The Spontaneous City
November 2010 - Art direction and design: onlab (Nicolas Bourquin, Thibaud Tissot, Ryan van Kesteren, Kasper Zwaaneveld) with Jeannette Gaussi
Publisher: BIS Publishers
Concept: Urhahn Urban Design , with Partizan Publik
Cover illustration: Vasco Mourao
176 pages, 24 x 30 cm, full colour, paperback, ISBN (English) 978-90-6369-265-0, ISBN (Dutch) 978-90-6369-255-1
The era of large-scale urban planning is over. That is why the authors of this book argue in favor of local resourcefulness, flexibility, and openness – in short, they argue for the Spontaneous City. The Spontaneous City is never finished; the Spontaneous City is about the user; the Spontaneous City is the result of supply and demand.
The challenge was to capture the essence of spontaneity in the publication. One of the means for achieving this was to design it as a bookazine, i.e. having the haptics of a magazine while providing in-depth analysis on the topic like a book. To emphasize the magazine character, varying layout systems distinguish the different dossiers like analysis, essays, project descriptions, interviews, reports, and a manifesto.
On the first conceptual workshop with the initiators and editors, it occurred to us that some of the city pictures and maps would need an additional layer of information due to the complexity of their content. The solution was to insert die-cut pages which frame the images and reveal additional information on the matter. This method allows the reader to explore the pictures first without explanation and after turning the die-cut page he gets the 'full picture'.
Vasco Mouraou's illustration of New York City was chosen as the cover for its subjective and spontaneous assemblage of real buildings creating an unknown, tangly representation of New York.
The typeface 'robotate' was chosen for its improvised and rough lettering outline - it's a reference to the bricolage and makeshift character of the cities that are described as spontaneous here.