This week was Nuala’s turn at the book club, a challenge she took with much gusto! Our resident PhD student, Nuala has an impressive talent at deciphering information, analysing and summarising content. The thesis for the evening was: What creates a good City? Covering three books, Cities for People by Jan Gehl, Creating Sustainable Cities by Herbert Girardet and Collapse by Jared Diamond, she drew key arguments from each, which built towards a lively debate on the responsibility of individuals in creating sustainable cities.
Jan Gehl, the Danish architect who reformed Copenhagen into a City for People, uses a method of people-watching to understand what a good city could be, with ‘Liveliness’ of a City being an essential element. However, Nuala found it lacked discussion on why liveliness was so important and was disappointed to find little rigour behind his method of people-watching.
In Jared Diamond’s Collapse, the writer establishes a 5 point framework for why Cities collapse. The last book, Creating Sustainable Cities, looks to find how the problems of a City can be solved, providing examples of Cities that are sustainable within themselves. These books posed complex questions to the book club – Is it every persons duty to be aware and act on sustainability? Are Cities the answer to the issues of sustainability? How do our actions impact the City? A very successful book club, Nuala brought to light the greater context in which ‘Love the City’ is working and conveyed the importance of understanding and debating this in order to create a good City.