#MTGraffle [RESULT]: 5 essential books on urban sustainability

¡Hey there! With happiness brought by the spring and the restructuring of our contents, from MORE THAN GREEN we want to reward our followers raffling a pack of 5 great books which we consider essential for the study and understanding of urban sustainability. They are replete with examples, experiences and good practices. Don’t miss the opportunity to participate in our #MTGraffle!


 To participate in #MTGraffle just follow these three easy steps:

STEP 1: Subscribe to MTG newsletter at www.morethangreen.es/en [IMPORTANT: visit your spam inbox in case you don’t receive our confirmation email to subscribe to the newsletter]

STEP 2: Follow us on our social networks and share the following text in your Facebook or Twitter:

FB: Do you know More Than Green is raffling a fantastic pack of 5 books on urban #sustainability? #MTGraffle http://www.morethangreen.es/en/mtgraffle-5-essential-books-on-urban-sustainability/

TW: Do you know @more_than_green is raffling a fantastic pack of 5 books on urban #sustainability? #MTGraffle http://www.morethangreen.es/en/mtgraffle-5-essential-books-on-urban-sustainability/

You can follow us and share just on one network but if you do it in both… that would be much better!

Follow us on Facebook

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STEP 3: Leave a comment in this post including your email address (which won’t be published) to contact you in case of winning. You can comment whatever you like about sustainability, an interesting experience or urban initiative, tell us what topics you would like us to treat more, propose more books that might be interesting in order to another future raffle… anything related to urban sustainability.

You have until next Friday May 1st, 2015 at 14:00 to participate (Spanish time, GMT+1). The following day we will publish the final list of participants with their corresponding number. Two days later, on Monday May 4th, 2015 we will carry out the #MTGraffle using random.org to choose the winning number. That same day we will announce the winner in our web and networks and contact him by email.

>>>UPDATE MAY 03rd, 2015<<<

To check the final list of participants follow this link.

>>>UPDATE MAY 04th, 2015<<<

We have a winner! The prize was awarded to the number 42 which corresponding to Adriana at the list of participants that you can see in the previous paragraph. She participated on April 21st at 12:26 local time. Congratulations!

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>>>UPDATE MAY 22th, 2015<<<

Due to the impossibility to contact Adriana both by mail and by social networks, we are forced to repeat the raffle. So we already have a new winner! The prize was awarded this time to the number 50 which corresponding to Juliana at the list of participants that you can see in the first update. She participated on April 24th at 10:43 local time. Congratulations!

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Thank you very much to all for participating and following us. We hope that our content will be useful for you and we take note of the feedback received in your comments. It has been a pleasure!

Here we leave our review of each of books we are going to raffle:

sorteomtg-mtgraffle-the social life of small urban spaces book-more than green


William H. Whyte

This book was first published in 1980 and shows a research carried out by the Street Life Project group since the beginning of the 70s. This study focuses on the reasons why some New York public spaces work and why others don’t. Therefore, using observations together with time-lapse filming, they describe the factors that alter urban spaces.

Foremost among these is the existence of space to sit in the public space and its quality, the road connectivity of the area, the visual relationship between pedestrians and the urban space itself –if a public space is not visible enough, the people will end up not using it-, the existence of regulated or not regulated business activity -including the presence of performers- that provides the public space with elements which attract people, the presence of other pedestrians as a way of encouraging more people to walk around there, the case of inner public spaces in which the access is restricted, the care for the architectural heritage serve as indicator for the quality of the urban scene or the need for enhancing the urban identity as a design strategy.

The book includes two highly interesting addendums. The first one is a series of recommendations to help new observers aiming to employ the urban space filming methodology. Although some of them discuss issues that are technologically out of date/outdated, others bring forward key questions that may help to design the future urban space. For instance, the need for developing hypothesis using observation, filming, and viewing as a way of testing public spaces –previously knowing what is worth analyzing-. The filming method is especially useful for allowing an analysis at different playback speeds. The second addendum provides the New York’s normative recommendations for designing this sort of public spaces; a series of urban sustainability indicators that turned up two decades before the “boom” of the certification agencies which are currently working on this field.

sorteomtg-mtgraffle-life between buildings book-more than green


Jan Gehl

This is a classic of urban books; a must-have for your bookshelf. At the beginning of the 70s , the now called urban guru Jan Gehl presented this urban guide explaining the origins of his work – justly, what we consider that is the most interesting thing of this book. Although recent books also present Jan Gehl’s work in a more organized, documented, and completed way, they are also less authentic than the book presented here.

In 1965, this Danish architect spent six months observing, stamping, and drawing the vitality of the urban space of some Italian cities. When he went back to Copenhagen, he used this city as a field of experimentation and became one of the most important proponents of a worldwide reference in the urban sustainability.

