This Bologna Ragazzi Award-winning “manual of urbanism for beginners” uses images of a giant paper model of a city to show young adults how to view our cities critically and how to develop an intense relationship with our immediate surroundings.
The art of urban planning and facilitating the coexistence of city-dwellers is not an example of “social engineering” but rather a reflection of the age-old attempt to create a functioning polis. Today – when this type of settlement has come to dominate the globe – urban conservation in Central and Eastern Europe faces challenges from the historical burden of communist architecture, but also from contemporary vested interests and short-sighted attempts to patch things up. However, the place we live in deserves a better deal. Together with two award-winning artists, architect Osamu Okamura discusses possible cures for neuralgic points in our human anthills in a clear, understandable and considered manner. Thanks to “learning through play” in the form of dozens of visual jokes, he puts the problem into the necessary context – after all, if cities are to avoid degenerating into backdrops for dystopian science fiction, a consensual approach is needed.
“This astonishing book makes use of the disposable glossy magazine format and garish color photography of original installations to express the thrilling dynamism of urban design. The producers have produced a mega maquette of a paper town, and have generated assertive and informative text on questions of urban design and justice. Readers are positioned to look at the pages as designers considering a model of a city that they have been invited to rethink.”
— The 2021 Bologna Ragazzi Award jury
About the authors:
Osamu Okamura (1973) is an architect, dean and lecturer at the Faculty of Art and Architecture of the Technical University in Liberec, chair of the Prague City Council Commission for Art in the Public Space, and a member of the Commission for the Development of Town Planning, Architecture and the Public Space of Prague 7 City Council Authority. As a member of the board of the Czech Architecture Foundation and with support from a Fulbright-Masaryk scholarship, he spent time in 2018 studying at the Chicago Architecture Center, where among other things he focused on programmes for children and young adults.
David Böhm (1982) is an artist and author of illustrated children’s books. His collection of comic-strip tales from Africa, Ticho hrocha (The Silence of the Hippo, 2009) won 2nd place in the competition for the Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year. He also had success with the publication Hlava v hlavě (The Head in the Head, 2013): an encyclopaedic fount of knowledge with imaginative artistic and technical explanations of the functioning of the head perched on our necks (Most Beautiful Czech Books of the Year, 2014 Magnesia Litera Award, with the poet Ondřej Buddeus). He is the author of A jako Antarktida (A is for Antarctica, 2019), which won, among others, the 2020 German Children’s Literature Award in the non-fiction category.
Jiří Franta (1978) has been drawing and painting his whole life. His main interest is drawing but he also often creates installations, sculpture and videos. He is a member of the Rafani group, part of the artistic duo Franta–Böhm, and co-founder of the comics magazine KIX. He has exhibited in the Czech Republic and abroad, and has been a finalist on several occasions at the prestigious Jindřich Chalupecký Award.