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“The City at Eye Level – Lessons for Street Plinths: Second and Extended Version” (Language: English). Purchase on Shopify for €35 (excluding shipping costs)

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Below you can find the download option for the book. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

 


Background information

In early 2012, we started the project that would become The City at Eye Level: Lessons for Street Plinths, a book that was published by the end of that year. The word “plinth” was new to many readers. In Dutch the “plint” means baseboard, but also describes the ground floor of a building. We sought collective answers to the question:

How can we create a user-friendly ground-level that is flexible for years to come, adaptive for multiple uses, pleasing to the eye, and all with little financial resources? Using our own expertise on the topic, and that of our network, it quickly became an opensource project with more than 40 contributing authors and many international examples. After publishing the book and launching the website we received many positive reactions. But the story continues.

That first book focused on plinths in the city: the ground floors that negotiate between the inside and the outside, between the public and the private. After conducting “plinth games” in Stockholm and Amsterdam, and further “public development” projects like ZOHO Rotterdam, we continued to refine the story. It’s now very clear that plinths are only one part of the story. What we now prioritize is the human scale: the true city at eye level. Moving beyond the plinths, we include not only physical components like the fa.ade, building, sidewalk, street, bikeways, trees—but also the emotional and social aspects. What makes a space a place to be and a place to linger? And more importantly, who? This updated and revised edition makes a better attempt at telling the whole story.

As the city evolves, so does the field of urban planning. In all of our current projects, we rely very little on our formal training in planning. After all, we are no longer planning cities—we are reinventing, reusing, and living within them. Our most meaningful, high-impact projects are founded on the principles of co-creation and depend on experimental, bottom-up initiatives, temporary use, user- and place-based strategies, and DIY urbanism. For us, co-creation is at the heart of generating long-term effects. Who is at the table, what networks are we using, what assets do we have to share, what tools can we use? As partnership patterns are changing and local/regional municipalities no longer have a stronghold, around the table we see various user groups, community members, property owners, developers, entrepreneurs and public/private industries. Often, like many co-authors in the book, we operate as “public developer”: we then take the initiative ourselves, in a collaborative spirit, to develop public space qualities in our cities. This book tries to capture the various groups and share their stories as well.