LIVING IN THE ENDLESS CITY – New Report Reveals the Dynamics of the 21st Century City.

A new book coming from The Urban Age Project  and the team from the London School of Economics that brought us the Endless City 

“The last decade has witnessed a major international re-evaluation of the importance of cities. With their rigorous studies of world cities like Istanbul, Mumbai and Sao Paulo, the editors Ricky Burdett and Deyan Sudjic have been at the forefront of this change. Living in the Endless City is a brilliant analysis of the social and political problems we face today and the importance that design plays in making cities more liveable. Read it now” Richard Rogers, Architect 

Combining smart writing, remarkable photographs and incisive research conducted by the Urban Age Project, Living in the Endless City is an investigation into the physical  and social aspects of the modern urban condition, written by esteemed thinkers from  all around the globe, under the leadership of Ricky Burdett of the London School of Economics and Deyan Sudjic of the Design Museum, London. With reports and data on vital themes including security, climate change, density and globalization, Living in the Endless City focuses on three of the most vibrant and fastest growing mega-cities in the world; Mumbai, India’s economic powerhouse known as the ‘Maximum City’; São Paulo, Brazil’s most populous and dynamic city; and Istanbul, Europe’s largest city and one of the most resilient urban economies in the world.

Living in the Endless City incorporates a wealth of research and analysis which has emerged from a sequence of conferences held by the Urban Age Project (organised by the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society) for influential figures in the field of urban development – such as mayors, planners,architects, scientists and community groups – to study the growing, and in some cases shrinking, cities of the twenty-first century. 

Clearly organised into separate sections for each city, the book makes detailed scholarly reporting accessible. Striking images of each city accompany the discussions presented in the text providing a visual, as well as an intellectual journey into the heart of the cities. The Data section later in the book compares and contrasts the three cities with the six from The Endless City (Phaidon, 2008): Berlin, Johannesburg, London, Mexico City, New York and Shanghai.

50% of the world’s population currently live in cities. 

By 2050 it will be 75%.

But why cities, and why now? To put it very simply, cities, and their design, matter. With half of the seven billion people on earth living in cities, a substantial proportion of global GDP will be invested in energy and resources to accommodate new city dwellers over the next decades. The cities of the twenty-first century will see new waves of urban construction, and the shape of our cities will have profound impacts on the ecological balance of the planet, and on the human conditions of people growing up and growing old in cities.

Living in the Endless City sets out to address pressing issues by asking questions city dwellers rarely, if ever, consider themselves. Why are so many cities continuing to grow? What is the complex relationship between urban form and city life? How can we intervene at all levels to bring about positive change? Has the model for the western city become redundant in the face of globalization?

33% of city dwellers currently live in slums. 

By 2050 half of the world’s population will live in slums.

The investigations of the Urban Age Project have found that cities are becoming more spatially fragmented, more socially divisive and more environmentally destructive. These are the challenges and threats faced by the next generation of urban leaders who are tasked with steering their cities through what will be complex and difficult times. But, the narratives also suggest that cities are uniquely placed to harness their human and environmental potential, guiding urban growth towards greater social and environmental equity. This will be the main task for the mayors, governors and city leaders of the emerging cities of the future.


The book is divided into three sections: ‘Cities’ contains visual essays and analytic texts which mirror the content of Urban Age conferences held in the three core cities from 2007 to 2009; ‘Data’ is a compendium of vital statistics of all nine Urban Age cities, accompanied by a critical narrative and the results of opinion polls carried out among local residents; ‘Reflections’ collects the thoughts of scholars and practitioners who have followed our project, offering their perspectives on the lessons learnt for the twenty-first-century city.

The Urban Age Project

Urban Age is an investigation into the future of cities organised by the London School of Economics and Political Science with Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society. This investigation extends across continents with an international and interdisciplinary network of national and local policy makers, academic experts and urban practitioners. Urban Age aims to heighten awareness of the links between physical form and the social characteristics of cities. Research has focused on New York City, Shanghai, London, Mexico City, Johannesburg, Berlin, Mumbai, São Paulo and Istanbul.

London School of Economics and Political Science

As an international centre of excellence, the LSE has a long-standing commitment to an innovative understanding of urban society. LSE Cities, an international centre supported by Deutsche bank, carries out research, education, outreach and advisory activities in the urban field. The centre builds on the interdisciplinary work of Urban Age, studying how the built environment has profound consequences on the shape of  society in an increasingly urbanised world where over 50% of people live in cities.

Deutsche Bank’s Alfred Herrhausen Society

A centre of independent thinking that seeks to identify traces of the future in the present, and thereby raise public awareness of the directions in which society is moving. Through its broad range of activities, the Alfred Herrhausen Society analyses the critical issues, the need for reform and trends in international civil society, and initiates debates on proactive and reactive response options. At its core lies the belief that the immense and complex problems confronting today’s society are blind to national borders and that solutions can be sought only through cross-border dialogue.

About the Editors

Ricky Burdett is Director of LSE Cities and Urban Age and Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics. He has been adviser on architecture to the Mayor of London, the BBC, Tate, and to the London Olympics. He was also Director of the 2006 Venice Architectural Biennale.

