So you’re interested in what you can read to become a better designer, architect, urban planner, urbanist, or neighbour living and working in a super-divers city? We’ve asked our DCFA-fellow Lyongo Juliana to name his favourite must-reads books. For all you city designers that want to empower yourself (and others), let these reads guide your practice of transforming cities for the better. And guess what? You can order these books with a pretty neat discount* via our local bookstore Athenaeum!


Soft City is the story of how to build denser and more diverse places that enhances the everyday life of people. Lyongo: “If you want to design cities for all people, you need to know how to create urban space for people. In a very pragmatic and accessible way, this book provides insight into which themes you should at least include in your design process to achieve this goal. Because of David Sim’s strong observations on how people move and interact in the city, this book inspires you to become a better observer yourself, and the more consciously you observe with taking your prejudices into account, you slowly but surely will gain insights that will assist you in creating cities for all people.”

€ 34,99 (Order here, use code DCFA2122 for 10% discount)

In Van Wie is de Stad?, Floor Milikowski paints a compelling portrait of Amsterdam at the beginning of the 21st century with a growing population, the emergence of real estate traders and large international chains, and a housing market that makes Amsterdam unaffordable to middle incomes. Who owns the city? Lyongo: “Floor’s book provides a good overview of the playing field in which urban space is created in Amsterdam, both historically and within the current context. By gaining a basic understanding of how the current balance of power within the playing field of urban development in Amsterdam is created, it is easier to find out which buttons to turn to keep Amsterdam as a city for all Amsterdammers.”

€ 17,99 (Order here)

Mijn Ontelbare Identiteiten is a reflection on the changing way of dealing with the ‘other’ in the Netherlands and a story about what it is like growing up in this country as a child of migrants. Reflecting on loyalty, displacement, and especially the search for a home, Sinan Çankaya takes a turn against defined identities and refuses to tell a story that stays within the confines of his own body. Lyongo: “Drawn from his personal story as the son of migrants, Sinan shows us from an anthropological analysis how deeply rooted prejudice and racism are in Dutch society. It is a clear, comprehensive story that some would rather not hear.”

€ 19,99 (Order here)

Witnessing the changes in his own neighbourhood Amsterdam-Noord, Massih Hutak started researching how gentrification works and ways cities can grow with old and new residents living together – because the city must be a place for everyone. Upgrading the neighbourhood shouldn’t go at the expense of old residents. Lyongo: “Massih shows what gentrification means to longtime residents and to people who don’t always have the freedom of choice to live where they want. They created their homes in residential areas, and now these places are becoming quite popular to live, people get worried whether they still feel welcome in their neighbourhood.”

€ 22,99 (Order here)

The first question is always: ‘where are you from?’, followed by: ‘but where do you réally come from?’. Every Dutch person who apparently does not ‘look Dutch’ will recognise these questions. Who belongs in this country and who does not? And why has the conversation about this become so awkward and even derailed? Lyongo: “If you have no clue of how diverse the Dutch identity is, this book by Robert Vuijsje with hundred collected stories of Dutch people about their origins and what role it plays in their daily lives gives you a first-handed sneak preview of what there is still to discover in Dutch culture.”

€ 22,99 (Order here)

*) With code DCFA2122 you get a 10% discount at Athenaeum Bookstore on non-Dutch publications. Use the order links to be referred to the shop.