Reading List

Architecture and Cities: Verso Student Reading

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Our global present is increasingly defined by the condition of cities. From the radical urbanism of Latin America, to the skyscrapers of the global Megacities, our Architecture and Cities books offer the perfect primer to this most vital of subjects.

All our student reading is 50% off until September 30, 23.59 (EDT), 2018.

See all our student reading (and full T&Cs) here!

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FREE EBOOK GIVEAWAY >>

Unfortunately the free ebook giveaway for this reading list has now ended (as of 10am EDT, September 18). We are doing some other flash ebook giveaways in September - see here for more details!

In Extreme Cities, Dawson offers an alarming portrait of the future of our cities, describing the efforts of Staten Island, New York, and Shishmareff, Alaska residents to relocate; Holland’s models for defending against the seas; and the development of New York City before and after Hurricane Sandy. Our best hope lies not with fortified sea walls, he argues. Rather, it lies with urban movements already fighting to remake our cities in a more just and equitable way.

An award-winning cultural history of how we experience the world through art, film and architecture.

In City of Quartz, Mike Davis reconstructs L.A.’s shadow history and dissects its ethereal economy. He tells us who has the power and how they hold on to it. He gives us a city of Dickensian extremes, Pynchonesque conspiracies, and a desperation straight out of Nathaniel Westa city in which we may glimpse our own future mirrored with terrifying clarity.

Urgent, timely and compelling, Municipal Dreams brilliantly brings the national story of housing to life. In this landmark reappraisal of council housing, historian John Boughton presents an alternative history of Britain. Rooted in the ambition to end slum living, and the ideals of those who would build a new society, Municipal Dreams looks at how the state’s duty to house its people decently became central to our politics. The book makes it clear why that legacy and its promise should be defended. 

Michael Sorkin is one of the most forthright and engaging architectural writers in the world. In What Goes Up he takes to task the public officials, developers, “civic” organizations, and other heroes of big money, who have made of Sorkin’s beloved New York a city of glittering towers and increasing inequality. He unpacks not simply the forms and practices—from zoning and political deals to the finer points of architectural design—that shape cities today but also offers spirited advocacy for another kind of city, reimagined from the street up on a human scale, a home to sustainable, just, and fulfilling neighborhoods and public spaces. 

Eric Hazan, author of the acclaimed Invention of Paris, takes the reader on a walk from Ivry to Saint-Denis, roughly following the meridian that divides Paris into east and west, and passing such familiar landmarks as the Luxembourg Gardens, the Pompidou Centre, the Gare du Nord and Montmartre, as well as forgotten alleyways and arcades. Weaving historical anecdotes, geographical observations, and literary references, Hazan’s walk guides us through an unknown Paris. With the aid of maps, he delineates the most fascinating and forgotten parts of the city’s past and present.

At a time of ever more accelerated and expanded development of natural and agricultural territory, in the aim of making targeted areas more profitable and controllable, there are inhabitants who oppose these projects with a firm, unwavering NO. This is the case in Notre-Dame-des-Landes in western France and in the Italian Susa Valley, where decades-long battles have been mounted against high-speed transport infrastructure, an airport for one, and a high-speed train (TAV) between Lyon and Turin for the other.

This book recounts these two histories-in-the-making and gives voice to their protagonists. It was born of the intuition that these experiences and the hypotheses that emerge from them should circulate at the same time as the slogans and the enthusiasm, to strengthen the will to resist.

 In 1968, the French Marxist philosopher Henri Lefebvre wrote “Le Droit a la Ville” (“The Right to the City”), which has become one of the most essential texts in radical geography and urban studies. It transformed the way we think about urban life and the right to make and remake our cities, and ourselves. Fifty years on, the question of who is the city is for, and why, is more urgent than ever.

In this special Verso report, some of the most important voices in the current debate on the right to city are gathered to debate what Lefebvre originally intended and what it might mean today within the neoliberal urban world.

In Defense of Housing is the definitive statement on the housing crisis from leading urban planner Peter Marcuse and sociologist David Madden. They look at the causes and consequences of the housing problem and detail the need for progressive alternatives. The housing crisis cannot be solved by minor policy shifts, they argue. Rather, the housing crisis has deep political and economic roots—and therefore requires a radical response.

In Radical Cities, Justin McGuirk travels across Latin America in search of the activist architects, maverick politicians and alternative communities already answering these questions. From Brazil to Venezuela, and from Mexico to Argentina, McGuirk discovers the people and ideas shaping the way cities are evolving. 

