Phaidon's latest tome eschews art-and-design for facts-and-figures. The Endless City features essays by prominent architects, urban planners and other metropolitan experts who examine the modern urban condition and back up their conjectures with raw data. Edited by Ricky Burdett, a professor at the London School of Economics, and Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum, London, the book is a print companion to the Urban Age project, a study conducted by the LSE and Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society. It springs from the realization that, in 1900, only 10% of the human population lived in cities, while today it's 50%. Added to that the expectation that it will reach 75% by 2050, and there's just cause for a thorough reevaluation of our urban environments. And it's thorough, indeed—with more than 500 broad pages, the book can't be faulted for undue brevity.
The writers attack their challenge with six case studies: New York, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg and Berlin. These particular cities hold a wealth of unique challenges. (Mexico City sprawls ever larger by the minute, while Berlin is relatively stagnant; Shanghai is growing upward with thousands of new buildings, while Johannesburg has citizens shifting to the periphery.) Through these examples, we learn about the issues facing us related to globalization, immigration, jobs, social exclusion and sustainability with some prescriptions for the future. All of this is accompanied by hundreds of arresting images, and lots of numbers.