After more than 40 years, the collection of black-and-white photographs of this book remains an explicit example that shows us how our cities must be designed –at least, the Mediterranean cities. The series of diagrams are a small/great lesson to consider when designing the public space; these diagrams are an early description of both the human activity and the typology and morphology of urban spaces of his time; it is a good example of how to use the observation of the urban life.  

Concluding, it must not be forgotten the main lessons described in this book: densify vs. disperse, integrate vs. segregate, attract vs. repel, open vs. close.

sorteomtg-mtgraffle-design like you give a damn 2 book-more than green


Deborah Aaronson

The title of this book is the mantra employed by Cameron Sinclair, one of the co-cofounders at the ONG and professional studio Architecture for Humanity — this concept of architecture may seem strange to Spanish people. Thus, this architectural professional network has already built 2,250 buildings in 2011 – the group had been founded 12 years before. According to Sinclair, more than 2 million people from more than 44 countries live, study or work in these buildings. Most part of their experience is presented on the first pages of the book in a sort of lessons. Amongst these lessons, the one described in the title stands out— given that the communities expect built results rather than models or drawings, the most important thing is to “build” the architecture. Other remarkable lessons are the relevance of sharing innovation –developing, thus, an open network in which 35,000 members have shared 7,000 projects so far- as well as their bid for designing in a creative way and being aware of the local human and material resources available. This is what we would call economic and cultural sustainability.

After presenting some examples of how to fund the development of a community, the book groups the sustainable design examples in five categories: reconstruction disasters, housing, communities, basic facilities, and policies. Therefore, the book compares “almost anonym” designs (bamboo shelters in Iran, a small church in Oaxaca, or a water supply system developed by Oxfam) to acclaimed architecture (the High Line in New York, the Vertical Gymnasium in Caracas, the Tour Bois-le Petre renovation in Paris, or the urban developments in Malmö). Together with the display of architectural projects, the book also presents interesting graphic visualizations and figures related to the five categories mentioned above.

In short, the second volume is a collection of good practices through real cases that is in line with the philosophy of More Than Green (that is what, at least, we would like to believe). This book is part of an initiative that has already taken the leap from written toward live format that already goes on its fourth edition.

sorteomtg-mtgraffle-a smart guide to utopia book-more than green

A SMART GUIDE TO UTOPIA. 111 inspiring ideas for a better city

Kati Krause

Under the title of “A SMART GUIDE TO UTOPIA” we find a collection of urban experiences classified into five groups. In this case, the groups are: live, work, eat and drink, buy, and play. Apparently, the title suggests certain similarities to the famous four functions that L.C. enunciated in the Athens Charter. However, the perspective of this book is totally different from the Athens Charter.

This publication presents a series of examples displayed in a format that is similar to a post—a brief text together with a web link in which the reader is provided with further information about the example in question. Thus, this compendium of collective experiences –such as co-working spaces, digital tools to manage the urban scene collectively, or the transformation of abandoned– is a guide that helps those wanting to share spaces, time, knowledge, food, etc. Together with this, the authors also put forward a series of extra texts and reflections expressed by citizens inhabiting inspiring cities.

After reading the book, it seems evident that, the English experiences are statistically prevailing. This phenomenon could be linked to the idea of hobby, despite the fact that some of the examples may not be defined as such. However, it could be thought that there is a sort of relationship between spending the time in a creative way and the fact that the word describing this attitude was originated in those latitudes.

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Urban Think-Tank

The last book created controversy in the XIII Architecture Biennale in Venice. The authors, Alfredo Brillenbourg and Hubert Klumpner, describe a vertical slum by using a series of photographies by Iwan Baan.

Brillenbourg and Klumpner explain how this 45-floor building, aimed to be the glamorous Centro Financiero Confianzas-, was abandoned when financial crisis hit Venezuela in 1994. The original project was promoted by Jorge David Brillembourg Ortega, authors’ cousin. A decade later, 750 families inhabit and manage the first 28 floors of the tower. According to the authors, the leader of the community is Alexander “el Niño” Daza, head of the cooperative living in the tower.

Throughout the 400 pages of the book, it is detailed how the community occupied the tower, rebuilt some installations in order to supply the new 3,000 inhabitants, installed new facilities –amongst others, a church, a basketball court or a gymnasium-, etc. Along with these, the book also describes some aspects regarding the cooperative management; in particular, the “community” rate that the inhabitants of the tower regularly pay or the internal code controlling the collective maintenance of the building.

The research was possible thanks to an agreement that, in 2011, appointed the authors as the experts who would rebuild the façade of the tower. The research project lasted a year and featured the collaboration of the community. Similarly to other books such as Hybrids or Density; the images, texts, and graphic material help to understand the vertical setup of uses and facilities.