Books

Those who have an interest in urban design, styles of design and conservation should take note of a number of interesting books that have been published during the preceding months. New schools of thought in design; ideas around happy cities; ways of viewing your town with a fresh outlook; and Old Cape furniture provide the subjects for stimulating discussion in these publications.Those who have an interest in urban design, styles of design and conservation should take note of a number of interesting books that have been published during the preceding months. New schools of thought in design; ideas around happy cities; ways of viewing your town with a fresh outlook; and Old Cape furniture provide the subjects for stimulating discussion in these publications.

  • Speculative Everything: Design, Fiction, and Social Dreaming – Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby. MIT Press, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-2620-1984-2

Speculative Everything

Dunne and Raby, professors at the London College of Art, represent a new line of thinking in design, the idea of ‘critical design’. Instead of designers – including architects and town planners – mainly solving problems, they should also create new conditions or products or improve these. By this, the authors mean that new problems should be detected. A designer does this by imagining a completely new future.

In this way, Jürgen Bey, while designing new railway systems and roads, would also study the psychology of travelling. In relation to the cost of constructing a road or a railway, it would normally cost very little to also make the travelers’ experience both more attractive and more satisfactory.

Critical design, briefly, is therefore future-oriented and aware of the manner in which people experience design. Speculative design furthermore is an essential step in critical design. A speculative concept is not regarded as inferior if it is not practical and is not immediately accepted by the market. It is important, though, because it encourages people to change their way of thinking. Click here for more. 

  • Wrestling with Moses. How Jane Jacobs took on New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City – Anthony Flint. Random House, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-8129-8136-0Wrestling with Moses

Jane Jacobs is counted among the most influential thinkers on urban design in the Twentieth Century. This book records how she, a virtual David in the battle, successfully opposed Goliath (Robert Moses, who was armed with political connections and the serious issues of a developer) to preserve Greenwich Village in New York, amongst others. Click here for more detail. Further information is also available here.

  • The Happy City – Charles Montgomery. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013. ISBN: 978-0-3741-6823-0

HappyCitybookWhile Jacobs (see above) campaigned for the preservation of an urban area with – mostly – happy residents who experience a measure of ‘connectedness’, Charles Montgomery is a prophet for the establishment of more such neighbourhoods. This book highlights an unexpected connection between happiness and the design of sustainable residential areas. Click here for more or read here for further information.

  • On Looking: Eleven Walks with Expert Eyes – Alexandra Horowitz. Scribner, 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4391-9125-5On_Looking_Eleven_Walks

In this book, the scientist Alexandra Horowitz discusses how walking in another’s shoes also makes it possible to view things differently. She selected eleven different companions to take a walk with her around a single city block. The result? Multiple new experiences due to the way in which each one experienced his/her environment from another perspective – from that of a dog, to the perspectives of a geologist, a sociologist, a doctor and a sound engineer. Click here for more or here.

  • Ou-Kaapse meubels – Studies in style – Matilda Burden.  SUN MeDIA.  ISBN 978-0-620-58650-4

Ou-Kaapse meubels

Ou-Kaapse meubels studies in style is a historical style manual based on thorough, in-depth research. The content is presented following a logical, ordered approach that enables the reader to identify styles and place furniture within particular eras.  The unique layout by the skilled artist at SUN MeDIA makes it a pleasure to open and page through this book.

The focus on historical styles represents a new approach in local literature on antique furniture. Ou-Kaapse meubels studies in style presents a breakdown of styles that occurred at the Cape until round about 1900, and the different levels of sophistication at which the furniture was aimed.  Background to the origin of the styles assists readers in identifying the styles for themselves, and to identify particular examples of furniture according to the style of a period, while simultaneously getting to know Old Cape furniture in a broader context.  The research process has involved Mathilda Burden in a journey of more than 17 000 km all over South Africa, during which she studied more than 3 500 examples of furniture.  Photos of round about 1 220 of these are included in the book.

Ou-Kaapse meubels studies in style is available from the University Museum, Stellenbosch.