Home » Books »Featured »Planning & Design » Currently Reading:

Reading: Touching the City: Thoughts on Urban Scale by Timothy Makower

March 25, 2016 Books, Featured, Planning & Design No Comments

One of the things that attracted me to St. Louis, when passing through in 1990, was the urban scale. Scale is a great differentiator from suburbia. Touching the City: Thoughts on Urban Scale by Timothy Makower takes an in-depth look into the subject — the “experience of size”, the “spaces between buildings”.

The publisher’s description:

Scale in cities is relative and absolute. It has the ability to make us feel at home in the world or alien from it; connected or disconnected. Both large and small scale in cities can be beautiful; both are right, neither is wrong. Whilst accepting that prescription is no answer, ‘getting the scale right’ – at an intuitive and sensual level – is a fundamental part of the magic of architecture and urban design. Touching the City explores how scale is manifested in cities, exploring scale in buildings, in the space between them and in their details. It asks how scale makes a difference. Travelling from Detroit to Chandigarh, via New York, London, Paris, Rome and Doha, Tim Makower explores cities with the analytical eye of a designer and with the experiential eye of the urban dweller. Looking at historic cities, he asks what is good about them: what can we learn from the old to inform the new? The book zooms in from the macro scale of surfing Google Earth to micro moments such as finding fossils in a weathered wall. It examines the dynamics and movement patterns of cities, the making of streets and skylines, the formation of thresholds and facades, and it also touches on the process of design and the importance of drawing. As the book’s title, Touching the City, suggests, it also emphasises the tactile – that the city is indeed something physical, something we can touch and be touched by, alive and ever changing.

Here’s the Table of Contents:

  • AcknowledgementsForeword: Scaling the XXL – Kees Christiaanse
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: On Scale and Size
  • Chapter 2: On Scale and Movement
  • Chapter 3: On Scale and Edges
  • Chapter 4: On Scale and Grain
  • Chapter 5: On Scale and Form
  • Chapter 6: On Scale, Skeletons and Surface
  • Chapter 7: On Scale and Detail
  • Conclusion: From Nature

As you can see, there are many aspects when examining scale.

— Steve Patterson


Comment on this Article: