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Urban Code - 100 Lessons for Understanding the City (Anglais) Relié – 23 septembre 2011

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Urban Code Cities speak, and this little book helps us understand their language. Considering the urban landscape not from the abstract perspective of an urban planner but from the viewpoint of an attentive observer, Urban Code offers 100 "lessons"--maxims, observations, and bite-size truths, followed by short essays--that teach us how to read the city. This is a user's guide to the city, a primer of urban l... Full description

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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 9 commentaires
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Patterns in Soho 11 septembre 2011
Par Steven Forth - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I have spent a few afternoons huddled on a stoop in Soho waiting while friends and family shop (Patterns 65: People sit with their back protected and 66: Sitting people observe their environment). I was ostensibly reading a book of poetry but mostly just watching, and because I was sitting low to the ground what I mostly watched was people's shoes. In Soho shoes are a badge of tribal membership. And watching shoes one gets a good feel for the rhythms of the street (Patterns 1: People walk in the sunshine, 3: Street vendors facilitate pedestrian movement, 13: Tourists carry bags, 17: Street vendors reinforce fluctuations, 42: People walk more slowly in the afternoon).

This is a wonderful little book on urban patterns, closely observed, in Soho NYC. It picks out what makes Soho work as a place - its intensity, consumerism, variety and intimacy. There are many suggestions in here for other places as well. I would like Vancouver to study these patterns and see how they could be applied on Commercial Drive, along Robson, in Yaletown and Gastown, or along 4th and in smaller communities like Marpole. Could we apply Pattern 20: Cars Park in Niches and get rid of on-street parking in places - think of all the possibilities this would open in Yaletown.

The book is not perfect, but it could be a starting point for a great pick up in the study of urban patterns, and it builds well off Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Cess Center for Environmental) and Kevin Lynch's The Image of the City (Harvard-MIT Joint Center for Urban Studies Series) classic work. I hope we can see similar books about other parts of NYC, other cities (can someone do this for Aoyama in Tokyo), and other types of urban environment.

I felt the book had a few serious flaws, that prevented me from giving it five stars.

1. It situates Soho overwhlmingly as a site of consumption. This is superficial as I know a number of designers and makers, even a few artists, who make things in Soho and making is, or should be, as important to us as comsumption.

2. The patterns are primarily captured and thought out visually . The soundscape has patterns too and these often reveal intimacies and rhthms that are otherwise hard to notice.

3. I would have liked to have seen more data cited. There are interesting economic claims on density, cars, shopping patterns and rents that I tend to believe but would like to see back up.

4. The patterns are not linked into a system and there is no index (see Design Patterns: Elements of Reusable Object-Oriented Software for some best practices.

My favourite patterns? Pattern 85: Weeds Reduce Aggression and Pattern 100 Fracture Create Friction.

Ten years after 9/11 NYC remains a wonderful diverse and dynamic place. And a resilient one. Thank you NYC and its people and its first responders.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
good for those unfamiliar with cities 22 novembre 2012
Par M. Saltzman - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I really wanted to like this book; "cities speak" it tells us, "100 Lesons for Understanding the City." Who's not going to be attracted by that catch line? But this book is clearly commercial and about catch lines, made for the sake of selling, not for exposing some new truth or utility. While reading this book I kept thinking "this has been written by people who are fascinated with Manhattan and the coolness of upscale neighborhoods, but really don't know much about the history and local issues of either." There is no critical or innovative perspective. I checked the bibliography and there I found a root of the problem-- only 6 sources, 5 of which were published between 1960 and 1983! This book was published in 2011. Ah! The city has evolved SO MUCH since Jane Jacobs and Kevin Lynch were writing. And so many enlightening books on everyday public spaces have been published since 1983. (Check out Loose Space by Franck and Stephens, I think they were shooting for something like Loose Space .) MIT Press! : ( MIT Press... ?

Running out of time, will make this review brief--

Vastly misleading title and subtitle.

Inaccurate generalizations. They often state "Cities..." when factually they are only referring to SoHo or a couple other international tourist urban centers. And, SoHo not in all its complexity, but from a commercial tourist perspective.

An overly optimistic ahistorical view that perpetuates the dangerous neocapitalist (ahistorical optimistic) narrative that is destroying and segregating our urban environments.

Similar to the way anthropologists used to study their cultural subjects prior to the 20th century-- underneath/behind a glass, not integrating, engaging, interacting with the subject.

Has no function. How could this book be used? It is too simple, one-sided, and inaccurate for urbanists, scholars, students, or entrepreneurs looking to relocate to the city; and too wordy for tourists...

The book does have its merits. It's short and inexpensive. If someone knows little about cities and is interested in reading a fun take on upscale commercial urban centers, or SoHo, he/she could enjoy this book. The book could sell in SoHo. Also, some of the photos are interesting.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Dissapointed with "observations" 7 juin 2012
Par Melissa Sweet - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Some of the lessons from the book were far too simple to be included, and instead seemed more like common sense. Notable examples include #20 (Cars can park in niches), #25 (Buildings outlive uses), #26 (A block consists of many buildings), #27 (Each building has at least one entrance), #36 (Pedestrians walk on sidewalks), #61 (Shop owners put their trash bags out on the street), and #84 (Traffic jams tend to bring out aggression).

As other reviewers mentioned, I would have liked to see more data backing up the lessons as well. If anything, I will be sure to read the books referenced in this one, as Urban Code left a lot to be desired.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Solid little book 18 février 2014
Par Lrjohn3 - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
3 may seem like a low rating, but I only do that because the majority of the lessons are pulled from the classics, Jane Jacobs and Kevin Lynch. In addition to those references throughout, it has some wonderful insights, but many things are hyper specific to SoHo, (not that I was promised anything different.) I recommend reading it, great little intro book for urban thinkers.
Refrian from Great Expectations 17 juin 2014
Par schadenfreude - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This book is beyond banal with graphics to match. The author’s generalizations and unresolved contradictions are rarely insightful. The opposition she draws between insider and outsider (local vs. tourist) gets tiresome.

I gave it three stars because in spite of its flaws the book is an inspiration for urban lovers. Put it in the hands of a class of junior high students on a field trip of city exploration and ask them to collect as many observations as they can, drawing, photographing, or writing haiku. Have them research the history and local issues. Students will learn how to visually navigate any city like a native. Better yet, this guide can serve as a primer for tourists.

Urban Code: 100 lessons for understanding the City is the type of book that can meet higher expectations when whole urban communities contribute their own perspectives and views. It may well be that this was the author’s intention.
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