Extrastatecraft is the operating system of the modern world: the skyline of Dubai, the subterranean pipes and cables sustaining urban life, free-trade zones, the standardized dimensions of credit cards, and hyper-consumerist shopping malls. It is all this and more. Infrastructure sets the invisible rules that govern the spaces of our everyday lives, making the city the key site of power and resistance in the twenty-first century.

Keller Easterling reveals the nexus of emerging governmental and corporate forces buried within the concrete and fiber-optics of our modern habitat. Extrastatecraft will change how we think about cities—and, perhaps, how we live in them.

Postmodern Geographies stands as the cardinal broadcast and defence of theory’s “spatial turn.” From the suppression of space in modern social science and the disciplinary aloofness of geography to the spatial returns of Foucault and Lefebvre and the construction of Marxist geographies alert to urbanization and global development, renowned geographer Edward W. Soja details the trajectory of this turn and lays out its key debates. 

Starting at the edge of earth’s atmosphere and, in a series of riveting studies, descending through each layer, Graham explores the world of drones, the city from the viewpoint of an aerial bomber, the design of sidewalks and the hidden depths of underground bunkers. He asks: why was Dubai built to be seen from Google Earth? How do the super-rich in São Paulo live in their penthouses far above the street? Why do London billionaires build vast subterranean basements? And how do the technology of elevators and subversive urban explorers shape life on the surface and subsurface of the earth?

All Over the Map is an urgent response to the radical changes in contemporary architecture and the built environment witnessed in the twenty-first century. Characteristically polemic, incisive and energetic, these essays explore pressing questions of architectural and urban design, and critical issues of public space and participation. From New York to New Orleans, the Amazon to Jerusalem, Michael Sorkin brings a critical eye to bear on a sweeping range of subjects.

Accessible to those who have only just discovered the Situationists and filled with new insights, The Beach Beneath the Street rereads the group’s history in the light of our contemporary experience of communications, architecture, and everyday life. The Situationists tried to escape the world of twentieth-century spectacle and failed in the attempt. Wark argues that they may still help us to escape the twenty-first century, while we still can.

In an age of globalization characterized by the dizzying technologies of the First World, and the social disintegration of the Third, is the concept of utopia still meaningful? Archaeologies of the Future, Jameson’s most substantial work since Postmodernism, Or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, investigates the development of this form since Thomas More, and interrogates the functions of utopian thinking in a post-Communist age. 

According to the United Nations, more than one billion people now live in the slums of the cities of the South. In this brilliant and ambitious book, Mike Davis explores the future of a radically unequal and explosively unstable urban world. From the sprawling barricadas of Lima to the garbage hills of Manila, urbanization has been disconnected from industrialization, and even from economic growth. Davis portrays a vast humanity warehoused in shantytowns and exiled from the formal world economy.

Does gentrification destroy diversity? Or does it thrive on it?

This subtle study of a storied urban neighborhood reveals the way that upper-middle-class newcomers have positioned themselves as champions of diversity, and how their mobilization around this key concept has reordered class divisions rather than abolished them.

The Limits to Capital provides one of the best theoretical guides to the history and geography of capitalist development. In this new edition, Harvey updates his classic text with a substantial discussion of the turmoil in world markets today.

Rebel Cities places the city at the heart of both capital and class struggles, looking at locations ranging from Johannesburg to Mumbai, from New York City to São Paulo. Drawing on the Paris Commune as well as Occupy Wall Street and the London Riots, Harvey asks how cities might be reorganized in more socially just and ecologically sane ways—and how they can become the focus for anti-capitalist resistance.

The Autonomous City is the first popular history of squatting as practised in Europe and North America. Alex Vasudevan retraces the struggle for housing in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Detroit, Hamburg, London, Madrid, Milan, New York, and Vancouver. He looks at the organisation of alternative forms of housing—from Copenhagen’s Freetown Christiana to the squats of the Lower East Side—as well as the official response, including the recent criminalisation of squatting, the brutal eviction of squatters and their widespread vilification.

From the tunnels of Gaza to the militarized airspace of the Occupied Territories, Eyal Weizman unravels Israel’s mechanisms of control and its transformation of Palestinian homes into a war zone under constant surveillance. This is essential reading for those seeking to understand how architecture and infrastructure are used as lethal weapons in the formation of Israel.

With its unique systematic overview, from Washington, D.C. and revolutionary Paris to the flamboyant twenty- first-century capital Astana in Kazakhstan, its wealth of urban observations from all the populated continents, and its sharp and multi-faceted analyses, Cities of Power forces us to rethink our urban future, as well as our historically shaped present.

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All our student reading is 50% off until September 30, 23.59 (EDT), 2018.

See all our student reading (and full T&Cs) here!