The book ‘Suburban Urbanities: Suburbs and the Life of the High Street‘ is launched today. It’s open access and free for you to download and read.
The book is edited by Laura Vaughan, who led two research projects in which I was involved as co-investigator. First, ‘Towards Successful Suburban Town Centres‘ (2006-2009) and then ‘Adaptable Suburbs‘ (2010-2014). In both projects, we had challenging and interesting issues of bridging disciplinary views between geography and urban design (specifically space syntax, Laura’s sub-discipline). You can see one outcome of these discussion in the first chapter of the book ‘The Suburb and the City’ which we co-authored with Sam Griffiths. The chapter is an update and extension of the article ‘Do the Suburbs Exist?’ which we published in 2009 in Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers with Kate Jones.
Leaving aside this specific chapter, the book include multiple views of suburbs – or as it is described:
“Suburban space has traditionally been understood as a formless remnant of physical city expansion, without a dynamic or logic of its own. Suburban Urbanities challenges this view by defining the suburb as a temporally evolving feature of urban growth.
Anchored in the architectural research discipline of space syntax, this book offers a comprehensive understanding of urban change, touching on the history of the suburb as well as its current development challenges, with a particular focus on suburban centres. Studies of the high street as a centre for social, economic and cultural exchange provide evidence for its critical role in sustaining local centres over time. Contributors from the architecture, urban design, geography, history and anthropology disciplines examine cases spanning Europe and around the Mediterranean.
By linking large-scale city mapping, urban design scale expositions of high street activity and local-scale ethnographies, the book underscores the need to consider suburban space on its own terms as a specific and complex field of social practice”