Deyan Sudjic is Director of the Design Museum, London and a former Dean of the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University. He was previously editor of Blueprint and Domus magazines, and Director of ‘Glasgow 1999: UK City of Architecture and Design’ and the 2002 Venice Architectural Biennale. Former architecture critic for the Observer, he has written several books, including The 100 Mile City (1992), and John Pawson: Themes and Projects, John Pawson Works and Future Systems, published by Phaidon.

Title Information

Title Living in the Endless City

Contributors Ricky Burdett, Deyan Sudjic, Asu Aksoy, Alejandro Aravena,

Sophie Body-Gendrot, Teresa Caldeira, Fabio Casiroli, Charles

Correa, Darryl D’Monte, Fernando de Mello Franco, Gerald  Frug, Gareth Jones, Adam Kaasa, Ömer Kanıpak, Bruce Katz, Çağlar Keyder, Jeroen Klink, Raul Juste Lores, José de Souza Martins, Justin McGuirk, Rahul Mehrotra, Suketu Mehta, Wolfgang Nowak, Philipp Rode, Marcos Rosa, Hashim Sarkis, Saskia Sassen, David Satterthwaite, Richard Sennett, Priya Shankar, K. C. Sivaramakrishnan, Nicholas Stern, İlhan Tekeli

ISBN 978 0 7148 6118 0

Extent 512pp

Retail Price £39.95

Binding Hardback

Publication Date June 2011

Illustrations 500 colour illustrations

Size 245 x 210 mm

3 thoughts on “LIVING IN THE ENDLESS CITY – New Report Reveals the Dynamics of the 21st Century City.

  1. hwaa says:

    The question is asked: But why cities, and why now?
    I say yes now, but from a sustainability point of view. Having lived in and outside of cities, and being a counsellor, over the years, cities need to be ruralised?
    Lovers of city life will not appreciate what I have to say, and it is this. The very nature of cities is a depersonalized one that estranges people from people, and individuals from themselves –because of this the very sense of belonging that everyone yearns for is marginalized, marginalized the overwhelming reality of the culture of city life which demands a limited perspective of how to live. It leaves little room for belonging to self, and demands that people behave and think along what becomes stereotypical lines, and as such increases the risk of mental ill health. People who are going through whatever psychological/emotional crisis are more likely to recover in smaller communities where there is more familiarity, and a greater sense of belonging. Not only that, they have a greater sense of themselves and what they have to offer, rather the limited demands of a city which ‘cultures’ a certain lifestyle, and imposes a narrow self perception. For this reason, there are far too many lonely people in the context of a condensed population.
    City life also estranges children from their own natural development, because in order to survive in any city, as a parent one is compelled to ‘perform’ socially (in the world of adults), and publicly (in the world of work). Childhood is marginalized, as their present needs are lost in the battle of their futures parents present to them so that they may be employed to become a part of the main workforce. This is an underlying factor as to why adolescence, especially for boys can be a traumatic experience in the city, and one that influences the direction of their lives unless they are able to rise above that eventually. The concept of the ‘angst of youth’ is but a product of city life, along with the increased risk of suicides, drugs and other forms of escapism.
    The global economic crisis has highlighted how unsustainable city life is, as the options to provide for one’s self and one’s family is limited when one becomes unemployed. If one is fortunate, and owns a home (no mortgage) then all one has to worry about is are the electric, water, heating etc bills, and of course food. The soaring price of food has enabled some creativity if one can ‘create’ a plot of land to grow food from, but without that what little income one has is dominated by the food bill. This in turn brings us to social security/welfare, which increasingly is an unsustainable budget, as well as health care, and education. Without the tradition of self employment in fields that are always in demand regardless of the economic situation, the amorphous reality of the global economic crisis challenges the whole concept of lifestyle as shaped by city life.
    Then there is the whole problem with energy supply. By the very concrete nature of cities, they demand too much energy to stay warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. The concrete buildings entrap the ultra-violet rays from the sun, and entrap the pollution spewed out by industry and transportation. As such the whole process of getting to and from work devours time that could be spent being ones’ self , being with family and friends, and the whole mode of city life engenders the donning of false identities in order to be accepted, and the accompanying stress levels dictate the state of one’s health physiologically, and psychologically.
    It therefore becomes incumbent upon the town planner with a conscience, to restructure city life so that expansion is out of the question, to decentralize areas of employment, to expand areas of creativity especially opportunities for urban agriculture in the interest of families, and yet able to contribute to the general food supply, to increase natural plays areas, and public areas of relaxation as opposed to entertainment, to build homes and businesses that can contribute to the national grid in terms of electricity supply, and to make public transport the preferred choice because it is clean efficient and has a good network accessing everywhere. On other words it becomes incumbent on the town planners to make cities a more human place to live.

    • Urban Choreography says:

      Hi Hwaa, I could not agree with you more both about the effect of city life on people as well as the other problems you detail about our social life and cities, as to the solution – in my opinion, there is no one solution, but as planners and designers we are attempting to make cities more habitable and humane places as you comment in the last paragraph as well as make the interaction between the city and its ‘footprint’ more equatable to those in the rural situations who provide us with our needs.

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