"The title says it all; this beautiful, engaging and unusual book is a survey of placemaking from around the world, but with special emphasis on Australia. Its basic message is that ethics, pragmatism and commerce are not antithetical, but complementary. Or to put it another way: good design is also good business.
Andrew Hoyne runs a very successful branding consultancy whose clients include many in the property sector for whom he develops brand and marketing strategies. That might suggest he has a very particular slant on planning issues. But it may also suggest that he is looking at things from a very informed and realistic vantage point. The proposition that good design makes for good profits is not laboured in the book, although it is a proposition generally ignored in mainstream architectural and planning discourse.
Andrew’s contribution to the discussion on how we can make the built environment a much richer place is outstanding, beginning with the imagination and care that has gone into the design of the book. It is highly accessible and visually stimulating. A lot of thought has gone into ensuring that the information and opinion contained in the book is presented clearly and in a very navigable way. This extends to the language which eschews ‘archi-speak’ and focuses instead on plain English without ever compromising the ideas or the need for context.
The texts are a mixture of short essays, conversations and interviews, while the writers are a who’s-who of Australian planning and architecture, as well as a number of prominent international contributors such as Jan Gehl and Alain de Botton. Each section includes case studies ranging from the Ellenbrook new-town in Perth through Melbourne’s urban strategies to the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul and initiatives in Beijing, Rotterdam, Singapore, Chicago, New York and Christchurch.
The book is richly illustrated with the design broken up by bold full-bleed photos, double-page graphic spreads, illustrations and typographic variety. Essentially, this book is a resource. It provides an historical overview of urban planning as well as detailed exposition of current thinking – which can be summed up by the term ‘placemaking’.
While it certainly exposes the flaws in past, indeed current, urban planning, it is a remarkably positive book. It sets out to generate enthusiasm for new initiatives, whether it be the transformation of Melbourne CBD, visionary schemes in Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Stockholm, the future of Parramatta or how to make densification more liveable."