Cities of Future Essay

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The steady, centuries-long migration of people into cities passed a crucial milestone last year. More than half of humanity now lives in cities—and that figure will likely reach 75% by 2050. This urban shift is already visibly transforming newly sprawling giants such as Shanghai and Mexico City, as well as highly developed cities such as New York and London. This growth is also bringing titanic problems.

Now, The Endless City, a new book edited by the London School of Economics' Ricky Burdett and design curator Deyan Sudjic, aims to put urban expansion into perspective. The growth of cities, they argue, is not just a problem for local government agents or urban planners. Instead, urban growth is inseparable from major political and economic forces including globalization, immigration, employment, social exclusion, and sustainability (themes that track closely with the issues currently being debated in the runup to the U.S. Presidential election.)

The book's encyclopedic scope and the way it connects urban problems to economic and social issues make it a useful resource for urban planners and architects, as well as a broader range of designers and business people hoping to orient their products and services to consumers living in the world's fast-growing cities.

Cities as a Source of Strength

The 500-page tome is the culmination of four years of meetings, conferences, and collaborations among the members of an informal working group of nearly 40 architects, planners, designers, and academics, dubbed the Urban Age Project. Spearheaded by Burdett and Sudjic, both based in London, the project has hosted conferences in cities from Berlin to Mumbai.

In this, the group's first major book, the team seeks a vision of cities as places where "urban life becomes a source of mutual strength rather than a source of mutual estrangement and civic bitterness," according to group member Richard Sennett, a sociologist.

The book is intended as a practical resource...

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