Urban giants

With a beguiling mix of geeky infographics and striking photography and research, new book Living in the Endless City provides both a snapshot of global urban living and a guide to designing for the megacity.

Edited by Ricky Burdett of the London School of Economics and Dejan Sudjic of the Design Museum, the book follows on from the Endless City, Burdett and Sudjic’s 2008 work, which studied New York, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg and Berlin.

This time round the focus is on three rapidly growing ‘megacities’: Istanbul, Mumbai and São Paulo.

Beyond the high-rise city, religious festivals regularly transform Mumbai's waterfront by Jehangir Sorabjee
Beyond the high-rise city, religious festivals regularly transform Mumbai’s waterfront by Jehangir Sorabjee

The chapter titles give some indication both of the scale of the conurbations, and the book’s celebration of that – so while Mumbai is ‘managed chaos’, São Paulo is ‘the urban giant’ and Istanbul is ‘too big to fail’.

The recent, ongoing and explosive growth of the cities is mined for inspiration and ideas – public transport, sustainability and housing developments all go under the microscope. In his essay on Mumbai, Charles Correa says, ‘Mumbai is expected to grow into a city of 24 million within a decade. That seems monstrous. Unless we realise the size of the city can be mitigated by its structure.’

The anonymous city by Gal Oppido and Hugo Curti
The anonymous city by Gal Oppido and Hugo Curti

Cities occupy more less than 2 per cent of the Earth’s surface, but house more than half the world’s population and produce 80 per cent of its economic output. Living in the Endless City, a sprawling, vibrant and engaging book, is a fitting response to the modern megacity.

Living in the Endless City, edited by Ricky Burdett and Dejan Sudjic, is published by Phaidon priced at £39.95.

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