Humanize A maker's guide to designing our cities

Thomas Heatherwick

Book - 2023

From one of the world's most innovative designers comes a fiercely passionate manifesto on why so many places have become miserable and boring and how we can make them better for everyone--featuring hundreds of photographs and illustrations that will change how you see the world around you. We are living through a global catastrophe. Buildings affect how we feel, moment by moment, day by day. They have the power to lift us up and make us feel awestruck, playful, safe, and inspired, just as they can make us feel alienated and sad. But many of the places where we live, work, learn, and heal have become monotonous and disposable. We're surrounded by cheap, boring buildings that make people stressed, sick, and unhappy. In short, much ...of our world has been crafted in a way that is hostile to human experience. Now, drawing on his experience of the last thirty years in making bold, beautiful objects and buildings, Thomas Heatherwick offers both an informed critique of the inhumanity in most of today's contemporary building design, and a rousing call for action. Looking through Heatherwick's eyes, we see familiar landmarks and cityscapes around the world, from London, Paris, Barcelona, Singapore, New York, Vancouver, and beyond, both old and new, famous and obscure, to learn how places can either sap the life out of us--or nourish our senses and our psyche. The time has come, he says, to put emotion back at the heart of the design process, and the reasons to do so could not be more urgent. Design is not superficial: it has an impact upon economics, climate change, our mental and physical wellbeing--even the peace and cohesion of our societies. As citizens and users, we need a world full of architectural diversity that delights and unites us. And as makers and designers, we can help create a world where cities reconnect with their essential mission: to provide human spaces where people mix, meet, inspire each other, and live out their full potential. Elegantly crafted by Heatherwick's own studio, and fully illustrated with hundreds of black-and-white photos, Humanize is an urgent call-to-arms for making our world a better place for everyone to live, and provides the vision and tools for us to make it a reality.

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New York : Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc 2023
Main Author
Thomas Heatherwick (author)
First Scribner hardcover edition
Item Description
"Originally published in Great Britain in 2023 by Penguin Random House UK"--Copyright page.
Original title: Humanise : a maker's guide to building our world.
Physical Description
495 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Includes bibliographical references.
  • Part 1. Human and Inhuman Places
  • Human Places
  • The Hundred-Year Catastrophe
  • The Anatomy of a Catastrophe
  • Part 2. How the Cult of Boring Took Over the World
  • What is an Architect?
  • Meet the God of Boring
  • How to (Accidentally) Start a Cult
  • Why Does Everywhere Look Like Profit?
  • Part 3. How to Re-Humanize the World
  • Changing How We Think
  • Elephants in the Room
  • Changing What We Do
  • (Likely to be) Frequently Asked Questions
  • Letter to the Passer-by
  • Thank You
  • Sources
  • Picture Credits
  • Join the Humanize Movement
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A British designer decries the fundamental ugliness and inefficiency of so much of the modern built world. "A selfish building cares only about its ability to make profit for its owners," writes Heatherwick, "and disregards everyone else." What is worse, he believes, is the fact that buildings are downright boring, the result of repetition with a limited repertoire of tricks that once made buildings look interesting. Blame it on the likes of Le Corbusier and van der Rohe, who advocated monumental concrete blocks that cost little and could be built anywhere. Being boring is just one demerit, and bad buildings carry tremendous hidden costs, societal and environmental: They are wasteful because they are poorly built and often have to be torn down. Furthermore, "a total of 11 percent of annual global carbon emissions comes just from construction and building materials," which the author reckons to be five times the number generated by the aviation industry. Additionally, being cooped up in boring buildings contributes to a social malaise that that can lead to crime and substance abuse. Heatherwick argues that it behooves us to do something about the waste and cost involved--and to do it with urgency, inasmuch as the number of humans living in cities increases daily. The author also proposes that the architectural profession be overhauled so that architects are not conceived of as "intellectuals," but instead acquire both solid trade skills and the soulfulness of an artist who has the sensitivity to understand that, contra the modernists, "love of decoration is part of human nature." Activists, too, will appreciate the author's frequent potshots at the cult of cheapness: "Why do so many of the world's new buildings look like greed? Because the ultimate customer in our capitalist world is not the public." The book features a generous supply of photos, diagrams, and informative sidebars. A spirited, spot-on critique of a world of crumbling, cookie-cutter developments. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.