Sunday, October 28, 2007

Cities in Transition: Transforming the Global Built Environment, Tasleem Shakur (editor)

Cities in Transition: Transforming the Global Built Environment
Tasleem Shakur (editor)

Open House Press, Cheshire, United Kingdom
ISBN 0-9544463-1-3

Excerpts from a Review by E. El-Nachar and R. Salama in the upcoming edition of Archnet-IJAR: International Journal of Architectural Research, 1 (3), November 2007
In 1963, Constantinos Doxiades wrote his excellent piece titled "Architecture in Transition" in which he referred to the transformations architecture and human settlements were witnessing while critically offering some form of cross cultural comparisons of project cases in both developed and developing contexts. Seven years later, Ernes Erber introduced his arguments to the planning community by assembling a collection of research and position papers under one theme titled "Urban Planning in Transition," an amalgam that was responsive to the demands placed in the urban planning profession by socio-economic systems and the local politics involved. In 2005, Tasleem Shakur shines on the global community of architects, planners, and decision makers, and introduces a marvelous collection of essays that reflect the spirit and mandates of the present era. In the view of the reviewers, the work of Tasleem Shakur complements the triad started by Doxiades and Erber.

To account for the influences of globalization on architecture, planning and the built environment, Shakur’s Cities in Transition: Transforming the Global Built Environment, published by Open House Press in 2005, adds greatly to the literature on architecture and planning in the developing world. This book is particularly aimed at both undergraduate and post-graduate students pursuing their studies in the fields of urban geography; architecture and town planning; social and cultural geography; and urban planning and design. As well, academics, practitioners, and decision makers are important targeted readers of this timely contribution.

Examining recent literature on the impacts of globalization one tends to see two opposing views of its impacts on the global built environment, negative and positive. The positive view looks at globalization in terms of increasing transnational movement of capital, goods, and people, closer ties between countries via new communication technologies, while a growing awareness of risks and dangers that threaten the world as whole takes place. The negative view adopts the position that globalization is simply representing a cultural invasion or a symbolic rape, or at best an economically driven process whereby economics, politics, and culture of one country penetrate other countries. The beauty of this book lies in the fact that it maintains a balanced view where "global," "sustainable," "north-south" terms are seen in an objective manner, with an implicit meaning that pertains to the rapid turnover of ideas, images, patterns, and objects of consumption.

The title of this book, Cities in Transition: Transforming the Global Built Environment incites a new form of curiosity and interest in the continuing changes in the built environment. It implies that there is in fact a sort of revolution occurring within the global built environment causing some major alterations and adjustments to many cities across the globe. Consequently, the title sums up how the book captures snapshots of the ever-transforming built environment in developing and developed cities in countries including: Oman, Kuwait, China, Britain, Mexico, Algeria, Egypt, Cuba, India, South Africa, Pakistan, Turkey, and the Netherlands.....

Archnet-IJAR , an online refereed scholary journal edited by Professor Ashraf M. Salama and is published and archived by ARCHNET, the most comprehensive online community for architects, planners, urban designers, interior designers, landscape architects, and scholars working in these fields, developed at the MIT School of Architecture and Planning in close cooperation with, and with the full support of The Aga Khan Trust for Culture, an agency of the Aga Khan Development Network.
Architecture-Urbanism is dedicated to a) those who are interested in creating livable and sustainable environments and buildings that meet socio-cultural and socio-behavioral needs of people, environments that are responsive to historical, traditional and physical constraints, b) to those who are interested in finding panacea for the ills of our globalized world, and c) to those who are interested in regaining what cultures and societies have lost by the acts of architects. ____________________________________________________________________________