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Order Without Design: How Markets Shape Cities

4.40  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  14 reviews
An argument that operational urban planning can be improved by the application of the tools of urban economics to the design of regulations and infrastructure.

Urban planning is a craft learned through practice. Planners make rapid decisions that have an immediate impact on the ground--the width of streets, the minimum size of land parcels, the heights of buildings. The
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published December 4th 2018 by MIT Press
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Connor Stack
Jul 16, 2019 rated it liked it
It's pretty long winded so I started skimming after the first two chapters.

Basic ideas:
- Cities are primarily labor markets. People move there for jobs and companies move there for specialized workers.
- Large cities / large labor markets are more productive. Fast face-to-face communication between specialists. Fast sharing of knowledge. Good for knowledge work, bad for space-hungry industry.
- Mobility (cheap, fast commute) make for more efficient allocation of labor (each person can choose
Gevorg Yeghikyan
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a must read for all urban planners and anyone interested in how cities actually work. Written in an extremely accessible, concise and sometimes even entertaining style, this book offers the very basics of what determines cities' size, real estate prices, welfare, and attractiveness.
Arguing for the importance of including economics as domain knowledge in urban planning through an abundance of examples from first hand experience, this book should decisively serve as an "elimination of
Michael Lewyn
Mar 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
My review of this worthwhile book is at
Paavo Karlin
Aug 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are books that have the ability to change your mind. This is one of those. For everyone even remotely interested about urban design, real estate markets or even urban history this is one of those books that are hard to put down.
Jim Milway
Nov 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
I had a bias in starting this book - unimpeded market dynamics, except where necessary, are the best forces to solve problems in our day-to-day life here on earth. In fact, many problems simply go away when supply and demand are allowed to interact to set prices and allocate resources. So, I was not disappointed with Bertaud's book. Through his years in urban planning, much of which was in the developing world, he has concluded that most urban planning exercises are about vision and dogma rather ...more
Frank Stein
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
The famed urban planner Alain Bertaud, of New York University's Marron Institute for Urban Management, tries in this book to make a mea culpa for his profession, and explain how it can be rescued. Bertaud shows that urban planners have systematically ignored or denigrated the work of urban economists, and have futilely tried to plan cities without taking markets or prices into account. The result have been stymied cities unfit for anything except a planner's notepad, where the real needs of ...more
Nov 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very thorough book about urban planning and economics. It’s quite frustrating to see how cities I’m familiar with (Amsterdam, Berlin) that are going through growth are mismanaging it so poorly that rents are skyrocketing, leading to people getting stuck into their current situations when they would be better off moving.

Some of the insightful effects:
* A lack of enough housing for the growth of a population leads to an increase in rents for all kinds of housing, as people with high incomes will
Dan Trubman
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
A worthwhile read, but one that's largely more applicable for urban policy in developing countries (unsurprisingly given the author's background). Generally, but not exclusively, Bertaud assumes that policymakers will have the ability to significantly change a wide range of policies, in a way that's obviously not true in most developed nations where the control over urban policies & finances is incredibly fragmented. Often I was frustrated by his assumption that policymakers could simply ...more
Nov 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Author's unique careers lends to unique insights, fascinating stories, and the shortcomings of central planning. Interesting read from a complex systems context, regardless of your interest in urban design. Bertaud presents and provides commentary on market forces, and design constraints on the less to more arbitrary scale. Experiences scales from underdeveloped, to the most developed parts of the world. Differences and similarities are presented in an easy to understand way.

Taking one star off,
Soemantri Rio Hassan
Oct 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am Rio from Jakarta-Indonesia in my facebook account Soemantri itz Rio Hassan you can see album named Charter Cities. Then I found Mr Romer discuss with the author Alian Bertaud.

Jakarta as a sampling Mr Alain Bertaud in six Chapter is really interesting coz now preparing to move the Cities in East Kaimantan soon. I think Mr Alain Bertaud book must read our leader in Indonesia as I did. Good Job Mr Alain Bertaud.

Best Regards
Kevin Whitaker
Aug 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: policy
Everyone gives this book rave reviews. If you're the kind of person interested in this book, you should probably listen to them and not me. It was dry and textbook-y, not what I was looking for at the time, so I really struggled to get through it.

Three things I learned:
1. Where roads developed privately (e.g. Wall Street in NYC), they don't work together well to facilitate overall accessibility
2. Housing choices are a function of floor space, quality per floor space, and location. Location in
Andrew Louis
Instead of trying to distill my feelings into a rating, I will say that this book was challenging, sometimes infuriating, but probably worth reading. Like most libertarian thinking, there's an emphasis on ideal/rational equilibriums without much consideration for the political pathways required to attain them.
Vipin Sharma
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Really great book with counter-intuitive insights (to begin with)about cities and urban planning which now seem so obvious to me after reading this book.
Definitely going in my "to be reread" list.
Highly Recommended.
Oct 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
There is no computable optimum, only choices. Without data, anyone who does anything is free to claim success.
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“I want to make it clear that I am not implying here that all housing issues can be solved through market solutions. Many cases of homelessness, for instance, particularly in affluent cities, stem from social welfare policies and require and immediate government action. It is important from the beginning to clearly separate emergency social welfare from housing policy. Too often, housing policy is conceived as an extension of social welfare applied to the middle class.
In every large city, a small number of households - some may be one-person households - are unable to pay for their housing. They end up in the streets. These households may be permanently or temporarily disabled - physically or mentally - or may have experienced bad luck that results in long unemployment periods. It is certainly the duty of the government to provide a shelter for them as an emergency service. Once in an emergency shelter, social workers can identify those who are likely to be permanently unable to earn an income and then direct them toward a social housing shelter, where specialized staff will follow up on their case. Other homeless households may need only temporary help to find a job and a house they can afford before they rejoin the city's active population. The provision of homeless shelters is not part of housing policy, as it has little to do with supply and demand.”
“The standard urban model has shown us that the price of land in large cities is similar to the gravity field of large planets that decreases with distance at a predictable rate. Ignoring land prices when designing cities is like ignoring gravity when designing an airplane.” 0 likes
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