Classics
old books

Over the years writers have contributed works of enduring value and influence to the literature of urban design. Some texts continue to feature on reading lists and bibliographies, although they may be out of print and unavailable for purchase. Other more recent publications can be identified as modern classics which will have relevance for years to come.

RUDI has acquired the rights to re-publish several of these works on the RUDI site, in whole or in part, and will pursue its policy of re-publishing classic texts whenever possible. Please contact us if there are classic texts that you would like to see on RUDI.

Please browse below the taster pages for the classics currently on RUDI and click on the hyperlink to get the full details.

Life Between Buildings

By Jan Gehl

This is a book of quite exceptional importance for those who wish to deepen their understanding of the purposes of community planning and architecture.

Making people friendly towns

By Francis Tibbalds

Francis Tibbalds was an architect and town planner with over thirty years' experience in both the private and public sectors until his death in January 1992. He was founding Chairman of the Urban Design Group (1979) and President of the Royal Town Planning Institute (1988).

His philosophical approach to the problems facing our towns and cities shows clearly how the individual components that make up the built environment matter less than places as a whole. This informative book suggests the way forward for professionals, decision-makers and all those who care about the future of our urban environment, revealing to the reader a wealth of thriving examples of successful town planning.

This electronic version of some parts of the 2000 edition was created by RUDI in January 2001.

Design Briefing in Towns

By Drew Mackie, Alastair Methven, Percy Johnson-Marshall Associates, Edinburgh, Scotland

A classic example of design guidance prepared for the Urban Design Unit of The Scottish Development Dept. in 1978. Also Introduction by Professor John Punter. Published on RUDI on February 7, 1999.

A City is not a Tree

By Christopher Alexander

This article has become one of the classic references in the literature of the built environment and associated fields. Alexander argues that the hallmark of designed cities (Mesa City, Brasilia) is that their builders invariably gravitate to tree-structures, where all sub-units of a similar type roll-up into a single super-unit, creating an artificial and ultimately damaging simplification. He contrasts this with the structure of organic cites (London, NYC), which are organized as semi-lattices, where overlap and shared function is the order of the day.

Whenever we have a tree structure, it means that within this structure no piece of any unit is ever connected to other units, except through the medium of that unit as a whole.