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 Dark Matter Labs to name their 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!

In The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity, Toby Ord explores the science behind the risks like climate change, pandemics, unaligned artificial intelligence and puts them in the context of the greater story of humanity. Dark Matter Labs selected this book for the DCFA Book Club. Want your own copy? You can order it at a 10% discount!

€ 15,99 (order here*)

The Ministry for the Future is a novel by American science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson. Set in the near future, the novel follows a subsidiary body, established under the Paris Agreement, whose mission is to advocate for the world’s future generations of citizens as if their rights are as valid as the present generations’. While they pursue various ambitious projects, the effects of climate change are determined to be the most consequential. Dark Matter Labs: “Science fiction may seem an odd choice for a reading list from us, but we see its ability to open up our imagination of possible futures as a key tool for coming to terms with uncertainty and risk, and of enabling creative long-term design thinking.”

€ 19,99 (order here*)

Authors of Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society Erik Posner and Glen Wyl believe that wealthy countries are at a moment of fundamental crisis that threatens the legitimacy and stability of our values and institutions. Unless we can inspire a new generation with a productive vision for the future, the coming years hold great peril for wealthy societies. Dark Matter Labs: “Whether you agree or disagree with the propositions of Erik and Glen, the fact is that we need to see our markets and institutions as the object of intentional design. This book shakes up a whole lot of tired assumptions and forces us to reflect and be bold about what is possible, for what kind of impact.”

€ 19,99 (order here*)

Capital is the defining feature of modern economies, yet most people have no idea where it actually comes from. Katharina Pistor explains how capital is created behind closed doors in the offices of private attorneys, and why this little-known fact is one of the biggest reasons for the widening wealth gap between the holders of capital and everybody else. Dark Matter Labs:The Code of Capital is indispensable reading to understand why capital works the way it does, and what implications that has.”

€ 19,99 (order here*)

In this book, James C. Scott analyses failed cases of large-scale authoritarian plans in a variety of fields. Centrally managed social plans misfire, Scott argues, when they impose schematic visions that do violence to complex interdependencies that are not—and can not—be fully understood. Further, the success of designs for social organisation depends upon the recognition that local, practical knowledge is as important as formal, epistemic knowledge. Dark Matter Labs: “Unlocking change in complex systems is hard. It’s tempting to think that if only single actors like the state (or private sector) were more effective, we would be able to break through stalemates. This book is a powerful and painful reminder of why that just does not work. What’s true for the state, is also true for any other actor acting in complexity – and our strategies need to be centred on this understanding and on a deep appreciation of how real-world uncertainty is fundamentally a feature – not a bug – in our design thinking.”

€ 19,99 (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.

You can find all the livecasts co-created by Dark Matter Labs and additional articles and other reads in our online DCFA research file!

Compiled by
Dymphie Braun
Programmamaker Creatieve Industrie & Head of Programme Designing Cities for All