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Level –1
Book by Lisa Baker
Braun (hardcover, 192 pages)

During the early 1900s rollout of the Paris Métro, Hector Guimard changed the way the world viewed mass transportation with his iconic art nouveau entrances. Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera House, predicted his fashion-forward city would never accept an urban network that was simply utilitarian by design: it must be a work of art. Today, millions still pass through Guimard’s curving iron gates each day.

Level –1 shows how far the idea has come via 41 examples of contemporary subway station design, including over a dozen in Germany alone, where the country’s famous efficiency is reflected in such stunning stations as Haid + Partners’ elliptical Kaulbachplatz in Nuremberg. Toronto’s archaeology-inspired Museum Station (revamped in 2008 by Diamond Schmitt) and Sweco Architects’ geodesic Triangeln in Malmö are also in the mix. After more than a century of fossil-fuel-driven gridlock, examples like these illustrate the impact cities can have if they follow Guimard’s lead and embrace enticing public transportation. By Erin Donnelly

Pod Off-Grid
Book by Jason Pomeroy
ORO Editions (softcover, 208 pages)

With the world’s population expected to exceed 9.7 billion by the year 2050, the time to rethink how – and perhaps more importantly, where – we live, is now. For Singapore architect Jason Pomeroy, this means looking to the two-thirds of the earth’s surface covered by water. Pomeroy – known for his forward-thinking approach to zero-carbon, land-based developments (including Idea House in Malaysia, Asia’s first carbon-neutral residence) – has turned his attention to completely waterborne communities, or POGs.

He outlines his Pod Off-Grid methodology in easy-to-digest essays, with sketches, renderings and photography of projects from his own built portfolio, such as Lexis Hibiscus, a floating resort rooted off the coast of western Malaysia. He also includes five student-workshop case studies aimed at equipping Venice with novel retail, agriculture and mixed-use strategies – tools it can use to move into the 21st century. As cities near maximum capacity, Pomeroy’s argument for migrating from land to sea has never felt more compelling. By Kendra Jackson

Rise and Sprawl
Book by Hans Ibelings and Alexander Josephson
Architecture Observer (softcover, 128 pages)

“The condo tower isn’t primarily an architectural construction or a tool for building cities,” says Rise and Sprawl co-author Hans Ibelings, “but first and foremost a financial instrument.” As the authors of this rather pointed look at the rapid growth of Toronto note, the city’s downtown population grew by 18 per cent between 2006 and 2014 – the kind of boom that marks a do-or-die moment in any city’s history. The condo towers rising to house the city’s growing numbers constitute a vernacular of blandness, as Torontonians can easily intuit, but here the point is amply supported by documentation that ranges from glib marketing materials and drab colour palettes to drawings of 44 new towers and 72 unit floor plans that share an uncanny similarity.

Rise and Sprawl takes aim not at Toronto’s architects, but at its developers: what follows this compilation of evidence is a manifesto imploring the powers that be to see design not as a feature tacked on at the end of an assembly line, but as an integral tool for addressing a growing city’s social needs. By David Dick-Agnew

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