Book review: The Temporary City
January 31, 2012
The Temporary City by Peter Bishop and Lesley Williams
Published by Routledge, January 2012
The Temporary City is a welcome addition to the literature on planning and regeneration – whilst written independently of the recent Mary Portas review of Britain’s high streets, the book deals, from a different direction, with many similar issues affecting our cities. Coming from authors with a practical grounding in the issues of design, planning and delivery it is a particularly valuable and informed contribution to the debate on the future of our cities.
The book questions the need for permanent uses and solutions for sites and argues that we need to increasingly look for short and medium term uses, rather than obsess about the long term; realistically it will take a long time for the economy to achieve stable and meaningful growth and for sites to become viable again – especially with what was paid for many sites at the market peak – and in the meantime these same sites will lie vacant for many years without an effective framework for their interim use.
So if ‘temporary is the new permanent’ then we need to share experience on what makes these ad hoc uses work. As well as the views and opinions expressed in the book, the choice of case studies are well selected and informative and demonstrate what can be achieved with foresight and pragmatism. They show that we can learn much from overseas, where temporary uses are more often celebrated.