You would be hard-pressed to find an architect or urban planner who doesn’t have at least a handful of these titles resting proudly on their bookshelf. After all, when it comes to classic tomes, who wouldn’t prefer the real thing to an online version of itself? Still, it’s great to know that if you don’t have every must-read architecture/design/urban theory book around, you can find some of these literary gems online for free.
As a master program dealing with sustainable urban development, a fundamental knowledge of urban theory and a deep understanding of how cities function is essential to working thoughtfully in both developed and developing contexts. We scanned the internet to find what are some the most influential books on cities (with a focus on sustainability, equity and public space) available online for free, many of which figure in our curriculum’s extensive reading list put together by our faculty members.
So unless you decide to run out and buy the paper version instead, click away.
1. A Ladder of Citizen Participation (1969) by Sherry R Arnstein
2. A Pattern Language (1977) by Christopher Alexander, et al.
3. Architecture without Architects (1964) by Bernard Rudosfky
4. Atlas of the Conflict (2012) by Malkit Shoshan
5. Collage City (1978) by Colin Rowe and Fred Koetter
6. Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire (1999) by Mark Wigley
7. Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change (1972) by Victor Papanek
– A classic design tome that “examines attempts by designers to combat the tawdry, the unsafe, the frivolous, the useless product, once again providing a blueprint for sensible, responsible design in this world which is deficient in resources and energy.”
8. Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments (1976) by John F. C. Turner
9. If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory and Social Activism (1991) by Martha Rosler
10. Social Justice and the City (1973) by David Harvey
11. The Architecture of the City (1982) by Aldo Rossi
– A long-term research project on architecture, housing, and socioeconomic inequality by Columbia University’s Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture reporting on the sleight-of-hand by which public housing was removed from consideration as a viable policy option.
13. The City and the Grassroots by Manuel Castells
14. The City Reader (1996) by LeGates and Stout
15. The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961) by Jane Jacobs
16. The Placemaker’s Guide to Building Community (2011) by Nabeel Hamdi
– A practical guide to community development that challenges the one-size-fits-all top-down approach to design and planning, by particpatory planning pioneer Nabeel Hamdi–who we are proud to have as one of our faculty members.
17. The Poetics of Space (1958) by Gaston Bachelard
18. The Practice of Everyday Life (1984) by Michel De Certeau
19. The Production of Space (1974) by Henri Lefebvre
20. The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces (1980) by William Whyte
– Classic study of New York’s plazas (accompanied by the film) that laid the groundwork for a major movement to change the way public spaces were built and planned.
21. The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere by Jürgen Habermas (1962)
22. The Three Ecologies (1989) by Felix Guattari
23. Writings on Cities (1968) by Henri Lefebvre
– Lefebvre’s manifesto on the democratization of urban life.