Tech reads, Mar 2016

PIP editor Jan Carlos Kucharek reviews the latest books

A Practical Guide to Permitted Changes of Use
Martin H Goodall, Bath Publishing, 265pp PB £40

The writer has spent over 35 years as a specialist planning lawyer, is a member of the Law Society’s Planning Panel and, more to the point, is author of the Planning Law blog – which probably ensures him a readership beyond the buyers of this detailed breakdown of the General Permitted Development Order. Goodall covers all the bases here, his chapters conveniently split into all the permutations of ‘to’ and ‘from’ Change of Use. While planning permission for these developments is no longer required, many require prior approval by authorities; and Goodall gives clear, detailed advice on the operation of the prior approval procedure. The general introduction provides a concise overview of the legal context; after that, it’s a case of diving in to the specific chapters. A solid reference book for architects on current CoU policy.

Suburban Urbanities – Suburbs and the Life of the High Street
Laura Vaughan ed, UCL Press, 345pp PB £25

Jane Jacobs’ pioneering work on the death and life of the city continues to engage, with UCL Professor Laura Vaughan’s collection of essays analysing the morphology of the UK high street through time and via the likes of Spain’s Toledo, Limassol in Cyprus and urban Tripoli. With her specialisation in urban form and society, the emphasis here seems to be more on the former, with analytical studies of spatial typologies evident through space syntax and quantitative evaluations. The aim is a worthy one, to see suburbia as a factor of time rather than its stasis – ‘not a caricature of a life less lived but a dynamic context of metropolitan agency and creativity’. Essays are dense and perhaps only for those with a deeper knowledge of the subject, but it’s alleviated by attractive interspersed infographics and maps.

Recoded City: Co-creating Urban Futures
Thomas Ermacora & Lucy Bullivant eds, Routledge, 320pp PB £34

Regeneration architect Ermacora and cultural commentator Bullivant delve into the sea of ‘participatory placemaking’, otherwise known as ‘bottom-up regeneration’, by giving it a new title: ‘Recoding’. All very well, but the term already creates a semantic veil to the essentially simple notion of community engagement and mobilisation. The book argues for this worthwhile and highly beneficial process by highlighting case studies from architects and organisations globally who stand at the coal-face of the issue. While there’s no doubt the content should engage the reader, the book’s design adopts ‘Monocle-like’ layouts and graphics throughout, seeming to homogenise what one assumes to be highly different stories and experiences – serving to render real human stories through the subtle, slightly disassociated filter of style.