Midas launches Charles Wolfe’s new book Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character with Tigran Haas

Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character by Charles Wolfe, published in hardback with Tigran Haas on 24 June by Rowman and Littlefield, is the final book in a trilogy designed to raise awareness of the intrinsic identity of urban places and the importance of avoiding urban renewal that is out-of-scale, context, or character.

The future of our cities and the urban life has become more hotly debated than ever in the wake of the huge upheaval brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Work-life patterns have changed for good; localism and ethical trends that were emerging have now been accelerated; quality of environment and social integration have gained a renewed importance. But how do we balance the needs of communities today with sensitivity to the local history, building stock, natural environment and cultural traditions? How do we create urban environments that are truly livable? The answer is not as simple as constructing bland or pastiche developments, nor throwing out the old entirely and imposing an ultra-modern monolith. Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character explores techniques for how we can understand and respond sensitively, thoughtfully and creatively to the individual needs of each public place, neighbourhood, or city, creating an urban world that is distinctive and desirable to live in.

Terms such as authenticity, culture, character, and uniqueness are thrown around in discussions about the kind of urban environments we want to live in. But what do they really mean? Inspired by recent efforts and outcomes, the book is full of examples from the UK and internationally that underline the critical importance of context, and offer insightful solutions to blend the past with the future. They include moving a small Swedish city, reviving Irish market towns, and revitalization efforts adjacent to London’s Waterloo Station. Charles Wolfe’s LEARN method (Look, Engage, Assess, Review, and Negotiate) provides a comprehensive approach to how we can think about, analyse and implement more effectively a sustainable urban culture and character in transformative times.

The book is presented in high resolution full colour, with 160 photographs by the author and select illustrations by others, providing a visual guide to support a deeper understanding of the issues at play.

About the Author

Charles Wolfe is one of the most important voices in multinational urbanism today, offering a fresh perspective on how we maintain the culture and character of our cities.

Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character is the third book in his urbanism trilogy, which includes previous works Seeing the Better City and Urbanism Without Effort and also feature extensive colour photography by the author.

Originally from Seattle, USA, Charles is an international urbanism consultant, author, visiting scholar in Sweden, recent Fulbright specialist in Australia for an award-winning project, and long-time American environmental/land use lawyer. He is founder and principal advisor of Seeing Better Cities Group, has practiced at several law firms, and has served as a long-time affiliate associate professor in the College of the Built Environments at the University of Washington in Seattle. He has written regularly for many publications, including The Atlantic, The Atlantic Cities/Bloomberg CityLab, Governing, City Monitor, Planetizen, The Huffington Post, Grist, and Crosscut. He currently lives in Newbury, UK.


The original photos in Charles Wolfe’s books are available for reproduction with permission. For more information, a review copy or to interview Charles Wolfe, please contact:

Amelia Knight: amelia.knight@midaspr.co.uk | 07771 791 210

Amber Choudhary: amber.choudary@midaspr.co.uk | 07908 438096

Praise for Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character:

“In Sustaining a City’s Culture and Character: Principles and Best Practices, Charles Wolfe and Tigran Haas share forward-looking techniques for identifying and nurturing the complex culture of a city. Eminently readable, the book deepens our understanding of authenticity and heritage, but perhaps most importantly, highlights the possibilities unleashed by listening to citizen expertise.” — Thompson M. Mayes, chief legal officer and general counsel, National Trust for Historic Preservation

“Nothing is more important in planning and urban design than understanding what makes successful places work. Charles R Wolfe is a master of the art of observation and interpretation, and his new book generously shares his insights.” — Rob Cowan, author of The Dictionary of Urbanism