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Dear Chris…

Beijing-and-China-Air-PollutionThis is a series of letters between Chris Twinn, Arup Fellow & Senior Sustainability Consultant in Shanghai; and Austin Williams of FCP, after the publication of Williams’ article in China Daily (here)

Read on…

Military Urbanism?

‘Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism’ by Stephen Graham; Verso, 2011. 402pp

Reviewed by Austin Williams | 18 December 2012

Urban transformation has often been considered to be a virtue, but some view it differently; as a source of instability and conflict. Read on…

I run therefore I am!

‘The End of the Race (Running Away From The Race)’ by Dan Travis, 2012. 20pp

Reviewed by Jean Smith | 10 October 2012

As an active teenager growing up in the Midlands, I loved field hockey, even though my school team lost most games in the early 1970s. Cross-country running was another story altogether. I was hopeless and dreaded the humiliation Read on…

Keeping it Real in the ‘Fictitious Capital’

By Andrew Calcutt | 9 October 2012

Foolish to judge a whole book on this basis alone; but if the design on the front doesn’t give you the gist of what’s between the covers, its editors should be shot. The front cover of a new book London After Recession depicts the eponymous city as a ‘fictitious capital’ Read on…

Getting planners off our backs

By Alastair Donald | 22 September 

‘This Government means business’ announced David Cameron recently, and that starts with ‘getting planners off our backs’. But as highlighted by recent initiatives which attempt to use design to make us fitter and healthier, planners are meddling more than ever in our personal affairs and lifestyle choices.  Read on…

FILM: Urbanization

‘Urbanized’ directed by Gary Hustwit, 2011

Reviewed by Michael Owens | 25 June 2012

Urbanized is the cinematic delight one might expect of Gary Hustwit, the director of this, the third in a trilogy of studies in design, following Helvetica (modernism in a typeface), and Objectified (industrial and product design). Each deals with a dimension of design’s intimate relationship daily life. Read on…

After the Riots: what makes a city?

Michael Owens  | 17 October 2011

The riots affected many places that have been the focus for urban regeneration and neighbourhood renewal. It’s a bitter pill for those of us in the business to swallow, but our efforts may have contributed to the problem rather than helped create the solution. Read on…

The Mayor who set his sights low

Karl Sharro | 27 February 2010

Boris Johnson has made a virtue of opposing the construction of towers in London. One of his first appointees was former Westminster Council leader Simon Milton, a fierce critic of towers, who was named chief advisor on planning days after Boris took office. The hype that surrounded this appointment and Boris’ anti-tower policy claimed that under Ken Livingstone London was on its way to becoming Dubai-on-Thames. Read on…

FILM: Slumdog Millionaire

‘Slumdog Millionaire’ directed by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan, 2008

Reviewed by Siddharth Rajan | 8 February 2009

Danny Boyle has created a masterpiece in “Slumdog Millionaire”. With some great technical work and a rather unique storyline (based on the novel Q&A by Vikas Swarup), Danny has created what some are suggesting the best movie of 2008 worldwide. Read on…

Estates: An Intimate History

‘Estates: An Intimate History’ by Lynsey Hanley; Granta Books, 2007. 256pp

 Reviewed by Dave Clements | 26 February 2007

There used to be a sign on an estate I’d walk through in Hackney on my way home that read ‘No mind games’. I don’t know how long it had been there, so subtle and unassuming, but soon enough it was back to ‘No ball games’. Some pre-Banksy surrealist prankster had managed Read on…


Camouflage by Neil Leach; MIT Press, 2006. 289pp

Reviewed by Austin Williams  | 1 July 2006

After the Alan Sokal affair, cultural studies writers have been nervous of transgressing the boundaries between pretentious quackery and insightfulness. Reviewers too, tread cautiously for fear of humiliation. Read on…


‘Cities’ by John Reader; William Heinemann, 2004. 358pp

Reviewed by Austin Williams | 13 January 2006

I thoroughly enjoyed this book although at times I was quite confused by the author’s critique. Funnily enough, this, for me, made it an even more enjoyable exercise, absorbing the engaging facts and entertaining stories while trying to work out what the author really thought about it all. Read on…

The Anxious City

‘The Anxious City: British Urbanism in the late 20th Century’ by Richard J Williams; Routledge, 2004. 281pp

Reviewed by Austin Williams | 28 April 2005

This is a very well researched, incredibly detailed and thoroughly insightful critique of the apprehensive period in which we live represented in a critique of a number of British cities.

Read on…

The Art of Travel

‘The Art of Travel’ by Alain De Botton; Penguin, 2003. 272pp

Reviewed by Elisabetta Gasparoni-Abraham | 25 October 2003

This fascinating book, written by Alain De Botton, examines the diverse motives that moved great men of the past – like Charles Baudelaire and Edward Hopper, Gustave Flaubert, Alexander von Humbolt and William Wordsworth – to venture to new shores. He does this by juxtaposing their great experiences to the far less heroic experiences of De Botton himself.  Read on…

Cities for a Small Country

‘Cities for a Small Country: The Future of Cities’ by Anne Power and Richard Rogers; Faber and Faber, 2000. 314pp

Review by Austin Williams | 11 January 2001

In his introduction Will Hutton kicks off the argument that more socially balanced neighbourhoods ‘have to be constructed and designed’. There then follows 300 pages of morally charged argument about how to do it and why. Read on…