Shaping the City book

51mYvrEVvUL._SS500_Birmingham: Shaping the City is a new book published by RIBA about our fair city written by Ben Flatman after years of research. The photographic editor was Craig Holmes who took photos at the launch night. Here’s the blurb:

“Birmingham: Shaping the City” is an authoritative and objective assessment of the redevelopment and regeneration of Birmingham. It tells the story of how Joseph Chamberlain’s grand Victorian city was almost obliterated due to an infatuation with the car and how a belated but vital reassessment took place at his home, Highbury in 1988, leading to arguably the most dramatic transformation of any city in the country. It is also the story of hugely ambitious projects, often implemented in the face of great opposition, driven by a rediscovery of Chamberlain’s unique brand of city entrepreneurialism.The book seeks to identify the drivers for change in the renaissance of contemporary Birmingham following its evolution from Victorian times and explores the depth and complexity of the public-private partnerships involved in the delivery structures and their achievements. Using unique case studies that illustrate the processes involved in the major physical change of the city, it assesses their influence on planned future projects. The book articulates and stresses the importance of urban design for successful regeneration in this ever-changing city.

“Birmingham: Shaping the City” will make a lasting contribution to city’s collective consciousness and make available, for the first time, a coherent narrative of where the city has come from and where it may be going in both a written and visual form.

While the credentials of the contributors are impeccable I’d be interested to hear what others think of it. Available soon from Amazon and presumably in the RIBA bookshop on Margaret St.


  1. David Webster

    An interesting book but with some obvious drawbacks – why are there so few plans for instance? However, this said, the book makes a useful contribution to the Birmingham architectural scene. Currently there are very few publications dealing with the dramatic changes within the city and here some of the major issues and challenges are addressed in a frank and honest way. The photography is beautiful, leading a friend of mine to ask “do I know this city?” while the text itself often takes a more critical standpoint.

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