A sense of belonging

URBAN VILLAGES Tony Aldous Publishers: Urban Villages Group, UK Pages: 95 Price: Not stated

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

URBAN Villages studies reasons for the breakdown of community ties and traces the genesis of social unrest in our cities and towns. It's interesting to observe how this happens in places where new buildings have damaged rather than enhanced local character; where older but potentially useful buildings have become derelict and have been demolished; and where the young, able and nubile have departed, leaving a population made up predominantly of elderly or otherwise disadvantaged people -- those who cannot move away or get jobs in a better environment.

The book takes us to Edinburgh New Town; Clerkenwell on London's fringes; Charleston in South Carolina; and Montparnasse in Paris. In these and other places, we find community spirit, pride of place and a sense of belonging; local organisations and business have flourished. One discovers a feeling of stability and permanence -- gaining from a townscape made up of buildings, often traditional in design, not by any means all the same size and height, but well-scaled and relating harmoniously to each other.

Urban Villages strikes at something fundamental -- environmental factors are of paramount significance to the way we develop and mould our built habitats. In this context, the book studies the kind of urban environment that would encourage development of healthy communities, be built on environmentally sound principles, be sustainable, and enjoy a degree of self-sufficiency not contemplated in post-war development.

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