Empire
– Haydn, Florian and Robert Temel, eds.: Temporary Urban Spaces
– Holl, Steven, Juhani Pallasmaa and Alberto Pérez-Gómez: Questions of Perception
– Hughes, Jonathan and Simon Sadler, eds.: Non-Plan
– Ito, Mizuko, Daisuke Okabe, and Ken Anderson: “Portable Objects in Three Global Cities: The Personalization of Urban Places
– Iwamoto, Lisa: Digital Fabrications
– Jacobs, Jane: The Death and Life of Great American Cities
– Kaijima, Momoyo, Junzo Koroda and Yoshiharu Tsukamoto: Made in Tokyo
– Kay, Alan: “User Interface: A Personal View,” in The art of human-computer interface design (Laurel, ed.)
– Kayden, Jerold S.: Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience
– Kieran, Stephen and James Timberlake: Refabricating Architecture
– Klingmann, Anna: Brandscapes: Architecture in the Experience Economy
– Klooster, Thorsten, ed.: Smart Surfaces and their Application in Architecture and Design
– Latour, Bruno:
Aramis, or: The Love of Technology
Reassembling the Social
– Lefebvre, Henri: The Production of Space
– Lynch, Kevin: The Image Of The City
– McCullough, Malcolm: Digital Ground
– Mollerup, Per: Wayshowing: A Guide to Environmental Signage Principles and Practices
– Miller, Kristine F.: Designs on the Public
– Mitchell, William J.:
City of Bits
Me++: The Cyborg Self and the Networked City
– Moran, Joe: Reading the Everyday
– Mumford, Lewis: The City In History
– MVRDV: Metacity/Datatown
– Neuwirth, Robert: Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World
– Nold, Christian, ed.: Emotional Cartography: Technologies of the Self
– O’Hara, Kenton, et al., eds.: Public and Situated Displays: Social and Interactional Aspects of Shared Display Technologies
– Oldenburg, Ray: The Great Good Place
– Qiu, Jack Linchuan: Working Class Network Society
– Raban, Jonathan: Soft City
– RAMTV: Negotiate My Boundary
– Rheingold, Howard: Smart Mobs
– Rudofsky, Bernard: Streets for People
– Sadler, Simon: Archigram: Architecture without Architecture
– Sante, Luc: Low Life
– Sennett, Richard: The Uses of Disorder
– Senseable City Lab: New York Talk Exchange
– Solnit, Rebecca: Wanderlust: A History Of Walking
– Suchman, Lucy: Plans and Situated Actions
– Tuan, Yi-Fu: Space and Place
– Varnelis, Kazys, ed.: The Infrastructural City
– Wall, Alex: Victor Gruen: From Urban Shop to New City
– Waldheim, Charles, ed.: The Landscape Urbanism Reader
– Watkins, Susan M.: Clothing: The Portable Environment
– Whitely, Nigel: Reyner Banham: Historian of the Immediate Future
– Whyte, William H.: The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces
– Wood, Denis and Robert J. Beck: Home Rules
– Zardini, Mirko, ed.: Sense Of The City: An Alternate Approach to Urbanism

30 responses to “The City Is Here For You To Use: (very) provisional bibliography”

  1. Rahul Sen says :

    Yummy list, thanks Adam! Gonna get busy with my next pay-cheque! So many will refresh my thoughts at architecture school… :-)

  2. John Hagel says :

    Great list, but curious why you did not mention any of Richard Florida’s or Edward Glaeser’s work – deliberate or oversight?

    • AG says :

      I don’t know Glaeser. Florida’s “work” is worthless.

      I should clarify: I think his thesis is paper-thin, he keeps fudging his definition of “creative class” so that it fits whatever point he’s currently trying to make, and it’s unclear to me that in the first place there is any meaningful grouping in the world that correlates in any significant way with the class he claims to have identified. Furthermore, he’s a one-trick pony.

      Don’t get me wrong: of course I think cities should strive to make themselves gay-friendly and have lots of bike lanes and all that. I think you could even argue that there’s a nontrivial correlation between those sorts of thing and the desirability of a region and therefore its macro competitiveness. But I don’t think Florida’s writing demonstrates that.

    • Anthony Townsend says :

      Florida also says nothing about waht to do once you attract a “Creative class”. I guess they just spontaneous create.

    • AG says :

      I assume you mean this Edward Glaeser?

      “The problem is that – through a sorry mix of omission, oversimplification, distortion, and deficiency – his calculations bear no relation to the effects he is claiming to consider.”

      I think we have an answer. : . )

  3. Gene says :

    Gawd, does my remedial reading list never end?

  4. Matthew says :

    Adam, this is a fantastic list. Thank you for sharing.

  5. JM says :

    And so several titles added to the never-ending wish list…

    Any clue as to the ones that are ‘wank’ ? ;-)

    I’d also have to agree with your thoughts on Florida – a paragraph by Varnelis is far more filling than any of the long essays of his I’ve read.

