20 March 2013

Book: A History of Future Cities

Be the first to share

A History of Future Cities
by Daniel Brook
W. W. Norton & Company
2013 – 480 pages
[Amazon link]

The new book A History of Future Cities looks at the attempts of places like Dubai, Shanghai, and Mumbai to create Western-looking areas in an attempt to create a sense of modernity.

Abstract

A pioneering exploration of four cities where East meets West and past becomes future: St. Petersburg, Shanghai, Mumbai, and Dubai.

Every month, five million people move from the past to the future. Pouring into developing-world “instant cities” like Dubai and Shenzhen, these urban newcomers confront a modern world cobbled together from fragments of a West they have never seen. Do these fantastical boomtowns, where blueprints spring to life overnight on virgin land, represent the dawning of a brave new world? Or is their vaunted newness a mirage?

In a captivating blend of history and reportage, Daniel Brook travels to a series of major metropolitan hubs that were once themselves instant cities— St. Petersburg, Shanghai, and Mumbai—to watch their “dress rehearsals for the twenty-first century.” Understanding today’s emerging global order, he argues, requires comprehending the West’s profound and conflicted influence on developing-world cities over the centuries.

In 1703, Tsar Peter the Great personally oversaw the construction of a new Russian capital, a “window on the West” carefully modeled on Amsterdam, that he believed would wrench Russia into the modern world. In the nineteenth century, Shanghai became the fastest-growing city on earth as it mushroomed into an English-speaking, Western-looking metropolis that just happened to be in the Far East. Meanwhile, Bombay, the cosmopolitan hub of the British Raj, morphed into a tropical London at the hands of its pith-helmeted imperialists.

Juxtaposing the stories of the architects and authoritarians, the artists and revolutionaries who seized the reins to transform each of these precociously modern places into avatars of the global future, Brook demonstrates that the drive for modernization was initially conflated with wholesale Westernization. He shows, too, the ambiguous legacy of that emulation—the birth (and rebirth) of Chinese capitalism in Shanghai, the origins of Bollywood in Bombay’s American-style movie palaces, the combustible mix of revolutionary culture and politics that rocked the Russian capital—and how it may be transcended today.

A fascinating, vivid look from the past out toward the horizon, A History of Future Cities is both a crucial reminder of globalization’s long march and an inspiring look into the possibilities of our Asian Century.

Fast Company review

The four are as much “ideas” as places, he argues–Eastern cities in agrarian backwaters that copied the West architecturally in hopes of borrowing their modernity. To whatever extent they’ve succeeded, they point the way forward for the next urban billion.

Be the first to share
15 November 2017
[Book] Designing Better Services: A Strategic Approach from Design to Evaluation
Designing Better Services: A Strategic Approach from Design to Evaluation by Francesca Foglieni, Beatrice Villari and Stefano Maffei (Polytechnic University of Milan) Springer International Publishing, 2018 VIII, 115 pages This book provides accessible, comprehensive guidance on service design and …
3 October 2017
Don’t miss Experientia at Torino Design of the City
Torino Design of the City is nearly here! Experientia will of course be part of this exciting week (10-16 October) of events, meetings, workshops, exhibitions and guided tours about design, and we warmly invite you …
3 September 2017
[Book] Think like an anthropologist
Think Like An Anthropologist by Matthew Engelke Pelican, August 2017, 339 pages [Start reading - Amazon link] How does anthropology help us understand who we are? What can it tell us about culture, from Melanesia to the City of London? Why …
28 April 2017
[Book] Quantitative Ethnography
Quantitative Ethnography David Williamson Shaffer Boswell Press Available April 2017 > Download Introduction > Watch video presentation This is a book about understanding why, in the digital age, the old distinctions between qualitative and quantitative research methods, between the sciences and …
22 April 2017
Boston’s human-centered research to design middle-income housing
In Boston, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics is conducting ethnographic, human-centered research to design middle-income housing that reflects people’s lived experiences, reports the Stanford Social Innovation Review. This includes intensive planning sessions in …
21 April 2017
[Book] The Stuff of Bits – An Essay on the Materialities of Information
The Stuff of Bits: An Essay on the Materialities of Information by Paul Dourish MIT Press, May 2017 264 pages Virtual entities that populate our digital experience, like e-books, virtual worlds, and online stores, are backed by the large-scale …
5 April 2017
[Book chapter] Behavioral economics and health
Behavioral Economics and Health Judd B. Kessler and C. Yiwei Zhang Oxford Textbook of Public Health 2014 Behavioral Economics combines the insights of Economics and Psychology to identify how individuals deviate from the standard assumptions of economic theory and …
23 November 2016
Where’s Wally? In Search of Citizen Perspectives on the Smart City
Where’s Wally? In Search of Citizen Perspectives on the Smart City by Vanessa Thomas, Ding Wang and Louise Mullagh of the HighWire Centre for Doctoral Training of Lancaster University and Nick Dunn of ImaginationLancaster Sustainability 2016, …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

20 November 2017
Experientia and Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo announce innovative partnership

Wide ranging partnership also covers collaboration with design schools and public events on service design “Finding the way forward for independent design means building new business models for service design consultancies in the age of the company buy-out.” Michele Visciola, President, Experientia PRESS RELEASE It seems the business world is finally realising that service and […]

26 October 2017
Epic storytelling with video

Another EPIC conference come and gone, and no, we’re not using “epic” in the way under-10s use it about cool things on the internet. EPIC is the Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference, one of the most important annual events for practitioners of anthropology, ethnography and related disciplines. Ethnography is one of Experientia’s key methodologies, underpinning […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Service design intern

Service Design Intern: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy Experientia, an international experience design consultancy, is looking for service design interns for our Turin, Italy office, to support research, concept development and design. The ideal candidate will be a holistic thinker and designer, with a systems approach to enable complex service offerings, driven by an understanding […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Senior Service Designer

Senior Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) We are looking for service designers with outstanding design skills, methodical thinking, and experience in designing complex service ecosystems using a human-centered design methodology.   Required 2-5 years’ experience in service design and/or user experience design University and/or advanced degree(s) in Service Design, Interaction Design, User […]

23 October 2017
Experientia is hiring! Lead Service Designer

Lead Service Designer: Lausanne, Switzerland and Turin, Italy (*) Experientia is seeking a Senior Service Designer to lead service design projects from the Turin, Italy office (*) or the Lausanne, Switzerland office. The Senior Service Designer will have experience leading a team of behavioral analysts and service modelers in research and service design projects lasting […]

18 October 2017
Innovate through service design – The Innovation Center of Intesa Sanpaolo and Experientia for “Torino Design of the City”

by Erin O’Loughlin – Photos: Naz Kazazoglu In Turin, you only need to tell your taxi driver “Take me to the skyscraper” to end up at the impressive Innovation Center of the Intesa Sanpaolo bank, rising in the heart of Turin, with a fine view of the Turin hills and the Italian alps. Here on […]

See all articles