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Books on public space, planning and flood resilience

Titles by Marie Burns, Edward Barsley and Graham Haughton & Iain White illuminate planning theory, public squares and retrofitting for flood resilience

Retrofitting for Flood Resilience: A Guide to Building & Community Design
Edward Barsley. RIBA Publishing 344p HB 

Ed Barsley, founder and director of design-research-led consultancy The Environmental Design Studio, is also pursuing a PhD on flood-resilient architecture and the communication of risk. This book brings together his knowledge and expertise in the field in one weighty tome, and it’s a good one. Passive strategies for flood mitigation will seldom set the heart aflutter, but Barsley tries his darnedest to engage the reader with a volume chock-full of  images, excellent graphics and illustrations. The book, which seems a labour of love, is packed with guidance to help architects and urban designers understand fully the possible effects of and design to mitigate flooding. A serious study – only Superflex’s ‘Flooded McDonalds’ art installation engaged PiP more…

Why Plan? Theory for Practitioners
Graham Haughton & Iain White 
Lund Humphries 144p HB £29.95

In an effort to reinterpret the theoretical framework of planning, Haughton and White, lecturers in town planning at the universities of Hull and Manchester respectively, have produced this concise guide that makes for an engaging read for the associated practice of architecture. Deciding to avoid the accepted view of modern planning in the UK as a vestige of a ‘discredited post-war welfare state’, the authors aim to help the reader address the ‘existential’ question of what it is to be a planner. At the end of each short, but well-penned chapter, thy provide further reading and web-based resources such as blogs or videos. Don’t expect much by way of illustrations – there are very few – but everything points to this being a brief but solid read for practitioners.

New Life in Public Squares
Marie Burns RIBA Publishing 198p HB £40

The author, a qualified landscape architect, urban designer and transport planner with her own consultancy, is in a good position to offer opinions on the examples she cites as models of public space development in a number of domestic and European cities. Starting with a potted history of the typology, Burns breaks the study into six other chapters covering both historic and new squares. Each chapter takes three or four examples and provides a simple plan graphic at the start that places the square in the grain of the city, before analysing each in a concise and easily digested way. Well-illustrated throughout, this makes for an inspiring design guide. It’s a shame that PiP’s current favourite, Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square, doesn’t make the cut, but you can’t have everything.  

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