Hardcover216 PagesSize: 250 × 190 mm
100 B&W illustrations and 50 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781848222588Publication: January 20, 2020

'Hagan's work is cleanly presented and a recommended book both for studying and browsing.' – Darryl Chen, The London Society

'This timely and wide-ranging book provides invaluable insights into the procurement and design of successful public spaces.' – Peter Murray, Curator-in-chief, New London Architecture

'Circumspect in its observations and objective in its criticism, it makes an invaluable contribution to our understanding of why, how, and by whom public space is created.' – Bob Allies, Allies and Morrison architects

Designing London’s Public Spaces

Post-war and Now

By Susannah Hagan



  • The first book to look at London’s public spaces from the point of view of the designers who created them rather than the people who use them
  • Eight illustrated case studies, four post-war and four contemporary, show how these public spaces came about, why they succeeded or failed, and why their success matters
  • Includes frank interviews with prominent developers, planners, and designers including Allies and Morrison, muf, Townshend Landscape Architecture

Those involved in the creation of public spaces think a great deal about the users of those spaces. Users think little, if at all, about those who create them. There are many: planners, developers, investors, contractors, special-interest groups, governments from local to national, and above all in this book, designers. The complex sets of relationships in which the designer is enmeshed remain largely unknown, as does the effect of those relationships on the public spaces they design.

In ‘super-diverse’ cities like London, a successful public realm, where people can be together in trust and tolerance, is essential. A city’s commitment to design quality indicates a commitment to civic health. In the interests of such commitment, the book asks: What should public space ‘design intentions’ be today?; Who is ‘the public’ of public spaces?; What can/should designers do to protect the ‘publicness’ of public spaces?; Was state financed public space mid-20th century of any higher quality than privately financed public space today?; How significant is the shift from commissioning architects to design public spaces mid-20th century to commissioning landscape architects and public realm architects today?; Does emptiness in public spaces have a value?; Does retail in public spaces narrow the range of people visiting them?

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