100 B&W illustrations and 50 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781848222588 • Publication: October 4, 2019
Designing London’s Public Spaces
The Role of the Architect in the 20th and 21st Centuries
By Susannah Hagan with Dann Jessen
Available for preorder: this book will be shipped on its publication date of October 4, 2019
DescriptionOver the past two decades, there has been a growing anxiety over the privatisation, commercialisation and securitisation of public space, with some foretelling the “end of public space” altogether. By looking at the richness and particularity of key public spaces in London, this book paints a picture which isn’t nearly so simple or so dark. The book also looks at these public spaces from the point of view of their design and their designers.
Derived from the traditional city square and carrying similar social, historical and political implications, public spaces are designed to promote the civic life of the city and are often ensembles of building and space that form a coherent architectural and urban vision – with varying degrees of success. By examining the design and ambition of both Modernist and contemporary London public spaces, social and architectural change more generally can be traced. This highlights a contemporary marginalisation of the architect in the production of the built environment, and an overall decline in spatial innovation.
The book questions whether the existence of state-sponsored public realm production in 1960s and 70s made the quality of public space any better than its current equivalent and whether the recent addition of retail to these Modernist spaces adds to their success. It attempts to define ‘the public’ and who the architect should have in mind during the design process and wonders whether a public space devoid of public (i.e. empty) can be considered successful. In doing so, the book challenges current conventions about contemporary public space.