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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Designing for the urban age

Cities are like organized religion: richly layered, often paradoxical and uniquely qualified to bring out the best and worst in humankind. A new book edited by Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic, titled The Endless City (Phaidon), conveys the oft-contradictory nature of cities, including their innate ability to both quell and incite social and political conflict. At least, that’s the salutary subtext of the book. Its more arrant objective is to lend fire-and-brimstone urgency to the sharp rise in the world’s urban population within the past century. Even the book’s blazing orange cover, inscribed with eye-popping statistics (75% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050!) is used to convey the apocalyptic immediacy of its appeal . . .