In this joyful new book Monocle unpacks what makes a great city, whether you’re looking for a new place to call home or need help fixing your own.
How do we make better cities – places that work for people of all ages and backgrounds? How do we make cities that provide the obvious essentials – great transport, good places to work – as well as the softer elements that truly deliver quality of life, from urban swimming pools to rooftop clubs?
Since its launch in 2007, Monocle has been passionate about making better places to live. Every year it publishes a Quality of Life Survey, which names the top 25 cities to call home. In addition, across the issues, it has interviewed the best mayors, looked at the metropolises putting pedestrians first and met the people creating the best parks, both pocket and grand.Discover how you too can have a High Line, create the most covetable housing or turn a dirty river into a summer asset.
Packed with great images and intriguing reports, this is a book that takes the urbanism debate away from city hall and explains what’s needed in ways that will inspire us all.
Hear from Monocle editor Andrew Tuck on what inspires him when it comes to urbanism and which cities perform best when it comes to quality of life.
1. Can you describe the inspiration behind the Monocle Guide to Building Better Cities?
Since the launch of the magazine we have been fascinated about cities and what makes them work – or not. It’s the reason we produce our annual survey of the top 25 cities in the world. But the discussion often gets wrapped in academic speak or made to sound like something only planners should think about. Why should we tolerate that? If you live in a city, you care about how it works and you also know that it’s often the small things that can change a street or a park – and those things can be delivered by ordinary citizens. People like you and me.
2. Which city stood out for you in terms of overall quality of life?
Well, that’s the great thing: we are living in a moment when many cities are making huge strides in how they create exciting urban experiences. New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Paris – all have introduced brilliant schemes and the book pulls in impressive ideas from about 100 places. But we also look at why less polished outposts such as Beirut can still teach us some important lessons. So I can’t pick one.
3. In your experience, what makes a great city?
Layers. My home base is London and while it has plenty of challenges, it still beguiles. There’s the mix of history, the abutting of eclectic architectural styles, the feeling of memories stacked on memories and the variety of people who call the city home. This produces a city that delivers moments of serendipity – views that surprise. It makes it hard for any modern city that has started from scratch to compete. But this is the magic that lets you think of the likes of London, Rome or LA as your ”home”.
4. What is your favourite memory in the process of putting together this book?
Sending it to print! There’s so much work that goes into these books and so many sessions where you decide to refine and redefine the story. When it finally heads to the printers, you are very happy.
TitleThe Monocle Guide to Building Better Cities