Where Do We Dream Ourselves Next?

My review of Darran Anderson’s book Imaginary Cities is up at Australian literary journal The Lifted Brow.

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Anderson’s grand literary tour of urban environments that never were, from citadels of myth to more manageable fantasies of the kind you’d find in Walt Disney’s EPCOT centre, challenges our vision of what cities could be in 2017 and beyond.

In my review for The Lifted Brow, I link Anderson’s work to projects taking place around Australia, giving local context to his epic global account of the urban past, present, and future.

Read ‘Where Do We Dream Ourselves Next?” at The Lifted Brow.

I believe in Space…and Desire: Jessica Begley on library design

A guest post by urban planner turned librarian Jessica Begley. What can libraries do to help users make the most of their spaces?

Like the Pixies, I believe in Space.

I have been fascinated by how and why people use space, and how subtle design can influence behaviour, for as long as I can remember.

As a teen, I merged this interest in social geography with psychology and came up with a degree in Urban Planning and Design.  I was going to change the world. Improve open spaces. Create spaces people felt happy in.  The reality I found was far from my planned dream. Rows of brickwork, overshadowing, trellis screens, and complaints all dominated my day.  Not even I liked the spaces I was approving.  Approving, not designing.

Fast-forward fifteen years.  I am still an urban planner, but only in my mind.  I have been trained to look at spaces, movement of people, land use, all in a certain way.  I can no longer look at a space like an ordinary person. Taking my kids to the shops, the park, the library, I analyse the flow of movement through space.  When I see conflicting uses, I see a design-based solution. When I see desire lines – the unplanned paths naturally taken by people in any setting – I read them.

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