  6. Greg J. Smith says :

    Selections from “The Arcades Project”?? Selections? I thought the point of delving into that project was reading the entire corpus…

    The next thing you’ll be telling us is that we don’t need to read every single node on Everyblock to *get* the project.

    ;)

    Great list!

    Lefebvre’s “The Urban Revolution” is a short and accessible counterpoint to “The Production of Space” – it may be worthy of adding to the list.

  7. Sid says :

    Great list- many thanks! Perhaps works by Gordon Pask, John Frazer (Groningen Experiment, Evolutionary Architecture) might fit here?

    In any case, this is definitely unfolding in parallel terrains to my just-started PhD; guess this reading list will keep me busy the next few months..

  8. nicolas says :

    I would add “Paris Ville Invisible” by Bruno Latour and Emilie Hermant. It’s spot on urban traces and, although the book is in french, there is an english translation on PDF

    • AG says :

      Tasty! Noted, thanks.

      LATER: Wow, this is great stuff. I probably like it even better than Aramis, and that’s saying quite a lot. Doublethanks!

  9. Tao says :

    None by Peter Hall?

    • AG says :

      Don’t know him. You might could recommend a title, and why you think it’d be relevant.

    • Jose Luis de Vicente says :

      For anyone interested on this list, Simon Sadler’s previous book on the Situacionist City is also worth a look. Also any Yona Friedman monography.

      A surprising omission is no Anthony Dunne’s “Hertzian Tales”?

  10. Joe Lamantia says :

    Bachelard… very nice!

    And it really is ‘poetic’, which is a welcome counterweight to the heady (but good) material that’s considered canon.

  11. Larry Irons says :

    Beatriz Colomina Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture as Mass Media MIT Press 1994

    Z. Celik, D. FAvro, and R. Ingersoll (eds) Streets: Critical Perspectives on Public Space Univ. of Calif. Press. 1994.

  12. Anil Bawa-Cavia says :

    Excellent list with a number of books I still haven’t read. A couple of interesting omissions I thought I’d point out. First of all, two of the best round-ups of modern urban theory in print:

    Peter Hall, Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning & Design in the Twentieth Century (2002)

    Edward W. Soja, Postmetropolis: Critical Studies of Cities and Regions (2000)

    You curiously miss Castells (perhaps there’s a reason for this?). Given your subject matter I find that quite strange,

    Manuel Castells, The Urban Question (1979), The Informational City (1989)

    Lastly, this book on ‘space syntax’ marked the birth of spatial analysis of cities:

    Bill Hillier, Julienne Hanson, The Social Logic of Space (1989)

    • AG says :

      Anil, both Castells and Saskia Sassen are absent from my bibliography because I simply don’t use their work. That is to say that the understanding of “network” that appears (differently) in their work depicts something of a scale and level of abstraction that in my view causes people to disappear entirely, and even makes even specific historical institutions kind of hard to see.

      That kind of galactic-level insight may be of interest to folks interested in grand strategy, and the structures and flows Castells discusses obviously do have implications for streets and bodies, but it’s the latter scale I’m truly interested in, and I find both he and Sassen don’t have much to say about that.

      I do acknowledge that Soja should probably be on there, but I just haven’t read him.

      And it’s kind of a stretch to call Hillier’s work “the birth of spatial analysis of cities,” don’t you think?

      PS Nice work on last.fm!

  13. Anil Bawa-Cavia says :

    Hi Adam,

    Thanks for clarifying that, your observation on scales makes perfect sense. Castells is indeed operating at a higher level.

    Regarding Hillier’s work, I have over-emphasized it, but it does scale down to the human level (isovists) and seems to be one of the earlier incarnations of a methodical, quantitative spatial analysis. It does seem to mark a shift in thinking on space in that we have had a lot of spatial analysis of this sort since (not exactly space syntax but similar), a fair amount of which deals with notions of accessibility/integration/segregation that may tie in to your book’s theme.

    Thanks again for sharing this list. I look forward to the book!

  14. Arvind Venkataramani says :

    Bloomin’ amazing list, thanks for sharing. My Zotero bibliography has engorged itself :)

    I noticed you don’t seem to have read John Stilgoe’s “Outside Lies Magic”, a first-person articulation of the dérive and ways to ‘read’ a landscape, and, I imagine, similar to Walkscapes (which I haven’t read). It’s a delightful read, and I highly recommend it.

    Stilgoe, J. R. (1999). Outside Lies Magic: Regaining History and Awareness in Everyday Places (0th ed.). Walker & Company.

    • AG says :

      I have read the Stilgoe, actually. It’s not a bad little book, but hasn’t really opened up any new lines of thought for me.

  15. negativeidlst says :

    This is kind of an awesome list just to look at.

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