Humanize: A Maker's Guide to Designing Our Cities (Hardcover)
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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.
About the Author
Thomas Heatherwick is one of the world’s most renowned designers, whose varied work over three decades is characterized by its originality, inventiveness, and humanity. Led by human experience rather than any fixed dogma, Heatherwick Studio creates emotionally compelling places and objects with a small climate shadow. Heatherwick’s team is currently working on over thirty projects in ten countries, including Azabudai Hills, a 8.1-hectare mixed-use development in the center of Tokyo, the new headquarters for Google in London, and Airo, an electric car that cleans the air as it drives. The studio has also recently completed Bay View, Google’s first ground-up campus; Little Island, a park and performance space on the Hudson River in New York City; and Coal Drops Yard, a major new retail district in King’s Cross, London.
The new Leonardo of design.”
“Humanize is a masterwork. It's quietly furious, impassioned, rigorous and forensic in all the right doses. It leaves me very hopeful indeed about how things could go from here. The Age of Boring might just have ended right now.”
—Alain de Botton, author of The Architecture of Happiness and The Course of Love
“A spirited, spot-on critique of a world of crumbling, cookie-cutter developments.” —Kirkus
“Thomas Heatherwick brings a velvet sledgehammer to the way we think about buildings and how they change our lives. In simple, elegant words, he demands that we put people first. Not developers, politicians or architects. I want to live in the kind of city Heatherwick imagines! Vive la révolution!”
—Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why
“This book will help frustrated ordinary people and communities see what is possible.”
—David Byrne, artist and former lead singer of Talking Heads
“Thomas’ humanity-centered imagination is brought to life through his buildings and designs. He challenges us all to see the world differently, in harmony with nature, for the better. Humanize is a look behind the scenes and into the mind of his creative genius.”
—Tony Fadell, New York Times bestselling author of Build, iPod inventor, and Nest founder
“Humanize offers us a powerful prescription for buildings that put the public first and help set the course for a brighter future for humanity.”
—Michael Bloomberg, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and former Mayor of New York City
“Humanize ignites the urgent public conversation I’ve been calling for for years.”
—Sir Terry Farrell, architect and urbanist
Humanize argues that we must bring public value and joy back to the world of architecture.”
—Mariana Mazzucato, economist and author of Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism
“What makes Thomas Heatherwick’s Humanize different from most other polemics about architecture is that it is driven by the idea that every building has a public presence, and that the duty of architecture is to bring joy to all of us, not just profit to its owners. His response to the modernist trope “form follows function” is to remind us that human emotion is a critical function, too—and that the best way to achieve it is to be sure every building has what he calls, in a lovely turn of phrase, “necessary visual complexity.”
—Paul Goldberger, author, architecture critic and New Yorker Sky Line columnist
“A social and economic tour de force.”
—Mark Carney, economist and former Governor of the Bank of England
“The climate crisis, a post-pandemic era and war. All these issues that the world is facing require unprecedented approaches in art, architecture and design. Humanize transcends all borders, cultures and fields of expertise. This book maintains an exquisite balance between quantitative evidence, architectural history, ideals and reality. It urges all of us on this planet to celebrate life.”
—Mami Kataoka, Director of the Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
“Inspiring, enlightening and provocative, Humanize arms us with a new way of seeing our built environment, and makes explicit what’s at stake if we blindly accept the status quo.”
—Noreena Hertz, author of The Lonely Century: A Call to Reconnect
“A book that will change how you see the world.”
—Simon Jenkins, author of England's 1000 Best Churches
“Thomas Heatherwick echoes many things I find myself saying as I travel round the country. How the hell did that monstrosity get built? Why is this place so depressing? Why is so much of the built environment so boring? This book will wind up quite a few architects, planners and developers who labour under the delusion that they are the adults in the room. Good. These people need to develop some compassion for the people who have to live with their joyless, bland, unlovable creations. This book is a super accessible guide as to why we shouldn’t put up with soulless buildings and how we might change that.”
—Grayson Perry, author of The Descent of Man
“Iconoclastic – everyone should read this.”
—Dame Sally Davies, UK Special Envoy on Antimicrobial Resistance